Friday, May 20, 2016

Buy A Gun Or You Don't Love Jesus

That probably seems like a silly and unnecessary title to a post but what inspired this post was an essay by Michael Patton over at Credo House with this humdinger of a title: Why Christians Are Ordered to Have Guns. Not allowed. Not permitted. Not something to be considered. Ordered. So yeah, that is a pretty provocative post title that deserves an equally over the top title in my response. Anyway, someone posted this on Facebook and it stirred up an interesting conversation and because the entire original post was, just being frank, an exegetical train wreck I am going to refute it section by section,

First a comment about the title. Generally your title is an introduction for someone who is going to read your blog post or is an inducement to get them to click on the link, aka "click bait". So if you are going to make a serious claim like every Christian is ordered to have a gun you should probably make that case. Michael does not.

Skipping over the first few paragraphs which talk about why he was writing this post we get to the first argument regarding the importance of education the populace about the 2nd Amendment.
I didn’t quote the 2nd Amendment merely as an introduction to remind people of it, but because I believe a very sad fact: most Americans have never even read it or really thought about it. 
The hearts and minds of America (and American Christians) must be won first through education. Most Americans have very little notion of what America is all about, what Bono, the rock star Irishman, calls “the idea of America.” And the idea of America includes the right to bear arms and, as I will argue, something beyond this.
Ok. I agree that it is troubling that most American don't have a clue what the 2nd Amendment says or any of the rest of the Constitution for that matter. I also agree that very few Americans have any sort of concept about what America means or why it exists or why we have a Constitution in the first place. I am reading Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy In America and it is horrifying how far we have strayed from the grand vision that led to the forming of a limited republican government focused on individual liberty rather than a monarchy. I will go several steps farther and note that I am a gun owner and I am 100% convinced that the 2nd Amendment was intended to and actually does preserve an individual right to own a firearm. None of that has anything to do with whether Christians are "ordered" to have guns or even if they should.

