Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Humiliation Day (Repost)

The modern mind may think of several things when remembering Thanksgiving Day, but how many would consider this to be a time of serious contemplation and even…humility?  For those who would dare to examine the beginnings of our Thanksgiving Day holiday, they would find that prayer and humiliation formulated the basis of and necessary prelude to this day of joy and celebration.  Frankly speaking, one cannot find the latter lest they seek the former. 

History reminds us of this truth, especially when we consider the writings of Mr. William Bradford who served as the governor of Plymouth Plantation almost continuously from 1621 to 1656 (except for five of years of this period).  His description of the early pilgrims, their devotion to God, and their endurance through suffering, helps us to comprehend better the significance of what we now refer to as Thanksgiving Day.  Before their own day of thanksgiving came about there was an even greater event which http://www.hdg.de/eurovisionen/images/religion/mayflower.jpgpreceded it. In Bradford's record below we learn of the hardships that visited Plymouth, even after new supplies and passengers arrived on the ship called the Anne:

"These passengers, when they saw their low and poor condition ashore, were much daunted and dismayed, and according to their divers humors were diversely affected. Some wished themselves in England again; others fell a-weeping, fancying their own misery in what they saw now in others; other some pitying the distress they saw their friends had been long in, and still were under. In a word, all were full of sadness. Only some of their old friends rejoiced to see them, and that it was no worse with them, for they could not expect it should be better, and now hoped they should enjoy better days together. And truly it was no marvel they should be thus affected, for they were in a very low condition; many were ragged in apparel and some little better than half naked, though some that were well stored before were well enough in this regard. But for food they were all alike, save some that had got a few peas off the ship that was last here. The best dish they could present their friends with was a lobster or a piece of fish without bread or anything else but a cup of fair spring water. And the long continuance of this diet, and their labours abroad, had something abated the freshness of their former complexion; but God gave them health and strength in a good measure, and showed them by experience the truth of that word, (Deuteronomy 8:3) 'That man liveth not by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth a man live.'"

"When I think how sadly the Scriptures speaks of the famine in Jacob's time, when he said to his sons, 'God buy us food, that we may live and not die,' (Genesis xlii.2 and xliii.1) that the famine was great or heavy in the land. And yet they had such great herds and store of cattle of sundry kinds, which, besides flesh, must needs produce other food as milk, butter and cheese, etc. And yet it was counted a sore affliction. Theirs here must needs be very great, therefore, who not only wanted the staff of bread but all these things, and had no Egypt to go to. But God fed them out of the sea for the most part, so wonderful is His providence over His in all ages; for His mercy endureth forever."

http://www.plimoth.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/5e06319eda06f020e43594a9c230972d/P/l/Ply_Plan_Brad.jpg"I may not here omit how, notwithstand all their great pains and industry, and the great hopes of a large crop, the Lord seemed to blast, and take away the same, and to threaten further and more sore famine unto them. By a great drought which continued from the third week in May, till about the middle of July, without any rain and with great heat for the most part, insomuch as the corn began to wither away though it was set with fish, the moisture whereof helped it much. Yet at length it began to languish sore, and some of the drier grounds were parched like withered hay, part whereof was never recovered. Upon which they set apart a solemn day of humiliation, to seek the Lord by humble and fervent prayer, in this great distress. And He was pleased to give them a gracious and speedy answer, both to their own and the Indians' admiration that lived amongst them. For all the morning, and greatest part of the day, it was clear weather and very hot, and not a cloud or any sign of rain to be seen; yet toward evening it began to overcast, and shortly after to rain with such sweet and gentle showers as gave them cause of rejoicing and blessing God. It came without either wind or thunder or any violence, and by degrees in that abundance was that the earth was thoroughly we and soaked and therewith. Which did so apparently revive and quicken the decayed corn and other fruits, as was wonderful to see, and made the Indians astonished to behold. And afterwards the Lord sent them such seasonable showers, with interchange of fair warm weather as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing. For which mercy, in time convenient, they also set apart a day of thanksgiving."

