First Person Life


You've probably seen it before...

But this joke was just too funny to pass up. I hate filling people's inboxes, so I'm posting it here for all to see.

[WARNING: This joke is not theologically correct...]


Jesus and Satan were having an on-going argument about who was better on the computer. They had been going at it for days, and frankly God was tired of hearing all the bickering.

Finally fed up, God said, "THAT'S IT! I have had enough. I am going to set up a test that will run for two hours, and from those results, I will judge who does the better job."

So Satan and Jesus sat down at the keyboards and typed away.

They moused.

They faxed.

They e-mailed.

They e-mailed with attachments.

They downloaded.

They did spreadsheets! .

They wrote reports.

They created labels and cards.

They created charts and graphs.

They did some genealogy reports.

They did every job known to man.

Jesus worked with heavenly efficiency and Satan was faster than hell.

Then, ten minutes before their time was up, lightning suddenly flashed across the sky, thunder rolled, rain poured, and, of course, the power went off. Satan stared at his blank screen and screamed every curseword known in the underworld. Jesus just sighed.

Finally the electricity came back on, and each of them restarted their computers. Satan started searching frantically, screaming:

"It's gone! It's all GONE!

"I lost everything when the power went out!"

Meanwhile, Jesus quietly started printing out all of his files from the past two hours of work.

Satan observed this and became irate.

"Wait!" he screamed.

"That's not fair! He cheated!

How come he has all his work and I don't have any?"

God just shrugged and said,


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I'm a conspiracy nutcase

There, I've said it. (Wow, that was cathardic -- not really).

What is the conspiracy I'm taken in by? -- is it the assassination of JFK -- that aliens are plotting to take over the world, being helped by the federal government?

No, I believe the conspiracy that is attested to by Scripture. The conspiracy of every evil force plotting and scheming to keep as many away from the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as possible. Satan himself is prince of this world (including the political and legal institutions) and realizes that each day his reign is coming closer to an end. As such, he does everything within his power to assure that as many people reject the free gift of salvation offered through Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah. The very Son of God who was born of human flesh, lived a life of perfect obedience, and died so that we might believe in Him and be reconciled to God -- forgiven and redeemed by Christ. All proven by His resurrection from the dead.

(O.K. so it's kind of like aliens taking over the world, but I digress...)

This assault will not prevail. God's Word will continue to go forth, but we can expect increasing resistance to the proclamation of the Gospel. A Gospel which is rooted in historical events surrounding an hisorical person. Without the historic Jesus, our faith is in vain. Unless he was born, lived, died, and risen from the dead, we are still in our trespasses and sin -- with no hope.

Now, an Italian Court will decide (AP - via Sioux City Journal, Iowa) whether it is permissible in Italy to claim that Jesus is an historical person.

We are not currently required to use "qualifying language" to talk about the salvation wrought by Jesus of Nazareth to save sinners. This may soon be required in Italy (USA Today). Even if it's not, the doubt injected into people's minds by the mere existence of this suit is dangerous enough (See 1/29/2006 Post).


As I expected, the case against the historicity of Christ is moving forward in Italy. This page will collect links regarding what the wider world is saying are the ramifications of the court case and to chart its progress.

Unlike some who believe this is a tempest in a tea-pot I maintain this is an all out satanic assault on the Gospel. Quotes from various articles (with links) appear below to explain why.

Italian Atheist Sues Priest Over Jesus' Existence (USA TODAY: 1/31/2006)

"The court will have to decide whether the statements Father Righi made were indeed fraudulent to decide whether the case has merit," says Antonio Schieppati, a retired director of the law faculty at the University of Rome and a legal consultant. "It has to make a judgment about the existence of Christ. As far as I know, no court has ever been required to do such a thing."

COMMENT: And we thought the Scopes Monkey trial was a big undecided question in it's day.

Schieppati says that if Cascioli is successful, the church will be forced to use conditional language when writing about some faith-related issues for the public. Even if the suit fails, it may damage the Catholic church's reputation.

COMMENT: How would this affect YOUR sermon preparation if you lived in Italy? Realize that you could be sued (or imprisoned?) for claiming that the incarnation was an historical event. How would you change your preaching to accomodate such a demand? The fact is, you can't. Without the historical reality of Christ, there is no Christianity.

COMMENT 2: I don't think it's the Catholic Church alone whose reputation would be damaged. Any church that preaches the Gospel purely (i.e. EVERY TRUE LUTHERAN EVANGELICAL CHURCH) will be case under suspicion by this court case. Yes, we are back to the time when the Pharisees and Sadducees are searching for a way to destroy Jesus.

The burden is on Cascioli to prove Jesus is a fabrication.

COMMENT: This is the opposite view than that held by the Zimbabwe Chronicle who claims that the burden of proof is on Righi to prove Jesus did exist. Anyone know anything about Italian Law that would shed light on this? It seems to me that the USAToday staff might be understanding the legal system from a distinctly American view of "Innocent until proven guilty." Remeber the Inquisition? But on the other hand, not knowing Italian Law, I have no idea who to believe here.

The End of God?(Mail and Guardian - Zimbabwe, Africa 1/27/2006)
Whereas he is under no obligation to prove that Jesus did not exist, Righi must prove to a learned judge, who must decide the merits of the case not in terms of his own religious beliefs, whatever they might be, but on the basis of law, that Jesus did exist, and was God incarnate.

COMMENT: I don't know the nuances of Italian Law, so I can't speak to the legal requirements of what Righi must prove to prevail in this case. However, if this language is how the media spins it, it becomes reality in many people's minds.

The Italian laws are not idiosyncratic. Belgium has similar laws in draft form which will make it a punishable offence to “abuse credulity in order to persuade [an individual] of the existence of false enterprises, an imaginary power or the occurrence of non-existing events” and there are moves afoot in the European Union to overrule religious objection as being a sufficient basis to avoid legal obligations. For instance, EU experts insist that the legal right of an individual to an abortion overrules the right of others to refuse to facilitate such an abortion. In other words, the standing and the legitimacy of behaviour based upon sectarian or faith-based belief is under serious threat. Cascioli is simply riding solo right at the front of the secular wave.

COMMENT: Again, I'm not an expert on International Law, the EU and the laws of other countries, but if true this analysis is very telling with regard to "the bigger picture" of what's going on.