This is an important point. Throughout history the vast majority of Christians had nothing even vaguely resembling a right to arms. The vast majority of Christians right now do not own firearms. So we are left with the idea that God has specially chosen Christian living in America to arm themselves in a manner unknown to most of our brethren over the last 200 years. That is a pretty tough argument to make. Moving on....
It is interesting that Jesus in Luke 22:35ff tells the apostles to get a sword. Now, I, personally, would not claim this is an exact parallel to the idea of the 2nd Amendment, but it does have some bearing on whether citizens can have a sword (an instrument of death).
As sure as the sun rising in the east, those who argue in favor of Christians arming themselves and preparing themselves to use those weapons to kill someone else are going to go to Luke 22 and Romans 13 for New Testament support. Just as certainly those same people are going to ignore Luke 22;37 that tells us why Jesus wanted the disciples to have swords (hint, it was not for self-defense or to use at all) and the end of Romans 12 which of course immediately precedes Romans 13 and is the most explicit teaching on non-violence anywhere in the Scriptures. Notice what he does here. He says "I, personally, would not claim this is an exact parallel to the idea of the 2nd Amendment" (emphasis mine). So he uses the argument that the 2nd Amendment is a parallel to Luke 22, just not an exact one. The problems here are two-fold. First, the passage he cites in Luke has nothing to do with Christians arming themselves. It is a specific event for a specific purpose and read in context it has nothing to do with arming ourselves. The second is much more troubling and is a recurring theme in his post. He tosses out there the notion that Luke 22 supports owning weapons by Christian and draws a parallel between the teachings of Jesus and the 2nd amendment and then moves on without even pretending to engage the text and the very obvious problems with using the "numbered with the transgressors" passage to support a Biblical command for Christians to own guns, When you are making an argument about a Kingdom topic, if you turn to Scripture, as you should, you must at least engage the text a little. Otherwise you are just tossing out verses with no thought as to their proper context and usage. That drives me nuts and a published author with a master's in theology like Michael should know better. The fact that he makes no attempt to interact with a portion of Scripture he tosses out as support for his position is a mark of someone who has a weak argument.
In the book of Romans we are told to obey our government. “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1). If we do not obey, we should fear the consequences as the government does not “bear the sword for nothing” (Roman 13:4). 
The government “bearing the sword” does not in any way exclude citizens from having one. In fact, the passage might very well assume that citizens carry swords also. The idea here has to do with whether or not the government should be able to exact penalties for criminal activity, even the penalty of death. Paul’s assumption is that this is an obligation the government bears.
I will grant the first assertion in the second paragraph, nothing in Romans 13 by itself would negate Christians bearing the sword. The next sentence though is inaccurate. Again we see the use of a qualified assertion to plant the notion in the reader's mind that a passage of Scripture implies something when it does nothing of the sort. In this case "the passage might very well assume that citizens carry swords also" is creating from thin air an assumption that the private citizens of the state are assumed to carry swords even though nothing in the passage would imply that. Maybe they did and maybe they didn't but the Scriptures simply don't say and this is little more than making a case from silence, even though the immediately preceding verses in Romans 12 would strongly indicate that even if pagan citizens of the Roman empire carried weapons, Christians did not until several centuries after Paul. Next we turn to the next paragraph and this is where it really goes off the rails...
However, any time the government no longer functions as a legitimate government, the higher law, a natural law, the “Lex Rex” (King Law or “the law is king”) says that people have the right and obligation to overthrow such government. Aren’t we supposed to submit to the government? However, this assumes that the government in question is a legitimate government. It is hard to know where to draw the line from a biblical standpoint (and I have no intention of exploring that question here), but from the standpoint of our government that “we the people” set up and rule over, this is an obligation we carry.
The post jumps from a clumsy attempt at exegesis to a completely extra-biblical principle, "natural law" or "Lex Rex". Note that he even concedes that the Bible makes no distinctions in the New Testament as to what qualifies a "legitimate" secular government. The reason he cannot draw this line is that the Bible never does and just as importantly it never assumes that Christians are to rise up in armed revolt against an "illegitimate" government. The Roman rule over Israel was brutal, as we see in the scourging and crucifying of Jesus Christ and the eventual violent martyring of many of the apostles in Scripture. The Romans would even eventually destroy the temple in Jerusalem. If there was ever an illegitimate government it was Roman rule over Israel but we never, ever find a call to violent revolt from Christ or His disciples. If it was His intent that we rise up, one might think it would be mentioned by Him. He makes an appeal that as American citizens we are obliged to arm ourselves in case of revolt even though that eternal preparation for revolt is completely contrary to what Paul says in Romans 13. Hang on, this next leap is a huge one.
Because of our biblical obligation to the government expressed by Paul in Romans 13, I would say that owning a gun is something that goes beyond just a right, it is imperative to the well-being of our county. Notice this again in the 2nd Amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…” “Militia” is a term that may bring up misunderstanding. People will no doubt think of a rouge of hillbilly nuts who hate the government and form their group to create a cult whose purpose is to disturb or destroy our government. This is not what is meant. What is meant is a group of people who love America, whether or not they agree with the policies of any particular presidential administration or the rulings of any Supreme Court. These are citizens who are intent on obeying the government by keeping the government in check. What an incredibly unique and necessary situation our forefathers set up. Not only are there checks and balances in the three branches of our government, there are also checks and balances of power between the formal government and the people. Our forefathers knew all too well how unguarded governments can and most often do turn into tyrannical messes. And they wrote as one of the first amendments something to deter tyranny.
In spite of his impassioned appeal to the need of an armed citizenry to keep the government in check, something I believe was intended by the framers, he is again making a linkage that doesn't exist. He starts off with "Because of our biblical obligation to the government expressed by Paul in Romans 13, I would say that owning a gun is something that goes beyond just a right, it is imperative to the well-being of our county.". So Christians should submit to the government as Paul writes but then we see that American Christians have a complementary obligation to arm ourselves to keep the government in check. He goes from submission to the government, which is Biblical, to a treatment of why American citizens must be armed. The chasm between these two concepts is enormous. It is effective largely because we as Christians living in America have been so inundated with teaching about America being a "Christian nation", our shared "Judeo-Christian" values and the priority of the American pseudo-Christian civic religion over all else that we can often not distinguish between where Christianity ends and America begins.

His next three paragraphs focus on the topic of "HOW CAN WE EXPECT TO FIGHT AGAINST FIGHTER JETS AND PLANES?". They are not very interesting arguments and have nothing to do with the assertion in his title that Christians are ordered to have guns so I will jump to his closing argument:
I believe that there is a responsibility for us to have this kind of power immediately available to all Americans. The truth be told, if there are any Christians who have a hard time with this (and I know there are and I do sympathize with the objections), we must understand that to obey Romans 13, we must, at the very least, support the right to bear arms. When we go against, we may do so because of conscience or fear, but we have nothing to fear as long as we take all the necessary precautions and educate and train all those who do bear these arms. It needs to be well regulated on the “militia” level and on the level of the individual. Is it dangerous? Definitely. Is a car dangerous as we allow 16 year olds to drive them? Absolutely (I have one of those). That is why we should have diligent training for both. Will people use them for evil ends? Definitely. We live in a fallen world with fallen people who seek their own gain. But, ultimately, we have to understand not only the disobedience to Scripture when we go against the 2nd Amendment, but the radical danger there is when the government disarms its people.
I am not really saying that every individual Christian is ordered to have a gun. If it is something that is truly against your conscience, don’t get one. But those who can, should (and go through training, following the safety rules). But, at the very least, I do believe that in order to obey God, we should support the 2nd Amendment.
This is my musing on gun control. I am willing to change my mind if someone can convince me otherwise.
Wow. In a sense he is somewhat correct. The 2nd Amendment is the law of the land and part of the governing documents of America so we as Christians in submission to the government should of course recognize the right of citizens to bear arms. That doesn't mean we are obligated or permitted to arm ourselves. It is legal in virtually every state to go to a strip club. Many states have legalized gambling. Every state allows citizens to purchase and consume alcohol as long as they don't drive afterward.  I recognize that these are part of the law and as such I am not chaining myself to the door of a nudie bar. Even though all of the above are social ills and harmful, it is the law. There is a difference between what is permitted and what is proper for a citizen of Christ's Kingdom. I am again going to point out that when your title is "Why Christians Are Ordered to Have Guns" but you then write in your conclusion "I am not really saying that every individual is ordered to have a gun", you undermine your own argument. Either stand firm on what you said in the title or change the title to "Why Christians Should Consider Having A Gun".

