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)


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.


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

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... 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:


    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 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.


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...


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'...?"


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."


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...



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.

Driscoll on Zacharias on ECM

I'm mulling/praying through the text of a session that Scott "I Never Met An Absolute Truth I Liked Except The Absolute Truth That There Is No Way Of Knowing Truth Absolutely And Yet I Somehow Know That Absolutely" McKnight delivered to Westminster Theological Seminary. Reading it (which is a taxing enterprise; I feel the need to dive into a nice, hot Scripture bath and wash thoroughly afterwards, much like reading Bell or MacLaren, et. al. -- oh, dear, is my bias showing...?) triggered a memory of a comment that I've heard about über-smart Christian philosopher Ravi Zacharias and his deepening concern regarding the Emerging Church Movement, which in turn prompted me to dig up a blogpost I'd read from Mark "If Only I Was More Dispensational And Less Pinko-Commie Calvinist I'd Be Calvary Chapel" Driscoll (whose MP3s on Biblical masculinity and femininity are priceless gems). Here it is for your consideration and edification...

Nothing is lost

Now this is an incredibly important and incisive devotional from Elisabeth Elliot.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Rosie O'Donnell and Moral Equivalency

Scintillatingly brilliant social commentator Rosie O'Donnell recently told us that we shouldn't fear terrorists because, and I quote, "they're just moms and dads," close quote.

Is that Sting I hear in the background... something about Russians and loving their kids, too...? Hmmmm...

Rosie is quite possibly a lovely person in person... but I honestly can't tell if her role on The View is to be a comedic foil or not.

Her statement is classic "moral equivalency." Terrorists who blow up innocent civilians really aren't bad because they're mommies and daddies with kiddies and everybody let's just grab up a bunch of dasies and dandilions and lock arms and sing with the Smurfs, tra la la-lalala, la-lala la-la...

Unfortunately for Rosie's stunningly spot-on social commentary, these terrorist mommies and daddies believe that sending their precious young'uns to go die in the process of blowing up or at least maiming and injuring the infidel is the most loving thing to do for them, since it's the only way to ensure that they'll be accepted before Allah.

Oh, and they hate the Jews, who it might be noted are also moms and dads. But since they're just Jews, they don't count.

Right, Rosie...?

Comedic foil. That has to be her function on the show...

Saturday, November 11, 2006


You have got to get a load of this... "open-source" religion... eeeeyayiiiii...

Ayatollah: Thank Allah for Democrats' victory

Another interesting, telling article here.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Look who's happy

Whatever else your opinion may or may not be regarding the outcome of this week's election results, I think it's rather telling to see who else is all a-twitter with the expressed apparent will of the American people.

Among other luminaries, the charming and amiable Hugo Chavez, president of the People's Democratic Revolutionary Republic of Venezuela, is reportedly quite giddy with the results.

As, apparently, are governments univerally known for their kindness and charity such as Iran and the Islamic Government of Sudan, which had been opposed (however tepidly) by the previous Congressional regime over their compassionate policy of killing the non-Muslim blacks in the south and Darfur regions. Both now hope for a bright new day of co-operation with American power brokers.

Don't know about you, but I find that very fascinating...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Panic in the Halls of Power

...or at least in the White House. Former intelligence operative Spook86 hits another home run in his incisive analysis of today's press conference offering up Donald Rumsfeld as a sacrificial lamb for, as he puts it, "court[ing] favor with the new... majority." Well worth the read to put certain current events in proper perspective...

What the latest election means for Israel...

Very important article here about how last night's election results bode for Israel, and appeasement of Islam in general.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Pastor Ted Haggard

Ted Haggard, pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, has fallen.

He has officially and publicly confessed of and is beginning the process of repentance concerning sexual immorality. The details are all over the rabid secular media, and do not need to be rehashed here.

I have long had mixed feelings about Ted; he leans very heavily in the direction of Kenyonism (so-called "Word-Faith"), and so I have always held him doctrinally at arms-length. But he is a brother, and the unfolding events of the last week serve ultimately to demonstrate that.

I have to say: I am very blessed and humbled by how Pastor Haggard, his wife, the church board, and the greater church body of New Life Church have handled the whole situation.

There are generally one of two reactions in the modern evangelical church to Christians who fall into sin - whether leaders or "lay people:"

  1. We shoot the wounded: it has been said of the church that we're the only army that shoots its own wounded. When a brother falls, we are indeed to take it seriously and deal with sin harshly (first of all in our own selves, a very sadly missing component, IMNSHO). But it is always for the goal of restoration and reconciliation, never from a condemning stance. That's not Jesus' heart for His own - how dare it be ours.