Righi might imagine that his star witness would be Josephus Flavius, a Jewish historian of the period who appears to have testified to the existence of “Jesus, a wise man” who was crucified. If Righi puts Flavius in the witness box (so to speak), he runs the risk of Cascioli’s calling his own expert witness, Professor John Meier, well known Christian scholar, and author of A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus. Cascioli: “Tell me Professor, do you have any reason to doubt the historical integrity of Mr Flavius?” Oh absolutely. For instance, he had no compunction whatsoever in concocting an immense web of lies to support his claim to have been a Pharisee. “So, from a historiographical point of view, Mr Flavius is not a reliable witness?” Oh, absolutely not. “What’s the likelihood of a staunch Jew, one who writes a history precisely to demonstrate the superiority of Judaism over other religions, testifying to the status of Jesus Christ as the long-prophesied messiah?” None whatsoever, he never wrote that passage, it was a forgery interpolated by later Christians. Imagine letting Matlock loose on Righi’s witnesses!

COMMENT: Obviously, this is not a transcript of the real court case, but it is certainly interesting to consider how "reliable" the evidence is. Lest we be confused about this. It is true, there is substantially more evidence for the existence of Christ than any other historical figure around the period. However, there are very few (any?) individuals of historic value in the same manner as Christ. Moses may or may not have existed, and the Jewish religion could still stand. Socrates may or may not have existed, and modern rhetoric and philosophy would not suffer. I cannot think of any other individual in history that is so tied in to the eternal fate of so many. It is the teachings of Confucious, not Confusious himself. It is the teachings of Mohammed, not Mohammed himself. But in the case of Jesus of Nazareth, if he doesn't exist -- humanity is doomed.


It seems to me quite opportune that this case will be playing out at the same time the 2006 Winter Olympics are being held in Italy. There will be plenty of press around to cover the trial. If my conspiracy theory is correct, the court will rule in Cascioli's favor either toward the end of the games or during a lul on an otherwise slow news day. According to Mapquest,
the travel time between Torino and Viterbo Italy is less than 6 hours -- a quick trip for a correspondent looking for a big story.
Other Articles: (I may extract some as time allows)

  • Christ, Darwin on Trial (Chicago Tribune - Editorial - 1/29/2006)
  • Italian court asked to prove existence of Jesus in unusual case against parish priest(Sioux City Journal - AP - 1/31/2006)


  • Cascioli's Lawsuit Page (English)

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  • 2006-01-29

    Historicity of Christ is irrelavent?

    I've posted on the case of the priest being tried in Italy for claiming that Jesus Christ existed. (1/22/2006 and 1/5/2006). But I must say, I'm disappointed at the legal defense being mounted as well as the lack of any further statements by the Christian community as a whole. Yes, it may sound silly to us. But the overall court case is not at all funny.

    He said he told Mautone during the hearing that Righi was not asserting a historical fact when he wrote of Jesus' existence, but rather "an expression of theological principles."

    "When Don Righi spoke about Christ's humanity ... he was affirming that he needs to be considered as a man. What his name is, where he comes from or who his parents are is secondary," he said.


    Unlike others, I'm not ready to assert that a favorable verdict for Cascioli in this case would make the Italian Courts a laughing stock. This is especially true when even the defendent apparently isn't willing to make the claim that Jesus existed but rather hides behind his existence as "an expression of theological principles" (whatever that means).

    However, it can't escape our attention that in this country, what a court says and what people think to be true are two very different things. For instance, a court in California said O.J. Simpson was not guilty. Yet, 77% of respndents of a 2004 NBC survey believe he was guilty.

    It can't escape notice that people's attitudes and beliefs are no longer shaped by what is provably true. This is one of the most difficult things to grasp about postmodernism. Propositional truth is irrelavent. It is not embraced nor is it rejected. It simply doesn't matter.

    When this is considered in light of recent research about how people react when they already have their mind made up (1/25/2006 post), especially on emotional issues, we have a deadly combination, don't we?

    What is a more natural position for fallen man to take? (a) That Jesus Christ didn't exist, so the God of Christianity is a false God, so I don't have to worry about this whole SIN thing, I can just live my life any-old-way I want. -OR- (b) That Jesus Christ existed, that the Biblical narrative is true?

    I think we know that fallen mankind would rather live under the delusion of (A). And this is what propaganda surrounding this case allows people to do.

    The devil is a wonderful psychologist.

    He's watched humanity for thousands of years and knows every weakness.

    He's stripped us from our dependence on authority when the concept of feudalism and empires was destroyed.

    He moved that into the church in the reformation (I'm not saying the church didn't need it, I'm just pointing out some of the negatives).

    He encouraged democracy and the concept of "self rule" and got that ingraned in peoples psyche. Now many churches feel that they must cater to the popular masses just like politicians do -- bowing and scraping to their fickle desires -- abandoning truth because it just doesn't poll well.

    He's moved us away from even testing and contemplating whether or not an objective reality exists and whether or not it is even knowable -- throwing the world into self-delusion and giving everyone license to construct their own reality centered around themselves (i.e. postmodernism).

    Now he comes along and puts it into some crackpot atheists head to start a global discussion (thanks to the Internet and the modern Media) about whether or not Jesus Christ -- who achieved victory over Satan on the cross in a crushing defeat -- proven by his resurrection from the dead on the third day -- even existed.

    Notice, Satan isn't saying Christ didn't defeat him, he's trying to wipe it from the consciousness that Christ even existed. Then he doesn't have to argue about whether Christ won or not...

    The way I read the situation, this is certainly a demonic and evil plot. We know that will not prevail against the church of God because He will always preserve a remnant... but we also recognize, He often does so in spite of our own unfaithfulness.

    So now for the questions: In a world where we are ruled by our preconceived notions (i.e. deluded) and reject even a rational/propositional approach to truth (i.e. postmodern) -- what impact does just the existence of this law suit have on our ability to proclaim the truth and have it heard? What is the impact of allowing the discussion to be had around us while we sit silently? Ought we just denounce it as "silly" and leave it at that? If not, what ought our response be?

    I don't really have answers... but doesn't anyone else see a problem here?

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    Lutheran Carnival Online

    The Terrible Swede hosts the Lutheran Carnival XVI. Browse on over and take a look at what other Confessional Lutherans are saying.

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    Are you "partisan"?

    Modern brain research has (once again) validated what we all know... Original sin taints the human mind... including our ability to think logically.

    In this research, they examined the brain patterns of partisan politicians (Democrat and Republican)

    The study points to a total lack of reason in political decision-making.

    "None of the circuits involved in conscious reasoning were particularly engaged," Westen said. "Essentially, it appears as if partisans twirl the cognitive kaleidoscope until they get the conclusions they want, and then they get massively reinforced for it, with the elimination of negative emotional states and activation of positive ones."

    National politics aside -- I think this is something worth considering when we think about other areas of life where "politics" enters -- often as an unwelcomed guest. For example, we often hear the laments about "politics in the church" -- which seems to grow in intensity on a three year cycle... but is always "there" in the background.