Michael is sort of making two arguments and mixing them together, first that the 2nd Amendment is a vital part of the law of our land and second that the New Testament at the least doesn't prohibit the ownership of weapons by Christians. The first argument is not terribly well presented but it doesn't contain any obvious factual errors. The second argument is not made at all beyond throwing a couple of Scriptures out and then less than subtly trying to link them to the 2nd Amendment. His unwillingness to engage in the work of exegesis and willful disregard of contrary positions makes his Biblical case completely toothless. In fact it only works when one starts from a U.S. Constitutional and then backs into Scripture to find verses that out of context seem to maybe imply some very weak support for his argument.

There is a case to be made from Scripture in favor of Christians having arms and being likewise prepared to use them in the defense of others, especially those too weak to defend themselves, but it isn't made here. Michael needs to go back, rethink his arguments and read a few decent resources that argue to the contrary and are widely available like Preston Sprinkle's book Fight (see my review here). He acts as if the arguments that run counter to his position are not worthy of being mentioned in specifics or engaged in a meaningful way but if you can't defend your position in the face of critical and contrary arguments, it probably isn't an position worth having.

Monday, May 16, 2016

What I Would Ask The President of The United States

There is zero chance that I would ever get to direct a question publically to President Obama. I am pretty sure I am on a bunch of lists that would preclude that. However if I could ask him a question, this is sort of what it would sound like in the form of an open letter.
Mr. President, thank you for taking my question. Last week your administration sent out a notice to every public school in America that demanded that every public school in America open their restrooms and locker rooms for both genders to anyone who claimed to be that gender, regardless of their actual biological gender. As part of this letter you threatened to withhold from any schools that failed to comply Federal education funding totaling billions of dollars, funds that originated in the same states you are threatening. This letter and policy is done without the benefit of a legislative action and occurs within the framework of prior legislation that was never envisioned by those that passed it to be used to force schools to allow boys into girl's restrooms and locker rooms and vice versa.
Mr. President, you have two daughters, Malia and Natasha. One is 18 and the other is 16, so what we would generally consider school aged. Your daughters attend the highly prestigious Sidwell Friends school, a co-ed school that is clearly an elite school, unattainable for the average citizen based on tuition of nearly $40,000 per year, more than the tuition for my entire college experience (As a funny aside, the school's webpage lists the tuition for "Middle and Upper Schools" as "$39,360 (includes hot lunch)". Whew, I am glad that for $40,000 a year your kid gets a hot lunch!).
My question to you is this. Would you feel comfortable with your daughter Sasha, who is now 16 years old, changing her clothes or taking a shower with a young man next to her, naked in the shower or beside her while she changed her clothing? I ask because this is what you are demanding every parent in America with children in public schools subject their children to in the name of catering to a miniscule minority of confused and likely mentally ill students. I recognize that since your daughter is a) attending a private school outside of the scope of your letter and b) understandably tightly guarded for her own safety this issue may not directly impact you but it does impact parents around this nation who cannot afford to send their children to a private school. From afar you seem to care deeply about your children, as do millions of regular parents across this nation. I find it hard to believe that you are comfortable with the idea of your 16 year old daughter disrobed and/or showering with a boy, no matter what that young man thinks his gender really is. Thank you Mr. President, I await your response.
It seems a little graphic but we are past the point of niceties. We can talk about the feelings of "transgender" children all we like but in stark terms what is being asked of us is that the daughters of this nation stand exposed in their underwear or completely naked in the presence of a young man or men. There is absolutely nothing to stop a boy from going into the girl's locker room for laughs in his letter. Looking back at my high school days in an admittedly far more tame era I can think of dozens of boys who would have gleefully used the opportunity to visit the girl's locker room to take a peek. I can't imagine that is less true today. I can't stop a young man from putting on women's panties and a dress but that doesn't mean that boy should get unfettered access to girls in what should be the most private of settings. 