  2. We ignore the sin: This is probably the most common current response, and is just as bad as glomming on to a brother who is down. Just as wicked as condemningly ostracizing a fallen brother is the practice of turning a blind eye to sin. This has been called "sloppy agapé," an entirely appropriate and largely accurate description. Thus we have the situation where a leader in the church sins, and he's given the administrative equivalent of a slap in the hand - which is a slap in the face to the Church and her Head.

The way the Haggard issue has been handled stands in stunning contrast to what we normally see. Instead of sweeping his sin under the rug, Ted has cowboyed up, confessed his sin (after initial denials - hey, he's fallen, remember? So are you, BTW...), and submitted to examination and discipline to his duly constituted and ordained board. He is not making excuses; he's calling sin, sin. And his board has swiftly and publicly (since he is in public ministry, his sin must be dealt with publicly), and decisively dealt with the issue, removed him from ministry (permanently), and placed him under corrective discipline - for the purpose of reconciliation and restoration. And so instead of erring on the Pharisaical side of things and casting him out as an unclean thing, they have laid the rod of correction on him, but in love... and aren't letting him go into the night without a fight. Harsh rebuke and castisement for the sin, open arms of love and compassion for the sinner.

Oh, that we all learn from this godly example!

The text of pastor Ted's and his wife's final letters to the church are heart-wrenching, to-the-point, and without acrimony or excuse... and are obviously designed to encourage the body to learn from Ted's negative example, and continue steadfastly with the Lord.

Please let me say this: TED'S LETTER DEMONSTRATES A TRUE SHEPHERD'S HEART, in that his primary concern isn't so much the impact of his sin on his own life, but that of the flock, and his deep concern that the Lord takes even this dark evil and turn it for good, that the body see and learn and fear... and grow.

I think pastor Ted's letter is so exceedingly worth reading, consideration, and prayer, that I repost its contents here (the original can be found here):

November 5, 2006

My Dear New Life Church Family,

I am so sorry. I am sorry for the disappointment, the betrayal, and the hurt. I am sorry for the horrible example I have set for you.

I have an overwhelming, all-consuming sadness in my heart for the pain that you and I and my family have experienced over the past few days. I am so sorry for the circumstances that have caused shame and embarrassment to all of you.

I asked that this note be read to you this morning so I could clarify my heart's condition to you. The last four days have been so difficult for me, my family and all of you, and I have further confused the situation with some of the things I've said during interviews with reporters who would catch me coming or going from my home. But I alone am responsible for the confusion caused by my inconsistent statements. The fact is, I am guilty of sexual immorality, and I take responsibility for the entire problem.

I am a deceiver and a liar. There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I’ve been warring against it all of my adult life. For extended periods of time, I would enjoy victory and rejoice in freedom. Then, from time to time, the dirt that I thought was gone would resurface, and I would find myself thinking thoughts and experiencing desires that were contrary to everything I believe and teach.

Through the years, I’ve sought assistance in a variety of ways, with none of them proving to be effective in me. Then, because of pride, I began deceiving those I love the most because I didn’t want to hurt or disappoint them.

The public person I was wasn’t a lie; it was just incomplete. When I stopped communicating about my problems, the darkness increased and finally dominated me. As a result, I did things that were contrary to everything I believe.

The accusations that have been leveled against me are not all true, but enough of them are true that I have been appropriately and lovingly removed from ministry. Our church's overseers have required me to submit to the oversight of Dr. James Dobson, Pastor Jack Hayford, and Pastor Tommy Barnett. Those men will perform a thorough analysis of my mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical life. They will guide me through a program with the goal of healing and restoration for my life, my marriage, and my family.

I created this entire situation. The things that I did opened the door for additional allegations. But I am responsible; I alone need to be disciplined and corrected. An example must be set.

It is important that you know how much I love and appreciate my wife, Gayle. What I did should never reflect in a negative way on her relationship with me. She has been and continues to be incredible. The problem was not with her, my children, or any of you. It was created 100% by me.

I have been permanently removed from the office of Senior Pastor of New Life Church. Until a new senior pastor is chosen, our Associate Senior Pastor, Ross Parsley, will assume all of the responsibilities of the office. On the day he accepted this new role, he and his wife, Aimee, had a new baby boy. A new life in the midst of this circumstance—I consider that confluence of events to be prophetic. Please commit to join with Pastor Ross and the others in church leadership to make their service to you easy and without burden. They are fine leaders. You are blessed.