[Note: "...A law of 15 Nov. 1636 (Plymouth Colony Records XI 18) allows the Governor and Assistants 'to command solemn days of humiliation by fasting, etc., and also for thanksgiving as occasion shall be offered.'"]. Excerpt of William Bradford - Of Plymouth Plantation [1620-1647] by William Bradford, edited by Samuel Eliot Morison.

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What I love about this excerpt is that the institution of their thanksgiving celebration came some time after a day of prayer and humiliation. Here is a great lesson for us all: Genuine thankfulness can only grow and flourish in a heart that has been softened and prepared by humility (Philippians 2:1-14; 1 Cor 4:7). In view of the truth of God's word, and in view of the historic example of these godly brethren, let us all seek the Lord prayerfully, with humility, and with thanksgiving!

Soli Deo Gloria

(Repost from The Armoury, November 2005, 2009)

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Enemy of my Enemy Isn’t Necessarily my Friend

Sharia-for-the-UKI won’t be addressing the larger question her, but one must wonder about the logic behind a belief which says that democracy can be exported to Islamic/theocratic nations:

CNN – Beliefblog:  An Afghan Christian, detained for months for allegedly converting to Christianity from Islam, could face trial as early as next week - and could face a potential death penalty, officials said Sunday.

Said Musa was arrested by Afghan Interior Ministry intelligence authorities near the German Embassy in Kabul because of the allegations, said Qamaruddin Shenwari, director of the Kabul courts' north zone. The exact date of his arrest is not known.

The case against Musa has not yet been finalized, said Mohammad Najim Hamidi, director of public security at Zone 3 of the Kabul courts. He could face trial next week if the case is prepared by then, Hamidi said. It was earlier thought Musa's trial would begin on Sunday.

The Afghan Constitution does not mention converting from one religion to another, so the judge will take Islamic law into account, officials said.

"According to Afghanistan's constitution, if there is no clear verdict as to whether an act is criminal or not in the penal code of the Afghan Constitution, then it would be referred to sharia law where the judge has an open hand in reaching a verdict," Shenwari said.

Under sharia law, converting from Islam to Christianity is punishable by death.

It was not immediately clear where Musa was being held and whether he has access to his attorney or relatives.

The U.S. State Department said last week in its annual International Religious Freedom Report that "respect for religious freedom" decreased in Afghanistan in the last year, "particularly toward Christian groups and individuals."

Christians, Hindus and Sikhs - as well as Muslims whose practices don't satisfy the government or society - suffer "intolerance in the form of harassment, occasional violence, discrimination and inflammatory public statements," the report said. It estimated the Afghan Christian community ranges from 500 to 8,000 people.

While I am a strong supporter of our military (as a veteran myself), I must question a foreign policy which strengthens the hand of any government supporting Sharia law.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Indeed, Has Paul Really Said?: Appendix, Part IV

Main Series, Appendix

Within the fourth section of the appendix, I address the question concerning Wright’s relationship with the Emergent Church Movement.  It is important to note that Wright relishes his theological independence, however, he does enjoy various symbiotic relationships with those who show an affinity to his teachings.   This section explores the matter of such relationships.  For more information on the publication and release of Indeed, Has Paul Really Said? go here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Indeed, Has Paul Really Said?: Appendix, Part III

Main Series, Appendix

N.T. Wright is often credited as being a diligent exegete of Scripture.  Even Wright defends himself to the same end.  In this section I address Wright’s views concerning the subjects of exegesis and church history.  In particular, I address his implicit accusation against me, whereby he infers that I merely parrot the theology of 16th century reformers in my book; this he does while defending himself as being a vigilant exegete.  However, his observations do not square well with the fact that my own work is heavy in exegesis, but extremely light in supporting citations from theologians from church history.  This negligible use of early Reformers was intentional, and was designed to avoid the very criticism that Wright rendered anyway.  For more information on the publication and release of Indeed, Has Paul Really Said? go here.

Indeed, Has Paul Really Said?: Appendix, Part II

Main Series, Appendix

In part 2 of the Appendix I address Mr. Wright’s expressed concern over my focus on his book What Saint Paul Really Said.  In conjunction with this, he noted other works that he has written since then (two of the three I have perused and incorporated into this appendix). 