Some would immediately respond with outrage at the entire premise of this question. There is an unwritten understanding that while the President and other political and public figures are fair game for criticism, their families and especially their children are off-limits. My response would be that President Obama negated that rule and made his children fair game when he dragged the children of the rest of America into his own personal crusade to tear down and remake our culture in his own image. When our children become pawns in the grand game he is playing while his own children are safely ensconced in the most exclusive of elite schools, then he is the one who has crossed the line, not me. President Obama's daughters are no doubt precious to him but no more so than the children of the rest of America are to their parents who lack the means to avoid his mandate.

Like I said, I will never get to ask this question but if he were forced to provide a real answer I wonder what he would say? If he were standing at the door of the locker room where his daughter was showering and a young man tried to enter, would he let him and even open the door and invite him in? I suspect no but that is precisely what he is demanding the fathers and mothers of America do. Someone needs to call him on this, it might as well be me.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Global Freaking Warming

Our balmy weekend forecast here in the middle of May:


Oh Al Gore, I am so sorry for doubting you. I am so glad you invented the internet for us so I can publicly apologize.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Speaking Of Fascism

At the beginning of the week I wrote about the Federal Department of Justice threatening North Carolina over a law designed to keep deviants and mentally ill men out of women's and little girl's restrooms, something that has been common sense for centuries until the last few months where it has become the number one priority of the Obama administration and about the only topic NPR leads with. The Feds were also threatening to withhold billions in "Federal" education funding unless N.C. complied. At this point N.C. is showing some spine and fighting back but then there was this news story that shows how fast the moral collapse and the encroachment of fascism really is, Obama administration tells public schools to let transgender students use bathrooms of their choice.

The gist of it can be seen in these paragraphs, emphasis mine:
The Obama administration will send a letter to every public school district in the country telling them to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their chosen gender identity, as opposed to their birth certificate. 
The letter, which is signed by officials at the Justice Department and the Department of Education, will be sent out to the districts on Friday. 
While the letter does not have the force of law, it does warn that schools that do not abide by the administration’s interpretation of civil rights law may face lawsuits or a loss of federal aid.
First off, a person's gender is not determined by what is on their birth certificate. That is just patently dumb. The birth certificate reflects the biological reality of a person's immutable gender, not the other way around. I am not a man because it says "male" on my birth certificate, my birth certificate says "male" because I am biologically and unalterably a male.

Second, the boldness of the pace the Administration is taking is breathtaking. Every single public school district in America is receiving a demand letter with a heavy handed and less than subtle threat to steal from those districts and not even give some of their money back unless those school districts throw open the door of girl's locker rooms and bathrooms to any dude that wants to go in. What a dream come true for guys, why peep in a girl's bedroom window when you can just claim to "identify" as male and stroll in the locker room to your choice of undressed girls? The privacy of your children at every school in America is being revoked by an Administration bent on remaking America into a perverse caricature of a civilization. If you are a parent, Christian or not, your children are being used as pawns in a grand social experiment that puts their safety and privacy on a shelf in pursuit of a perverse dream of "progress". Whoever you are, the public schools of this country are becoming an unsafe and dangerous place for a child to be entrusted to for most of the day in their formative year. Scratch that, that has been true for a long time. We are actually almost to the point where sending your kids, especially your daughters, to public schools is tantamount to being an accessory to sexual abuse. That sounds harsh but please tell me why it is not true.

There was also this risible line from "Education" Secretary John B. King, again emphasis mine:
No student should ever have to go through the experience of feeling unwelcome at school or on a college campus,” King said. “We must ensure that our young people know that whoever they are or wherever they come from, they have the opportunity to get a great education in an environment free from discrimination, harassment and violence.”
Riiiggghht, that may be true if you are some sort of deviant but if you are white, male, Christian, conservative, heterosexual, not fat, etc. you better be prepared to not only keep your mouth shut about your opinions but you better be prepared to genuflect to every cause of people who are not you and apologize in sackcloth and ashes for the outrage of being a politically incorrect and reviled class.

Our culture stands on the precipice and our elected officials keep pushing us closer to the edge but the people of this nation want us to choose between Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump at a time in our nation's history far more perilous than the Cold War and on par with the Civil War.

Monday, May 09, 2016

The Servile Fascists States Of America

Lost amid the noise about the North Carolina law protecting women and little girls from having to share their restrooms with deviant men, followed by "protests" by washed up musicians desperate for relevance again and the whole Target fiasco, was a news story that got very little attention, namely a threatened lawsuit by the Federal "Justice" Department that claimed that North Carolina has no right to protect women and children from perverts. Along with the threatened lawsuit comes an even more egregious stick, namely the additional threat of withholding Federal funds because North Carolina is "discriminating" against "transgender people". Now a year ago or even six months ago this was a non-issue. Men used men's rooms, women used women's rooms and no one was being discriminated against. Today? You would think that the Federal government has bigger concerns than letting mentally ill people use whatever private facilities they want, you know like an enormous debt, a Middle East in flames, an unchecked flood of illegal aliens. Nope. The most important issue right now is stripping women and men of privacy in the most private of moments.