I appreciate your loving and forgiving nature, and I humbly ask you to do a few things:

  1. Please stay faithful to God through service and giving.

  2. Please forgive me. I am so embarrassed and ashamed. I caused this and I have no excuse. I am a sinner. I have fallen. I desperately need to be forgiven and healed.

  3. Please forgive my accuser. He is revealing the deception and sensuality that was in my life. Those sins, and others, need to be dealt with harshly. So, forgive him and, actually, thank God for him. I am trusting that his actions will make me, my wife and family, and ultimately all of you, stronger. He didn’t violate you; I did.

  4. Please stay faithful to each other. Perform your functions well. Encourage each other and rejoice in God’s faithfulness. Our church body is a beautiful body, and like every family, our strength is tested and proven in the midst of adversity. Because of the negative publicity I’ve created with my foolishness, we can now demonstrate to the world how our sick and wounded can be healed, and how even disappointed and betrayed church bodies can prosper and rejoice.

Gayle and I need to be gone for a while. We will never return to a leadership role at New Life Church. In our hearts, we will always be members of this body. We love you as our family. I know this situation will put you to the test. I’m sorry I’ve created the test, but please rise to this challenge and demonstrate the incredible grace that is available to all of us.

Ted Haggard

...all I can say is, wow. God bless pastor Ted and his wife, and the leaders and body there at New Life Church. I am grieved by Ted's choices, grieved by the hurt caused by his sin... and so encouraged by how he and the church have handled this. At the end of the day, I am humbled by his godly example of repentance and contrition, and more than ever I find myself in a position of respecting him.

Sin is sin, it is ugly and evil, and we are all stained by it. Ted's sin is eggregious, and all the more so because it has served to further tarnish the holy office of the pastorate.

But his example of humility, transparency, accountability, confession, repentance, and submission to discipline is a holy thing which shuts the mouth of the adversary and strengthens the Body. Our God truly is a God who restores the years the locusts have eaten, and gives beauty for ashes.

He deserves our prayers, our love, our support... and our deep, reverential respect for how he has and is handling this. God bless you and your wife richly and deeply and powerfully, pastor Ted.

Also, you can find his wife's letter to the body here. Now this is a truly lady of faith.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Blog about Ted Haggard, and pastors in general

This in an absolutely, utterly outstanding article by Mark Driscoll examining the current scandal/crisis surrounding Ted Haggard (see this article, this article, this article, and this article for current info), and further, examining the entire issue of purity in the pastorate and practical things that we can do as pastors, leaders, and just plain Christians to guard our integrity.

Exceedingly good blogpost, and well worth the read...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

How About Some Respect for Smaller-sized Churches!

Browsing through the Christian & Missionary Alliance church multiplication blog, and ran across this article commenting on smaller-vs.-larger churches, and what their denomination's perception of the future of church growth looks like.

Interesting insight... and as a pastor of a teeny-tiny, itty-bitty little church (with huge heart), I found the article to be a breath of fresh air and an encouragement in what can otherwise be a very discouraging subject...

Woman's death at hands of 'gay' her fault, says lawyer

Very important article here...

Some particularly salient quotes from the article...

  • "I believe many, and probably most, journalists share the unspoken assumption that Christians bring such trouble on themselves..."

  • "In Canada," Dreher noted, "Christians are having their freedom of speech and worship taken away by hate-speech laws designed to protect homosexuals from having their feelings hurt."

No, I'm not a "homophobe." I have no fear of guys who like guys. I don't get it, but that's a different category... "homoidontgetit." For the Christian, the question is, does the Word speak against homosexual practice; and as uncomfortable as the issue may be for some to hear, and as much as it might hurt the feelings of some Canadian (and otherwise) homosexuals, the answer is unequivocally "yes."

But the primary reason why this article is so important is that it's indicative of a very dangerous, but very much anticipated (to those of us who are iggnit' enough to be dispensationalists) development in our national history. It's going to get a whole lot darker before it gets brighter. And right now, moral inversion rules the day (good being called evil, evil good, dogs sleeping with cats, mass hysteria... you get it). The day will likely come here in the U.S. where I will be a "hate criminal" for teaching verse-by-verse through (for instance) Romans 1.

But the homosexual who brutally murders a Christian isn't a "hate criminal," but an oppressed oppressee who tragically yet heroically strikes back at the evil hater of a Christian who threatened him with... ah... words.

Anyway, important article; and though this lady's story deserves to be picked up by the media, of course it isn't.

'Cause our news isn't biased in the least...