In this section I address the question of continuity between Wright’s earlier and later writings, noting that Wright himself still stands by what he wrote in What Saint Paul Really Said.  No matter what, those who choose to release their writings for public consumption have a responsibility to affirm or deny those writings should their views, over time, remain the same or change, respectively.  For more information on the publication and release of Indeed, Has Paul Really Said? go here.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

The Science is Settled: The U.N. is Worthless

 

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One of the reasons why ancient Israel became engulfed in the judgment of God is because it established a debauched confederacy with wicked nations.  In an attempt to secure better national security, Israel locked arms with Egypt and Assyria, the results of which were catastrophic:

Hosea 7:8: 8 Ephraim mixes himself with the nations; Ephraim has become a cake not turned.

Like a “cake not turned,” Israel (Ephraim) became like an inedible pastry – burnt on one side, uncooked on the other.  By “mixing” themselves with lesser nations, Israel polluted her high standing as the chosen nation of God.  When nations (or churches, by extension) establish compromising relationships such as this, they thereby shackle themselves to the degrading influences of others.  In a sense, the lowest common denominator within any syncretisitc assembly becomes the new norm, thus eliminating any hope for excellence as a sovereign entity.  When applying Hosea 7:8 to the modern era, we can say:

The science is settled - The United Nations is Useless.

Well, useless if you are a nation seeking justice and the liberty of individuals throughout the world.  However, if you are a rogue dictatorship seeking to downgrade the power and democracy of other nations, then the United Nations is just right for you.  Case in point:

[Fox News, 4/30/10] Without fanfare, the United Nations this week elected Iran to its Commission on the Status of Women, handing a four-year seat on the influential human rights body to a theocratic state in which stoning is enshrined in law and lashings are required for women judged "immodest.

Buried 2,000 words deep in a U.N. press release distributed Wednesday on the filling of "vacancies in subsidiary bodies," was the stark announcement: Iran, along with representatives from 10 other nations, was "elected by acclamation," meaning that no open vote was requested or required by any member states — including the United States.

The idea of having Iran sitting on the Commission on the Status of Women would approximate the wisdom of placing a pedophile in charge of a daycare.  One doesn’t have to look very hard to see the inequity of such a choice, especially when one considers the degrading standards that must be endured by women who live under the Iranian regime:

  • Rape Victims – Rape victims must have 4 eyewitnesses to prove that they were in fact raped.  This impossible standard is rarely fulfilled, and thus rape victims are often falsely accused of voluntary adultery.  [Note: Surah 2:282 – declares that a woman’s testimony is worth ½ of a man’s, thus her own testimony is automatically degraded without question.]
  • Prostitution by Temporary Marriage – As a way of legitimizing prostitution, Iranian men are allowed to marry and divorce women for whatever duration they need for their sexual satisfaction.  Prostitution is itself horrific – this religious version of it is actually worse.
  • Polygamy – Is justified in the Q’ran in view of the limited value of women who are seen as chattel (Surah 4:3).
  • Divorce - Standards for Divorce are very permissive with respect to the man.  A woman cannot divorce her husband, but if the husband wants to divorce his wife, all that he must do is declare – “I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you.”  By this threefold repetition of his, the marriage is considered legitimately dissolved.
  • Wife Beating - Wife Beating is instructed in Surah 4:34 – This is considered justified since “…they [women] spend out of their property [i.e., women spend the man’s money].”  As twisted as it all is, men are given the right to treat their wives like property such that they can be beaten like an animal. 

By extension, let me say that because of these Q’ranic standards, no Islamic nation should be within a million miles of a commission on the fair treatment of Women – or any other commission dealing with human rights in any form. 

We can only wonder how this newly formed commission would react to a woman being brutally slain, in public view, for her peaceful participation in a demonstration - as in the case of Neda Soltan.  Shortly after her death, Iranian authorities tried to coerce Neda’s surviving family into confessing that she was actually killed by her fellow protestors, but this charge was later disproved by video revealing the capture of Neda’s murderer: an Iranian militiaman riding a motorcycle.  After her death, she was denied a proper funeral by government officials and, sadly, when the family sought time to grieve and remember Neda, supporters of the Iranian regime desecrated her grave.  While this is a more recent account of Iran’s abuse against its citizens, there are countless other stories of murder and abuse committed against Iranian women as well. 