First the actual issue and it is the height of insanity that this is even an issue. The Federal government is using laws designed to prevent discrimination based on sex to force people to share bathrooms with people that they don't want to and have every right to not want to. I don't much care if a chick wants to use the men's bathroom but I guarantee you that the vast majority of women in this country, and dads as well, don't want men in the same bathroom that women and little girls are using. The excuse that "it hasn't been a big issue so far" misses the point that it hasn't been an issue precisely because men are not permitted in women's bathroom and locker facilities. Do you really want your daughter to finish working out and take a shower only to have a guy with male genitalia walk in and stand naked next to her? I don't care what gender or species or whatever the guy thinks he is, is that something you would want? Attorney General Loretta Lynch complained that transgender people are being "forced" to "pretend" to be something they are not when the exact opposite is the case. Her Justice Department is giving absolute sovereignty to people pretending to be the opposite gender.

You see, the problem is that once "progressives" started to embrace deviancy they can't stop. So when something so patently ridiculous and dangerous as men pretending to be women using women's restroom and locker room facilities comes up, they have to champion it or look like hypocrites. It also means that there is no perversion that they can actually not support. If you think I am kidding just look down the road and you will see polygamy, bestiality, necrophilia and pedophilia being championed. Think that is an exaggeration? Would you have though a few years ago that "gay marriage" and men in women's bathrooms would be the law of the land?

Now the second and believe it or not more insidious and dangerous issuehas to do with the precedent we see of the cultural revolutionaries in the Obama administration using extortion to force counter-revolutionary states into compliance. Do what we say or we withhold money, in this case $4.5 BILLION in "Federal funds" earmarked for education. So much for the Democrats caring about education, kids learning takes a back seat to pandering to deviants. This is an outrage for a variety of reasons but here is the big one....

There is absolutely no such thing as "federal funds". The money the Federal government has, almost without exception, has either been seized from people who actually work at something productive for a living or is created from thin air via debt instruments that have saddled our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren with a debt they can never hope to repay. Of course leftist economists assure us that this is not a problem and we should borrow even more, all in the pursuit of the elusive beast of spending our way into prosperity if we only will spend just one more dollar (or one trillion dollars more) . So basically the Feds are saying to North Carolina "Do what we say or we will keep your money that we took from you under threat of imprisonment. It doesn't matter that your citizens earned the money, only that you do as we say."

Virtually every major law at the Federal level is designed to take money away from the states that make up this Union and horde it at the Federal level where it can then be held hostage for insanity like this. In essence the Feds come in at gunpoint to take money from the people and then sneer as the people come forward, hat in hand, to beg the Feds to give them some of their own money back. Actions like this, taking a completely unrelated law to force a dangerous and ludicrous situation on the people of the states, turn the Constitutional Republic that we used to live in on it's head. There is no rule of law because the law is whatever a small cabal of bureaucrats and judges say it is. The will of the people, the Constitution, common decency, self-government via voting, all of these are irrelevant whenever and wherever someone in D.C. says it no longer applies and they are saying more and more often that the people who live in this country, pay the taxes, create the jobs, build families and communities, these people are dangerous and must be leashed.

We are living days of the waning of America as a Republic and beacon of hope to free citizens. Don't get caught up in the shiny objects put forth by the entertainment industry to keep us distracted and passive. Something has to change and soon or this will cease to be a Republic and become a functional fascists state.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Indiana Decides

Today is primary day in Indiana and it is a pretty big deal. Normally we are so far down the path to the nomination that it is sewn up tight when it gets to us but not this year. The airwaves are full of unpleasant ads, the candidates are in town and the largely one-sided showdown between Trump and Cruz comes to a head here. It reminds me of being in New Hampshire where the candidates and media congregate at the beginning of the process rather than the end.

While I am voting for Cruz I also recognize that he has thus far failed to really seize the opportunity. He isn't very photogenic and the lack of support from the GOP, or even outright hostility from tools like John Boehner, hasn't helped. Many have claimed that Cruz is *too* conservative and now probably will get the least conservative Republican nominee in my lifetime. Should Mr. Trump get the requisite 1237 votes, he should be the nominee no matter how distasteful that notion is. Really, given the reality of 8 years of President Obama being pompous, hectoring and sneering at the little people and anyone who doesn't kiss his ring, and the prospect of Hillary Clinton screeching for four more years, Trump is not that terrible of a choice. That says a lot about how bad the last 8 years and the prospect of  years of Hillary really is. Anyone who thinks that Hillary wins in a landslide if Trump is her opponent is delusional, Trump's "message" resonates with a lot of people in the critical Midwestern states.