    The overall implication is, the human mind will twist reality to fit its own preconceived notions. You might be saying, "yeah, I know. It's so irritating when my oppenent in an argument does that." The import of this research is that it is likely not only your opponent who is doing it.

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    Has Iran figured out the West?

    Rev. Waters pointed out this op/ed piece on Jewish World Review.

    It's a provacative article. Perhaps the Iranian president does understand the West and its postmodern mindset better than even those of us who live in it do.

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    Vatican decides to 'cash in' on the Word of God.

    Apparently, the Vatican has decided to "cash in" (TimesOnline,UK) on the Word of God as it is spread.


    Under new rules, those publishing books or other works with quotations from any Pope of the last 50 years must negotiate rights at a cost of between 3 and 5 percent of the publication price. This includes books that are currently in print, as one publisher found out when they received an invoice from the Vatican for 15,000 Euro for an anthology that contained 30 lines from Benedict's speach to the conclave that elected him.

    Of course, newspapers will be able to continue to quote from official documents after they have been released, but only by "prior agreement." And, according to the article linked above, the rule applies not only to papal encyclicals, "but also the Pope’s homilies at his weekly audiences on Wednesdays, and his addresses at Angelus prayers on Sundays."

    This introduces a number of questions -- just who owns the Word of God? In what sense should sermons and other similar material be considered "intellectual property" to be sold for profit? Where do we draw the line?

    I realize, St. Paul said, "Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. " (I Cor. 9:14 KJV), but he did so in the context of saying that he didn't assert this right among the Corinthians. I realize it is the will of God that those who benefit from the Gospel should share with the one who shared the Gospel with them. But to what extent should that be enforced and at what point is it self-enriching versus subsistence?

    Any authors out there who have given this serious thought?

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    Itialian Case against existence of Jesus - part of bigger goal

    There's more information out about the Italian court case between an atheist who is trying to prove that Jesus is a fabrication of the church and a Roman Priest (the defendant in the case) for claiming that Jesus is an historical figure.

    From a new article from CNN:
    Cascioli says he is merely going through the necessary legal steps in Italy so he can ultimately take the matter to the European Court of Human Rights, where he intends to pursue the case against the church for "religious racism."


    So here we apparently have the reason that Cascioli is attacking the historicity of Jesus. He wants to get Christians declared "religious racists." I don't think that this case is insiginificant with these goals in mind -- and while the case in Italy will likely fail, I'm not quite so certain about a case at the EC failing.

    I'm guessing if he gets the EC to rule in his favor, he'll use that as leverage for a UN ruling -- possibly at the International Crimminal Court.

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I'm not sure I'm willing to travel too far down the path with questions escatalogical significance at this point, I would say that the quote above is an interesting development.

    "Why now?", you ask.

    "I was born against Christ and God," he said. "I'm doing it (the complaint) now because I should do it before I die."

    Well, at least he understands the human condition regarding our own natural ability to fear, love, and trust in God. It's sad to see someone so deluded and obviously lost and condemned by stark refusal to believe the truth.

    What are your thoughts about the significance of this case and Cascioli's attempts and future plans at the EC, ICC, or UN?

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    Just why is Mary Blessed among women?

    "And it came about while He [Jesus] said these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice, and said to Him, 'Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts at which You nursed.' But He said, 'On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.' " (Luke 11:27-28 NASB)

    I happened across this short interchange while I was reading through Luke today and it struck me. Why is it that we call Mary Blessed?

    Don't get me wrong, I certainly consider Mary blessed among women, as Scripture says. There is no doubt that she was shown special favor by God. But when we say that, what exactly are we saying?

    Are we saying that Mary somehow merits that special status? That she, herself, is somehow more holy than other women? That she, herself, is somehow to be praised, honored, or even worshipped?

    The answer to that question must be a resounding "NO!" But reading the above verses caused me to revisit the earlier passages in Luke which speak of Mary. While in Luke 1:28 we have Mary saluted by Gabriel who calls her "favored," and she is one who has "found favor with God," this is not to be taken that she somehow merited favor. And when Elizabeth calls her, "Blessed among women," she is not indicating that Mary somehow, of her own doing or being, deserves such honor.

    Rather, all of these must be taken in light of Mary's comment in Luke 1:38 where Mary responds to Gabriel and says, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word." This is proved by our citation above, Luke 11:27-28.

    It is not that Mary has somehow sought favor and found it with God that she was blessed to be the mother of our Lord, but rather that she "obtained grace from God," and was made the mother of God. It is that heard the word of God spoken by the angel Gabriel and believed it and acted according to it. It was thus not her inherent worth, but the grace of God bestowed upon her and the resulting faith that came from hearing God's word to her that she became blessed.

    Thus it is with all of us. When we hear the Good News of Jesus Christ -- that through Him our sins are forgiven -- we receive that same faith. For Faith comes by hearing the Word of God!

    Praise God that it is so. And let us continue to call Mary "Blessed" for upon her was bestowed the special gift of carrying the seed promised in the garden of Eden. That seed which was promised to Abraham that would be a blessing to all nations. Namely, Jesus, the Christ who was the lamb without blemish who took upon himself the guilt due for our iniquities and was bruised for our transgressions that through Him, we might inherit eternal life.

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    Just when is a person or animal "dead"?

    The frontiers of science are quickly going to force us to finally grapple with the definition of "death" in a way we never thought possible.

    In recent research, extreme hypothermia has been induced in animals (originally, I saw research on dogs -- this research is on pigs) to put them in a state of "suspended animation" during which time the physical processes of metabolism on a cellular level are nearly non-existent and brain activity ceases entirely. This is accomplished by draining the patient's blood and replacing it with a chryogenic saline solution.

    After medical personnel sew up the damage, the patient's blood is warmed and placed back in the body and the patient revived.


    After obtaining a 90% success rate with pigs, a surgeon in Boston Massachussets is seeking to have automatic authorization to attempt the procedure on humans that would "probably die with only standard care."

    There are a number of points at which this research intersects with theology:

    When is someone "dead"?
    - what about baptism in cases of still birth where the baby in the womb was alive?
    - what if you were out getting water to baptize an adult and they (clinically) died before you got back?

    What would the spiritual status of a person "revived" after such a procedure be?

    I'm sure there are a bunch of other ways that this intersects with the faith... what else needs to be explored?

    I'm sure we can gleen information from the resurrection miracles of the OT and the NT to examine the issue. I don't think we have a choice but to begin thinking about it. It will only be a matter of time that all of the legal hoops are jumped through and someone is able to try this on humans. What type of response is appropriate? What are the ethical implications for such a medical procedure? Should it be done at all? Why or why not?

    Obviously, this will require deeper thought than a few blog posts. But as a faith community, we better start looking at this carefully.

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    Would you turn a family member in?