Once again - to the extent that our nation “mixes” itself with dictatorships like Iran, via the U.N., we too become impotent, directionless - even worthless like a cake not turned.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Indeed, Has Paul Really Said?: Appendix, Part I

Main Series, Appendix

N.T. Wright’s doctrinal relationship with men like E.P. Sanders, and others within the NPP movement, is a complex one.  Wright’s frequent citations of Sanders, for example, reveals this.  Some of these citations come in the form of criticisms, while most others come in the form of partial or full praise.  In the end, Wright stands within the proximity of the NPP movement as one who is advancing the movement more deeply into the realm of doctrinal eccuminism.  But these associations provide several challenges to Wright himself, and within this section I address Wright’s attempt to distinguish himself from the rest of the NPP community. 

For more information on the publication and release of Indeed, Has Paul Really Said? go here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Indeed, Has Paul Really Said?: Appendix, An Introduction

Main Series

Appendix: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

Back in 2007 I completed a brief, four part series on N.T. Wright’s book entitled, What Saint Paul Really Said.  This then became the seed form for a book entitled – Indeed, has Paul Really Said? [A Critique of N.T. Wright’s Teaching on Justification].  Since the completion of this work, I have withheld it from distribution for a few reasons:

1. I wanted to give Mr. Wright an opportunity to respond to my own critique – correcting any misunderstandings that I may have conveyed in the process; and …

2. I also wanted to read some more contemporary works by Wright to see if he had altered his views in any way. 

Now, three years later, I can say that I have availed myself to both of these objectives.  Concerning the latter, I have consulted Wright’s “big commentary on Romans” in the New Interpreter’s Bible in order to see if his nuanced views of justification have been altered in any way.  Concerning the former, I emailed Wright in December of 2007 with an attached copy of the earliest transcript of my book, giving him the opportunity to critique what I had written up to that point.  In summary, I must say that his comments seemed rather odd to me, and yet they did unveil a strangely familiar form of strained logic which actually comports with what I have seen in his other writings. 

In other words, I wasn’t terribly surprised by his response. 

Having come to this point in my labors, I hope to complete my Critique of N.T. Wright’s Teaching on Justification by adding an Appendix to it, and first publishing it here (in summary form) on The Armoury.  The final form of it will be more thorough in the printed book, but most of it will be annexed here (online) as a final production of the original weblog series.  My development of the Appendix will be fairly simple: Wright’s email response to me was delivered in five points, which included an appeal from him that I consult two of his more recent works: 1. Paul, In Fresh Perspective; and 2. The New Interpreter’s Bible (Romans).  Thus, I will segment Wright’s five responses in an order that will enable me to structure an analysis of these two works of his, with the objective of answering this important question:  

Has Mr. Wright altered his views in any significant way?

[For more information on the publication and release of Indeed, Has Paul Really Said? go here].

Friday, March 05, 2010

Muslims versus the Munafiqun

America’s self deception is phenomenal.  Many today will mindlessly repeat the expression “Islam is a religion of peace” – an expression which gained popularity, especially during the Bush years, and thus became the defacto creed for all those who worship at the altar of P.C. (political correctness).  However, those who are willing to examine the Koran, and especially the daily news, understand that the weekly body count claimed by the followers of Allah contradicts such a mantra – no matter how many times the PCers chant it.  Fearfully, the multitudes will avoid saying that which is painfully obvious – Islam is anything but a religion of peace.  In reality, those who claim allegiance to Allah, but who refrain from “slaying the infidel” for Allah’s sake (Surah 8:7, 9:5, 47:4), would be classified as a munafiq (backslider) by Muhammad himself.  Unfortunately, the only people who are willing to tell the truth about Islam are those who have been sidelined as irrelevant “extremists.”  Case-in-point: consider the interview below conducted with Anjem Choudary – an outspoken proponent of Islam in the UK.  He correctly defines the word “Islam” and reminds his viewers what the true tenants of Islam require from the genuine followers of the cult of Muhammad.

(Note: I disdain CBN for much of what it represents, however the interview below possesses such value that I am willing to post their work.  Ultimately, such an interview as this speaks for itself, no matter who would have conducted it):

Wednesday, February 24, 2010