We also have some tight contests for state and local offices and those ads are pretty much all accusing the other guy of being a closet liberal and their guy being the real conservative. In the area we live winning the GOP primary is essentially winning the general election so this is important for those aspirants.

I kind of look forward to slipping back into political irrelevance as a deep red state that is locked up for the most part in the general election...

Saturday, April 30, 2016

U Mad Mo Bro? A Look At Cult Mind Control Techniques.

I came across a link to this talk by mormon "apostle" Jeffrey R. Holland. As a member of the "Quorum of the Twelve" Mr. Holland is considered to be a prophetic apostle on par with the twelve apostles of Christ. Listen to what he says at around the 2:10 mark:

If you didn't catch that here it is transcribed:
"Don’t you dare bail. I am so furious with people who leave this church. I don’t know whether ‘furious’ is a good apostolic word. But I am. What on earth kind of conviction is that? What kind of patty-cake, taffy-pull experience is that? As if none of this ever mattered, as if nothing in our contemporary life mattered, as if this is all just supposed to be “just exactly the way I want it and answer every one of my questions and pursue this and occupy that and defy this – and then maybe I’ll be a Latter-Day Saint”?! Well, there’s too much Irish in me for that."
Notice the less than subtle suggestions embedded here in his talk. If you leave it is because you are a pouting child that doesn't get everything they want. If you leave it is because you are caught up in the "me first" mentality of this age. Even his "occupy that" comment tries to link people who leave mormonism with the Occupy Wall Street spoiled brats. His screed against those without firm convictions is pretty hilarious coming from an "apostle" of an aberrant religion that changes "revelations" from God like I change shirts.

One thing every cult or cult-like movement needs is a barrier to people leaving. Usually, and this is the case with mormonism, the threat is that by leaving the cult you become cut off from God spiritually and are separated from your friends and family terrestrially. In mormonism this is a multi-part threat. You are "cut off from the blessings of the temple", you are cast out of the "true church" which lands you in a worse afterlife than Adolph Hitler. Worst of all for many people, you are torn from friends and family that stay in mormonism. Another part of the control mechanism is to reject any possibility that people are leaving for legitimate reasons. It is always that they have been offended by someone or have some dark, hidden sin in their life or that they are just faithless. You can never allow any hint that someone left because they discovered that mormonism is a false cult.

I wanted to share this because it is typical of cult mind control techniques. For believers we need to see and recognize the signs of a cult. When you witness to a member of a cult the conversation is very different and often more difficult but as someone who has escaped a controlling cult like the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints", I have a burden to help those still trapped and bewitched by false prophets like Jeffrey Holland, a man who profanes the name of Christ every day and heaps judgement on his head by leading others astray.

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Irony Of Income Inequality Rhetoric

If you pay any attention to the political scene, one theme comes up over and over again from the political left, namely the specter of the "income inequality" boogeyman. Never mind that there has always been and will always be income inequality and also never mind worrying over whether or not income inequality is actually bad or if the government should "do something" about it. This is the cause that is central to both the Clinton and Sanders campaigns and will be repeated over and over again in the general election regardless of who gets the nomination. It is the entire sum of the Democrat economic agenda, "curing" income inequality (and of course letting deviants use women's bathrooms because nothing matters more than the whims of a tiny percentage of mentally ill people). What makes this entire argument so dumb is not that it is a meaningless platitude but that it actually harms the poor and traps them in the cycle of poverty.

The alleged method of solving income inequality is for the government to take money away from those who have too much money, to be determined by a government panel, and give it to someone else who doesn't have enough money. Now it doesn't really matter how hard a person worked or how long they saved to become rich. Nor does it matter if the poor person has done nothing to change their circumstances. Whether you earned and deserve the wealth you have is irrelevant, all that matters is that person has too much money and that person has too little. The promise is to take all that money controlled by a tiny minority and spread it around. Except that is not what is really going to happen. Here is why...

So we are going to take all of this wealth out of the control of a tiny percentage of private citizens and turn it over to a tiny percentage of government bureaucrats. The end result is the same, a tiny fraction of the population controls most of the wealth. This is supposed to be better because of course because while rich people are evil and eat puppies, government bureaucrats are all pure as the driven snow and there isn't a hint of corruption to be found in the boundaries of the District of Columbia. What hasn't changed is the reality that a small percent of the population controls most of the wealth, just the people who control and the means by which they obtained it.