    The recent case of two sons who turned in their father for bank robbery made headlines and caught some people's attention. It would be tough to turn in a parent or other family member. But apparently, if Great Britain police have their way, the choice may be made for you if you're a Brittish citizen.

    From the Article:
    Police can now track down offenders by matching samples with other family members who may be on the database.

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    Just what would happen if...?

    It's truly not that I wish ill on anyone, but just once, I'd like to know how the media would spin an Old Testament type death of someone who makes a spectacle of themselves worshipping a false god. Or if it would even be reported at all...

    UPDATE: CNN Reports: Bolivian President-elect Evo Morales, dressed in a bright red tunic worn only by the most important pre-Inca priests, promised Saturday to do away with vestiges of this country's colonial past in a spiritual ceremony at an ancient temple on the eve of his inauguration.

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    Men and Women are wired differently?

    There's a report (NYTimes) of research that indicates men and women are actually wired differently when it comes to feeling empathy.
    In the study, when male subjects witnessed people they perceived as bad guys being zapped by a mild electrical shock, their M.R.I. scans lit up in primitive brain areas associated with reward. Their brains' empathy centers remained dull.

    Women watching the punishment, in contrast, showed no response in centers associated with pleasure. Even though they also said they did not like the bad guys, their empathy centers still quietly glowed.

    What implications might this have for:

    Women in combat
    Men in "empathy" based careers (nursing, for instance)
    The role of gender in Jury selection

    That's just a quick list of things that seems would be impacted by such research. Can you come up with others? Does this say something about Women in Ministry? (if so what?)

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    This is NOT Science!

    Puh-leeze !! This is Science?

    Ok, so they find a fossil of a fish that has something that resembles the eustacian tubes of human beings (i.e. the tube that connects the ear to the throat). Now all of the sudden, this is a precursor to the human ear. I'm confused. It's a great "theory," but c'mon... where is the "observation" and "measurement" that links this to modern humans? I mean, who saw the fish turn into a person? Or, where are the recorded observations of one or more scientists who witnessed the progeny of these animals as they they procreated through time... eventually becoming human beings?

    We are told that science is based on "observation" and "measurement" of phenomena by the scientific establishment. Then they go and violate their own rules by adding assumptions and faith. Let's get back to real science that works from what we know to be true, not what we think or hope might be true.

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    Shouldn't they let sanctions work first?

    The French at least talk big when it comes to dealing with terrorism. But, c'mon... Shouldn't they be forced to work within the United Nations and let sanctions work first?

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    Rick Warren's Ideas Do Some Good?

    Ok, I've railed on him quite a bit... but it does actually appear that Rick Warren's books might be doing some good in Charasmatic/Pentecostal circles. I'm not going to endorse Warren's theology, but apparently his book has at least changed one pastor's mind about one aspect of ecclesiology.


    3. Be sensitive to how spiritual gifts are exercised
    We made the decision to change the way the gift of prophecy was exercised. Any member of the congregation with a word of prophecy first speaks with me or another designated person who discerns if the message is genuine and appropriate.

    This is by no means a ringing endorsement (or any endorsement) for Warren on my part, and it must be said that there were mitigating circumstances. But, at least according to the this "senior pastor of a Charismatic church established in the 1970s during the earliest days of the Spirit-led movement in New England," Warren's book in part led to the change. So I guess, "all things do work together for good..."


    Technorati Links:RickWarren Charismatics PurposeDriven Ecclesiology

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    Well, the New York Times chose not to print my Op-Ed piece. I could possibly submit it elsewhere, but I'm not sure it's worth the effort. So, I've decided to publish it here.


    With the debate regarding teaching “Intelligent Design” essentially over, perhaps it is time to take a serious look at the remainder of the science curriculum of our nations public schools to assure that religious dogma is not being improperly imposed upon our children.

    The teaching of “evolutionary science” in our nation's schools is not an attempt to train our children to carefully observe their world and think critically. Instead, it brings with it underlying beliefs which are no less religious than a belief in an unnamed intelligent designer. In both cases, the processes which gave rise to the universe as we now know it are neither measurable nor observable and thus are not properly termed “science.”

    The scientific establishment denies that this view of the world is a religious explanation because “evolutionary science” does not include revealed knowledge or a metaphysical or supernatural realm inhabited by souls, spirits, angels, gods, etc..

    This falsely sets up religion and science as engaged in separate quests seeking truth about different realities. Under this view, religion is the quest for understanding metaphysical or supernatural reality and science is the quest for understanding nature or physical reality.

    The truth is that the fundamental differences between religions are not the statements they make about the metaphysical realm but those things that are taken on faith. What differentiates religions are those things that are believed to be true in the absence of definitive proof. A religious tradition attempts to explain observations of the real world based upon the underlying beliefs of the tradition.

    The National Science Education Standards developed by the National Academy of Sciences for use in our schools state, “the general idea of evolution is that the present arises from materials and forms of the past,” and this “accounts for the present form and function of objects, organisms, and natural and designed systems.”

    This description of “evolution” is a religious statement. It dogmatically asserts that the material world is eternally existing and self-perpetuating. Faith in this underlying concept is the foundation of “evolutionary science.”

    Like most religions, “evolutionary science” is internally consistent. If you accept the underlying presuppositions, the remainder of the system fits properly into place. According to “evolutionary science,” the history of the earth as extends back 4.5 billion years with life coming into existence 4 billion years ago.

    All of this is asserted based upon observations made in the last 450 years as understood through the lens of faith “that the present arises from materials and forms of the past.” Any idea which draws this underlying assumption into question is marginalized and declared “unscientific” heresy. Being founded upon dogmatic assertions, “evolutionary science” qualifies itself as a religion, but not science. According to the National Academy of Science, “anything that can be observed or measured is amenable to scientific investigation.” However, the supposed 4.5 billion year history of the earth cannot be scientifically investigated without relying on assumptions about the processes giving rise to the universe as we know it. Whether the assumptions assert a specific metaphysical reality that brought the universe into existence through divine creation or “that the present arises from materials and forms of the past,” is irrelevant. In either case, it is an assumption that can be neither observed nor measured and is therefore not amenable to scientific investigation. It must be taken on “faith” which is the hallmark of any religious system.

    Such a religious viewpoint should not be allowed into public schools and imposed upon our children. As the court in Kitzmiller v. Dover properly observed when it quoted previous decisions, “Families entrust public schools with the education of their children, but condition their trust on the understanding that the classroom will not purposely be used to advance religious views that may conflict with the private beliefs of the student and his or her family.” We should honor the trust that parents place in public schools.