Let me clue you in to a little secret. All of this talk about income inequality has nothing to do with leveling the playing field or other such nonsense. It is all about concentrating even more money and therefore power into the hands of the self-anointed cultural elite, oddly enough the very same people who are clamoring the loudest about income inequality. Here is how it works. The government takes $100 from an evil rich person. The government keeps $22 of that money to pay bureaucrats to sullenly push paper around and be rude to taxpayers. The government gives $75 of that money back to the rich person in the form of some sort of complex tax haven or other scheme that the lobbyists have arranged. That leaves $3 to go to the "poor" in the form of "free" health care, food stamps, welfare payments and Obama phones. The poor stay poor. The rich stay rich. The government gets bigger. Everyone wins except the poor people who are supposed to be the beneficiaries of all this whole charade. 

I know that few people bother to think about this issue. All they hear is "That is unfair! I will make it more fairererer!!!" I still feel the need to rant about it. 2016 is going to be equal parts ugly and fascinating so expect the rants to keep coming.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Importance Of Precision

We live in a day of imprecision, an age of ambiguity and sloppiness. From the way we dress to how we communicate, everything we do is marked by a lack of precision and even worse an utter lack of concern. A large percentage of our population is utterly unable to express even a simple thought coherently and many people don't know the difference and don't care about simple things like their, there and they're. Conversations are littered with "like" and "um" because many people don't know what they want to say and even if they do they don't know how to say it. Like so many other ills of our general culture the church suffers from this same lack of precision. The difference is that while lack of precision and indifference to accuracy might make for a frustrating experience ordering a meal at a restaurant, it can mean the difference between a true expression of the Gospel or a incorrect and damning expression of the Gospel.

I have been watching some of the presentations from the recent Together For The Gospel conference and I can't say I am all that excited by the couple I have been watching. It seems a little forced even though the topic is such am important one, a topic (the necessity for and basis of the Protestant Reformation) that is central to so much of what T4G and other groups focus on. I was able to watch one speaker via live-stream, John Piper, and his was the best talk so far. He also said something, sort of an aside that I don't think was part of his prepared comments but when he said it early in the talk I got perked up pretty quickly and I have been waiting for the videos to come out so I can share it. Here is the video:

"The Bondage of the Will, the Sovereignty of Grace, and the Glory of God" — John Piper (T4G 2016) from Together for the Gospel (T4G) on Vimeo.

Watch from about the five minute mark to around the 5:30 mark. Really you should watch the whole thing but for purposes of this post watch those 30 seconds because what Piper says is a clarion call that the whole church needs to understand and to heed. I want to highlight a couple of things he says, parsing them down for emphasis.

Every word counts.

Oh yes. This is an age of the disposable. Nothing has value. We toss words out without a thought and with no concern for how they are received. Many of us don't care much for what we say because we assume (rightly) that no one is paying much attention because they are focused on their phone.

My policy has always been simple: Say what you mean and mean what you say. The words we use and how we use them matter and again this is true nowhere more so than in the church. Some might say "Just love Jesus and love people and it will all work out!" but we see in the New Testament, especially in Galatians, how quickly people seeking another Gospel and attempt to add to or take away from the saving truth of Jesus Christ.

I love precision.

Me too! People who are alleged theologians or elders who are sloppy in their study are a huge liability for the church thanks to our subcontracting system of ministry and teaching. I am not talking about locking yourself away in your study to wrangle out how many angels can dance on the head of a pin but Christians should know what they believe and those who teach doubly so and those called to lead as elders triply so. The source material of the Bible is absolutely the most critical information and revelation one will ever encounter, if you are sloppy in handling it what does that say about your concern for the oracles of God?

The abandonment of precision and definition is the gateway to liberalism.

Yes and again I say YES. It seems to me that a lot of people read through the Bible and just sort of skim it until they find something that they like, or worse yet thanks to our myriad methods of directly searching for what you want they just skip reading the Bible as a whole and use it to pick and choose. Errors like universalism, rejecting substituionary atonement, women elders which often leads to embracing homosexual behavior, adopting a modified evolutionary worldview, etc.

Let me reiterate and restate what Piper said. Imprecision in handling the Word of God is the gateway, and not only the gateway but I would say the expressway, to liberalism which to put it simply and succinctly has meant grievous error in every manifestation past and present. 

It takes a long time to be precise, it is hard work.

Exactly, and if there is anything people hate today it is taking their time and working hard. Our world is a world of emojis and memes and twitter and abbreviations because spelling stuff out is so,,, you know? We like our religion in convenient, easy to hear and promptly ignore, sound-bytes. No one wants to read hard books or study the deep questions of the faith or wrestle with the tough parts of Scripture, especially when the Scriptures seem inconvenient to daily life. There is an old saying, anything worth doing is worth doing right.

We are talking about the eternal destiny of the souls of billions of people. We have been given a comprehensive and sufficient Word from God. At the very least we should take the time to know what we are talking about and drink deeply from the well God has provided.

Give Piper's talk a listen. As usual he doesn't fail to deliver. Especially ponder what he says about precision in handling the Word of God, a task for every Christian, because it is the very voice of God preserved for us.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Something You Don't See Everyday

The Amish around here typically have a building they call the shed, sort of a utility building (although some are huge and rather fancy) that serves for storage and once a year or so as the place that family holds church. One Amish family near us built a new shed and therefore had an extra so they were having it moved to their kid's place. I filmed this video from another Amish place on the route, it was a pretty weird sight to see...

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Singing Men (Or Not)

Albert Mohler, posting from Together for the Gospel, makes a point I have long believed.

A lot of people assume men won't sing in church but I think the reality is that men will sing "songs of conviction and gospel" rather than sappy, effeminate songs. The same is true with sermons and other forms of teaching. Give a man some lame morality lesson wrapped up in religious jargon and little wonder he falls asleep. Give a born-again brother the unadulterated meat of the Gospel and if he is a believer he will be riveted. The problem is not a lack of interest, the problem is a lack of content, of conviction, of the power of the Gospel, the magnificence of the Kingdom and the glory of Jesus Christ our King and Savior. Give us that and watch us grow!

Monday, April 04, 2016

Book Review: Imbeciles

When you hear about a government using forced sterilization to eliminate "undesirable" traits in the population, your first thought would probably be that I am talking about Nazi Germany. You would be correct in that the Nazis were well know for their grotesque fascination with racial purity achieved by whatever means necessary, whether that means forced sterilizations or the outright murder of entire populations of people who had the misfortune of being born with a disability or being of a hated racial group like the Jews. What you might not realize is that when Adolf Hitler was still a young lad, eugenics was a hot topic in the land of the free and the home of the brave, even to the point of having the Supreme Court of these United States give an 8-1 decision that blessed the practice of forcibly sterilizing those deemed to be polluting the American population pool with their undesirable traits. In fact later on during the Nazi war trials after World War II, the Nazis pointed to America as leading the charge in eugenics well before the Nazis took power.

That Supreme Court decision and the simple young woman caught up in this legal precedent form the basis for a new book from Adam Cohen, Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck. Adam Cohen details the parallel lives of Ms. Buck, her family, the legal and scientific authorities who created the foundation of forced sterilization and the nation herself during this time. As Cohen relates, Ms. Buck was considered the perfect individual to be used as a test case for Virginia's forced sterilization law. In a case reliant upon pretty sketchy science, dubious "evidence" and an utter lack of reasonable representation for Ms. Buck, the champions of eugenics found their ideal case to appeal all the way to the Supreme Court, where it received a warm welcome and most especially from liberal legal icon Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. While Cohen seems disheartened by a so-called "progressive" championing forced sterilization, Justice Holmes is in good company with other progressives like Planned Parenthood founder and heroine to Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton Margaret Sanger seeing many people as less than human impediments to progress, especially blacks.

Imbeciles is a deeply researched work. I can only imagine how many boxes and boxes of irrelevant documentation he had to dig through to get the information he sought. He also is a pretty decent story teller, avoiding for the most part the tendency of historical works to drift into a dry recitation of names, dates and events. Most of all, Imbeciles is a chilling reminder of the power of an unrestrained government to wreak havoc on the lives of people it is supposed to be serving. The American courts have long been responsible for dehumanizing decisions that have decreed certain types of people (blacks, the "feebleminded", unborn children) as subhuman and worthy of being controlled, repressed or outright killed. We divest ourselves of our liberty at our peril as has been demonstrated over and over again. I do wish Cohen had dealt more with the topic of forced sterilizations in America post Buck v. Bell and that he had expanded on the chilling rise of a new form of eugenics in "designer babies" and the abortion of less than desirable babies. Buck v Bell is still the law of the land even if individual states no longer practice forced sterilizations.

Cohen stumbles in a couple of places. First he tends to do a lot of hypothesizing about what someone was thinking or feeling to help fill in his case. Certainly one can infer from other evidence what is likely to be thought in a particular case by a certain person, but that doesn't pass the sniff test for a painstakingly researched historical work. I also found that he tended to repeat himself, almost verbatim, in places making me wonder if I had not already read a page before. Finally he spends far too much time trying to prove that Ms. Buck was not "feebleminded". To me, her alleged lower intelligence or mental retardation is irrelevant to whether the United States government and the various state governments should be in the business of forcing people to be sterilized. In one telling passage Cohen recounts that Ms. Buck was sent home from a family she was staying with for using one of their dishes as a chamber pot. That seems to be a behavior that a person of normal intelligence wouldn't do. Overall though this is a worthwhile read and one that should inform your decision making well beyond questions of eugenics.