    Matthew Dent holds a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Religious Studies from Concordia University in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is currently pursuing a Masters of Divinity at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana. His personal blog can be found at:


    (1) The assertion that:
    "The scientific establishment denies that this view of the world is a religious explanation because “evolutionary science” does not include revealed knowledge or a metaphysical or supernatural realm inhabited by souls, spirits, angels, gods, etc.." is a summary of the position quoted in: "Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science" page 54, published by: The National Academy of Science PDF at:

    (2) Quotation of the definition of "evolution" can be found in numerous publications of the National Academy of Sciences. Most notably: National Science Education Standards - page 130 [PDF at]

    (3)Quotation from the court opinion can be found on page 36 of the decision.

    UPDATE - 1/19/2006 3:20 PM - changed "Kitzmer" to "Kitzmiller".

    Technorati Tags:

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    Vatican Newspaper says Intelligent Design - not Science

    Apparently, the official Vatican newspaper agrees (USA Today) that Intelligent Design isn't science. That's fine, I don't think it's science either.

    But it's what they do say that frigntens me. I mean, when you have things like:
    "God in his infinite freedom continuously creates a world that reflects that freedom at all levels of the evolutionary process to greater and greater complexity," he wrote. "He is not continually intervening, but rather allows, participates, loves."

    Ok, I'm confused. How is it that God "continuously creates a world" without "continually intervening" in that same world? What am I smoking that causes me to think this is one of the most severe cases of double-speak I've ever read in theology.

    And then, to concieve of God as, "an encouraging parent"? What kind of babble is that? Why exactly must I, "move away from the notion of a dictator God or a designer God?" I admit, God is not, "a Newtonian God who made the universe as a watch that ticks along regularly." But, that doesn't mean he's simply dad sitting in the bleachers with a pom-pom, a bag of chips and a beer while I'm sweating it out on the court of life either!

    I believe in a God who created the universe and created me. When he created the universe, he also created human beings with an ability to choose whether or not to listen to Him and obey Him as the creator of the universe. They chose not to. As such, the whole of creation "went to hell in a handbasket." This is the world we live in today. However, he also promised that he would INTERVENE in the world and send someone to make it possible for us to live eternally with Him in spite of the fact that we screwed up. He sent his only begotten son into the flesh. Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, lived a life of perfect obedience, suffered and died taking upon himself the guilt of all mankind (every single human being). On the third day, he rose from the dead proving that He was the Messiah.

    I believe in a God who constantly intervenes in the affairs of this world through the Means of Grace. Namely it is through His Holy Word spoken by the prophets and the evangelists and recorded in Scripture as well as Baptism that He proclaims the precious truth of this Gospel of Reconciliation to all mankind. And it is the Supper that He instituted "on the night in which he was betrayed" in which we eat his body and drink His blood that was sacrificed on the cross to make atonement for our sins.

    Anything else is to portray God as an impotent cheerleader or an absent watchmaker. Or at the very least, a liar. Because these are the things He tells me about Himself in Scripture.

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    New Paper Online

    I've uploaded my most recent paper regarding language and interpretation to LearningGreek.

    ABSTRACT: The following pages discuss recent developments in the sciences of linguistics and human cognition as they relate to language. The aim is to determine whether or not these developments can assist the theologian in his task of understanding the scriptures. The primary question to be answered is whether the use of the information gained from these sciences would deny the doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture.

    I got an "A" on it... so it can't be TOO bad.

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    Don't you know who I am ?!?!

    I found this interesting article at the Telegraph. It seems that the subtle threat, "Do you know who I am?" to a social inferior in Italy may land you in court!

    We all like to think we're somebody. It's part of the fallen human condition. Add to that any sort of hierarchical structure which gives someone the privelege to think that they are somebody special, and swollen heads abound.

    Then, even outside the context to which their status pertains, they continue to think they're somebody. But, as was aptly pointed out in the article:
    "Usually the people who use this phrase are either out of touch with reality or they don't count at all," said Fulvio Sarzana, a Roman lawyer.

    "Anybody who really is someone moves with a little more caution."

    As Christians, we know that our righteous status before God is only by His grace accomplished through the work of Jesus Christ. We have no right to our place in heaven. In fact, we deserve never ending punishment because of our willful sin against God.

    Thanks be to God that He is gracious. Through that grace, He shows us not only who we are, sinners who have been forgiven through Christ, but also who everyone else in the world is, a sinner, forgiven through Christ.

    In spite of the fact that others may not realize it, God's word declares it to be true.

    Let us then walk in a way which makes clear that we know this truth; that our brother, sister, co-worker, boss, and even our enemies are what they are, sinners, who have been forgiven through Christ.

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    For the Families of those who died...

    NOTE: This was first drafted 1/4/2006. Few modifications have been made since the original draft, and it should not have taken this long for the post to be completed. The words here apply equally to those who grieve whether the families of the miners in Virginia or the families of those who died near Mecca this week.


    As I consider the unfolding of the events for the families in W. Virginia, I'm forced to think about how I would handle the situation if I were a pastor (or Vicar) in that community (or any community faced with an unexpected disaster-- tsunami, hurricane, tornado, riots, whatever). Some of my thoughts appear below.

    First, I would need to come to grips with the reality of the situation and put it in a biblical perspective. The world's messed up. Things aren't what they were created to be. When sin entered the world, it had an effect on everything in creation. Ultimately, these things happen because of sin.

    Because of sin, our loved ones get ripped away from us -- sometimes expectedly sometimes unexpectedly -- either way it's "unnatural" from the way things were created to be.

    Because of sin, people make mistakes -- sometimes blinded by passions, sometimes blinded by pride, sometimes out of sheer ignorance or even incompetence.

    Because of sin, the weather patterns are screwed up -- rain, snow, sleet, ice, storms, hurricanes, tsunamis, tornados -- all are a byproduct of the fall.

    Because of sin, the universe seems chaotic and cruel -- we can't see what's "really" going on, because we're blind to the spiritual realities of the universe -- because of sin.

    Having firmly established the cause in my own mind, I'm guessing next comes listening. Before pontificating with all the answers, I'd want to find out what questions people are asking, what answer's they're anticipating, and whether they will hear the truth even if it's spoken to them. Grieve with them, hear them out.

    When they're seeking answers, REALLY seeking answers, give them. Why did this happen? because of sin.

    Disasters and death are the full force of the Law. It's unavoidable. In witnessing death and destruction, we're confronted with our own mortality and our own utter impotence in the universe. When faced with a Category 5 hurricane or an exposion in a mine, at the moment that it happens, there's nothing can be done to avoid it. It's happened and now we need to deal with it.

    It's time to pick up the pieces.

    Couldn't God have prevented this? --Why do you ask? How will my answer affect what you think of God?

    God is not impotent... but we are sinful mortals unable to see the totality of what is going on. Could he have prevented it? Yes. Should he? -- why?

    Will I see my loved one in heaven? He lived a good life, he was a good man, will I see him in heaven? Why do you ask? How will my answer affect what you think of God?

    God is not capricious, but we are sinful human beings always fighting against His will.

    God's will is that all would be with him in heaven. But we are all sinners, born of sinful flesh. Not only is our world messed up, but we are cut off from heaven. ...because of sin.

    Then it's hopeless, nobody can get to heaven. What's the point?

    It's not hopeless. When our first parents sinned, God promised that He would fix the situation. He continued to be faithful in spite of our sin. The fact that sin has infected the world hasn't changed God's love for us. He created us to live in relationship with Him, a relationship that is to last forever.

    When the time was right, God fulfilled that promise made to our first parents. He sent His Son, Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ, into the world to overcome the power of sin, death and the grave.

    Christ accomplished that work!

    He was born, lived a perfect life free from sin, took our sin upon himself and took the punishment that we deserved. He died.

    On the third day, he rose from the dead proving his lordship even over death and the grave.

    For His sake, we receive the same victory over death and need never fear death.

    For His sake, heaven is opened to us in spite of our sinfulness, selfishness and pride.

    All this because He loves us.

    Those that believe this need not fear death or the grave. They need not concern themselves with what happens after the death of this body. Our sins have been forgiven... because of Christ.

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    The REAL headline in S. Korea Cloning mess

    The furor over faked research in South Korea continues. But I found this quote from the CNN article interesting:

    "I regret that I didn't stand up against the professor," MBC quoted the graduate student researcher, identified by her surname Park, as saying in an e-mail message to an acquaintance before donating eggs in 2003. Park said she was "exceedingly disgusted" with herself for having to conduct cloning experiments on her own eggs.

    The real question here is for the postmodern to explain the psychological reaction of this woman.

    As a hardened scientist in a confucian society, why did she feel "exceedingly disgusted" with performing this activity? Is there something in the Confucian thought system which would cause it? Is there something within the Korean culture which holds an egg as somehow "special"?

    Why is it "widely considered unethical" for scientists working in this field to donate their own "genetic material" to the cause?

    Of course, we know the answer is that the natural law of God is written on the human heart. These things are considered wrong because God considers them wrong. Even if the postmodern mindset tries to hide the reality of sin under the guise of a vocabulary of morality based on "personal values" rather than language that indicates morality is based on "holy virtue," the accusation of the conscience will remain.

    The real question for the Church is how to reach people "where they are," and bring them "where they need to be."

    Since the law of God is written on the human heart and felt (albeit subjectively) by every member of the human race, do we need to appeal to objective reality or the objective Law for people to come to a point of despair over their sin?

    Perhaps a better way to approach individuals in the culture is to take the example of Jesus with the woman at the well. He didn't proclaim to her "thou shalt not commit adultery" because she was fornicating. Rather, he talked in such a way that she felt convicted of the sin through her own conscience.

    In fact, he didn't preach the "Mosaic Law" anywhere except to those who already claimed to know it and follow it.

    Even in the Sermon on the Mount, He said, "You have heard it said... now I tell you..." Yes, he intensified the meaning of the Mosaic Law, but it was an intensification that was intended to explicate that law and how it portrayed God's will, not (primarily) to condemn the hearers. The condemnation occurred, of course, because people heard the echo of their own conscience, the law written on their heart.

    Much like when you tap one tuning fork and hold it next to another of the same pitch, the other vibrates too. The perfect law of God as revealed in Scripture resonates with the law of God as written on our hearts. We must find those points at which it resonates most strongly and begin there.

    Thus, we can use our knowledge of the Law as it is "correctly portrayed" in scripture to intensify the accusing conscience to bring others into a recognition of their sinful condition and their need for salvation. However, it is ultimately unnecessary (and, in most cases, exceedingly unhelpful) to attempt to scripturally "prove" why they should feel sinful.

    What I'm proposing is find the person where he or she is, work within their "view of reality" as much as possible, recognizing those things which correctly correspond to what is objectively true as revealed from Scripture and attempting to re-orient the person where their "view" and reality don't match up. This can be accomplished by showing them the inconsistencies within their own view and providing a recommendation for making their view more consistent -- recommendations which are informed by Scripture, but not necessarily overtly so in the conversation. This avoids the primary pitfall of overtly "imposing" our view on others.

    Once we find agreed upon reference points in each world view, the conversation can begin to expand naturally to clarify the rest of the view.

    In the process of disillusionment brought on by the collapse of their view of the world, the other person is often brought to despair in the realization that their sinful condition cannot be remedied by their own effort. This is time to bring them the sweetness of the Gospel as it applies to them directly.

    The Gospel that what they're feeling is actually a "good thing" because it means that they now see the world as it is -- broken and in need of a savior. The Gospel that God, in His mercy and grace provided that Savior in the person of Jesus Christ. That because of Jesus Christ, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, creation has been reconciled to God and our guilt is removed. And we must all admit, that is Good News!

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    Right or Wrong - You Decide - Priest forced off Miss Universe panel

    The panel deciding who will be the Norweigan contestant for the Miss Universe pagent is now missing a judge.

    The Church of Norway has forced a priest to resign from a panel set to judge bikini-clad women competing to be the country's Miss Universe contestant.

    I can't say I would agree that a church leader should be a panelist in such a contest. Ultimately, I agree with the position of the Church of Oslo when they said:

    church members said on Friday that as a clergyman he always represented the Church

    And I can't see Jesus on such a panel. But I'm more curious about whether they came to this conclusion for the right reasons.

    "The Church should preach that we are all equal and this competition's view of woman is particularly disturbing." [Arne Groeningsaeter, head of the Oslo diocese counci]

    Now, I know, the Norweigan church isn't likely the place we'd expect to be the arbiter of what the church should and should not preach, but I find the reasoning shows how far many who claim to be "Church" have strayed from standing up for the truth of Scripture.

    The questions I have... Should the church preach that "we're all equal"? In what sense yes, in what sense no? Was this the correct reasoning for pressuring Gelius to resign from the panel, or is there a better one?

    To be fair, as pointed out in a response to my recent discussion on Rick Warren, the news media will tend to "sanitize" what is said about a situation and avoid getting involved in theological matters. But that raises another question, to what extent (and in what ways) should we "manage" our contact with the media to make sure we are properly quoted and our real viewpoint is portrayed?

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    Why do we need liturgy? [Updated]

    I think this article is an excellent illustration of why we need liturgy and why the liturgy should be firmly founded upon God's word -- as is the case of the ancient rites of the church.

    At least 345 Muslim pilgrims have been killed in a crush in the stone-throwing ritual during the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, officials say.


    One may ask, "What does this have to do with liturgy? People don't die in stampedes in our church services."


    What about the songs that everybody loves to sing that are not doctrinally sound, for example -- injecting a synergistic understanding of salvation? Or, what of the unprepared preacher who uses words and phrases which are confusing and turn the Gospel into Law? These are easily stumbling stones for some in the congregation. Then, one member, stumbling into doctrinal error shares their understanding with others... causing them to stumble as well.

    If those who were hurling stones had kept in orderly lines and took turns at aiming and throwing their stones... 345 people would be alive today that aren't. And, if orderly lines were established when the tradition started, however long ago it was, the rock and paths would be well worn, making it easy to maintain the orderly lines today and assist those who might trip over something in the path.

    Even the best preacher occasionally fails to clearly articulate the truth of scripture in such a way that the all of his hearers understand exactly what is meant. And many of the "favorite hymns" used in our congregations can be misinterpreted to mean something that is not dogmatically correct. The liturgy provides a time tested corrective to the failings of individual songs or the occasional bad sermon. It supplies structure so that whatever might be doctrinally ambiguous is clarified in the context of the service.

    One wonders how many souls are jeopardized by excess baggage in the road when people are not guided by the well worn paths of the historical church in her liturgy.

    One wonders how much stronger and more vibrant the Church would be today if our churches maintained a strong liturgical connection, that takes care to proclaim the the Word of God in fullness and purity.

    The forms and rites of the liturgy have been passed down from previous generations who took great pains to create and refine "well worn paths" of order and structure to make sure that when a person stumbles on the path, they aren't trampled by the confusion and chaos around them, but are put back on the path and stood upright by the sound words of Scripture.

    Update 1/13/06 10:45am
    This article contains a couple of other pieces of information which extend the analogy discussed above.

    Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz, as well as the kingdom's interior minister, said the tragedy was caused by pilgrims defying rules by taking their belongings with them and ignoring advice to perform the ritual throughout the day.

    This could be compared to the pastor, "worship committee," "praise team," or whomever is in charge of developing the Sunday order and injecting their own thoughts and ideas as to what would be useful rather than sticking to the time-tested simplicity of the Scriptural formulations. What is applicable to the sermon applies also to the sound words of the liturgy.

    Many pilgrims insisted on following Prophet Mohammad's example of stoning after noon prayers instead of staggering the ritual throughout the day as some clerics recommended.

    Of course, failure to examine the rites and being overly dogmatic about things which are adiaphora are just as dangerous as being too unstructured. We must admit that there must be flexibility and an ability to augment or change. But any changes should be carefully considered along with their ramifications to the souls we serve. They should not be instituted lightly and without due care.

    "People insist that they want to finish their Hajj in the way they think is right and you have a limited effect in using policemen to control people in this regard," he said.

    Catechesis in the meaning of the liturgy is important. It is certain that people must consider church relevent and the service should be considered relevent as well. But we accomplish this best by explaining how the liturgy is relevent, not by letting peoples feelings (fleeting as they are) dictate what happens. In my opinion, from a parishoner's point of view, there is little difference between having no liturgy and having a liturgy that is foreign to me and devoid of meaning. Relevence occurs with patient and careful instruction with a goal toward understanding.

    Perhaps the overall thrust of my argument can be summarized best by Professor Suleiman, the director of the Institute for the Study of the Arab World and Islam:

    "Unfortunately, as in this instance, people still ignore official warnings not to bring luggage to the Jamarat Bridge, which caused pilgrims to trip and led to the crush," he continued.

    "You get other people who wear flimsy flip-flops and when one comes off they bend down to try and pick it up and start shoving and that's it.

    "It only takes one or two stupid people out of a couple of million to cause a tragedy like this."

    While there may or may not be "official warnings" based on Scripture to take care to avoid bringing our own "baggage" or thoughts into the worship service, and no matter how we try, "flimsy flip-flops" of poorly worded sermons or songs will come into the service. One good reason for a well thought out liturgy is to avoid a tragedy to be caused by "one or two stupid people." Because ultimately, we all have to admit, each of us is one of those "stupid people" who are steeped in sin and imperfection.

    Technorati Tags: Liturgy Church ContemporaryWorship WorshipWars

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    Real Life sets back in

    Well.. real life has set back in. After a protracted break where I accomplished nearly none of my goals, real life is back, classes have started -- and time, as usual, runs short. Things on my blogs have slowed down and will likely become more related to classwork.

    For those of you wondering about posts from last week and the week before and trying to figure out what "standard fare" will be at this blog, my effort is to be 'heady yet practical' -- I tend to think deeply about any topic I engage, so except for the occasional brief quip related a news article, don't expect much light reading here.

    The purpose for publishing here is more interaction and to have my ideas and thinking challenged -- not to pontificate. So if (or rather when) I get too heady (or head strong), feel free to pull me back to earth with a "What does this mean?" or if you think I'm off base -- let me know.

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    And the word of the year is.....

    The AP reports [CNN] A panel of linguists has determined that the word that best reflects 2005.

    The word is "truthiness." Apparently the word was made up by Stephen Colbert.

    From an article on Media Bistro
    "Truthiness is sort of what you want to be true, as opposed to what the facts support," Mr. Colbert said in a recent interview. "Truthiness is a truth larger than the facts that would comprise it -- if you cared about facts, which you don't, if you care about truthiness."


    While Mr. Colbert intended that the word be used in a derrogatory way against cable news commentators, it seems a reasonable word to describe how most of us view the world.

    Rather than look at the objective facts in Scripture about the reality of the world, we look at things as we want them to be.

    We want to be the masters of the universe instead of realizing that the Creator of the Universe is its master. When we realize the futility of this, we try to bargain with God and accept him on our terms instead of as his. When this doesn't work, we seek to make God irrelavent and ignore him entirely; instead, seeking to worship creation instead of the Creator.

    We watch specials like PBS Special about the three major "faiths" of the world and Barbara Waltars about heaven. These substitute the "truthiness" that all religions lead to the same place instead of proclaming the fact that God has re-established a relationship with us through one means. A relationship that we broke by attempting to assert ourselves and "be like God."

    We continue to "be like God" and probe the mysteries of the universe while avoiding any mention of Him through the "sciences" of Intelligent Design and evolution .

    And then we have people trying to outright deny the historical truth of God's love for us by attempting to destroy those who speak the truth about the universe.

    In all of these cases, the reality of the universe is obscured -- along with the Gospel. The reality that we live in a world that is corrupt because of sin. That corruption brought death and destruction to the world. It is because of that corruption that the world seems disfunctional, unfair, and imperfect. But in spite of all we have done, in our sinful condition, to destroy God's creation, He didn't give up on us and start over, He still actively upholds and preserves that original creation and even undertook to restore the relationship with us in spite of our sinful condition.

    We "get" to heaven only one way, through Jesus Christ - not Mohammed, not by following Torah. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the one and only mediator between God and man. No one come to the Father except by Him.

    This grace is a gift. Through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ God has reconciled us to himself. Because of Christ, we can approach God as His beloved children -- as He created us to be.

    We needn't live in the "truthiness" of our deluded sinful selves any longer. God has revealed Himself to us in the most real way possible. He came, lived among us, took our infirmities, our sin upon himself. He died in our place. To prove that this was sufficient, he rose to life again on the third day. That is the TRUTH of the universe.

    My prayer is that God would make that truth known to all mankind and through this, they would be brought out of their delusions of what is "truthy" into the real truth of Christ.

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    Free Booze Helps Homeless Drunks

    Ok, after that last post, I can be a pietist again...

    Somehow, this story on CNN's site doesn't sit well with me.

    "Once we give a 'small amount' of alcohol and stabilize the addiction, we are able to provide health services that lead to a reduction in the unnecessary health services they were getting before," said Dr. Jeff Turnbull, one of the authors of the report.

    That "small amount" is 15 glasses a day. One glass an hour from 7am-10pm.

    I can see doing this to "stabilize" these people initially. But the way the article reads, there is no concern for dealing with the alcohol adiction even in the long run. That's the part that makes me cringe. Sure, it get's the crime down and keeps the medical bills for these people down, but it doesn't really help THEM.

    Of course, this is only the type of "love" that "the state" (or any "institution" for that matter) can give -- what ever is least costly for the institution becomes "loving."

    Praise God that in Christ, God loves us better than that. Jesus died to give us the ultimate freedom -- even freedom from our addiction to sin. While we won't attain this freedom in our sojourn through this fallen creation, it is a freedom He has won for us and a freedom we will enjoy in full in the new creation.

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    Sanctification - the REAL deal.

    Since approximately the time that I decided to go back to school, finish my Bachelors and go on to seminary, I've been trying to understand what "sanctification" is about. That was about the same time that Rick Warren's "PURPOSE" drivel became a big deal in my area as well.

    At first it was a quest to write a book that addressed the issue of Sanctification from a Lutheran perspective.

    I had only 1 semester (20 credits) to complete to get my BA, and for a portion of that I had to do a "project." I used my interest in this topic as the basis for that project. I read over 4000 pages -- Luther's Galatians commentary, all but Volume V of "Sermons of Martin Luther," numerous Concordia Theological Monthly and CTQ articles, Weingren's "Luther on Vocation" (man I hate that book), J.M. Reu's Ethics... and a bunch of other stuff -- all during that Semester. I have a bound 200 page annotated bibliography with citations.

    It all finally came together tonight during my involvement in the debate on sanctification that recently made the rounds.

    I think I finally "get it."


    I turned my project in about 13 months ago. I've been thinking about the topic for around 18 months. But I think all the pieces finally fit together.

    Here is my latest post in that debate. Perhaps someone out there can tell me I'm all wet or on the right track in my thinking... anyway --- have at it.

    dm42 said...


    "if the music offends me, as a christian, are you still free to continue listening? am i offended by it without cause?"

    Yes, I am free. I may be being unloving if I flaunt that freedom by continuing to offend you. By being unloving I would be exhibiting a contempt for Christ for whose sake I should love everybody - even those offended without cause. By showing contempt for Christ I jeopardize my salvation.

    Note carefully, however, there are a lot of steps between listening to the music and jeopardizing salvation. It is not the listening itself which jeopardizes it. It isn't even the unloving attitude shown by listening in spite of the offence to the neighbor. It is that in maintaining that unloving attitude, contempt is shown for Christ because the love that Christ has for that neigbor is mocked.

    Whether you are offended with or without cause is ultimately irrelavent.

    However, my freedom remains.

    "are we not bound to please god with our behavior, knowing we fall short, of course, but bound nonetheless?"

    We are bound by the Law of Love to do everything that we can in this life to befriend and help our neighbor. In terms of "pleasing God with our behavior," everyone is bound by that -- Christian and non-christian alike. We are creatures, He is the creator. We must obey Him because He is the Lord of the Universe.

    The problem is, because of the fall and the sin which has so currupted our being, there is NO WAY that we can. EVERYTHING we do is as filthy rags in God's sight.

    There is no action we can perform that can "please God." "simmul iustus et pecator". We are fully sinner, yes, even the Boy Scout who helps grandma across the street is sinning in doing so. Yes, even the converted Christian is FULLY sinner, even as for Christ's sake he is FULLY saint.

    The fact is that the only way we are acceptable "Coram Deo" is through Christ. None and I mean NONE of our actions are acceptable "Coram Deo" until they are sanctified by Christ. Through His sacrifice and His perfect life, he takes the filthy rags and makes them white as snow.

    I am "bound" by the Love of Christ to love my neighbor but this is not a Law of Love.

    Because Christ loves my neighbor and I love Christ, I am bound to love my neighbor. Christ, by His death made my neighbor worth loving because by that death, He -- the Son of God and Creator of the Universe -- declared my neighbor worth loving -- worth dying for.

    If I do not love my neigbor, I call Christ a liar.

    I am not bound by any law, rule, command, etc. to love my neighbor, but I am bound to love my neighbor for the sake of Christ. We love because He first loved us.

    Not this "namby pamby" -- "He fills me with love so I can love others" junk that we hear... but because HE has declared the neighbor worth loving.

    It then becomes not MY love being shown toward the neighbor -- for my love means NOTHING. Rather, it is an extension of Christ's love for the neighbor. I become Christ's instrument to show His love to my neighbor.

    THAT is the sanctified, Christian life.

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    Did Jesus Exist?

    I thought the world was messed up enough, apparently I was wrong.

    Apparently, an Italian court case is in process which will decide whether or not the Roman Catholic Church is breaking the law by teaching that Jesus existed.

    [Read on for more]

    From the article:

    I started this lawsuit because I wanted to deal the final blow against the Church, the bearer of obscurantism and regression.

    Luigi Cascioli, who brought the suit, has a web site [english version] which includes the original complaint in English.

    Even Cascioli admits, "It would take a miracle to win," according to the article.

    This would be absurd, except the web site has a significant amount of information on it. The whole idea of a case like this prompts a number of questions. The most important of which is, what (if anything) should we do to prepare to give an answer when the media wave hits our shores? Followed very closely by what will the fallout be if Cascioli wins?

    Our faith is built on the historical reality of Christ. Paul himself appealed to the historical reality of the resurrection.

    I know, ultimately the court can't decide historical truth but that's not really the point. Our religion is an historic religion. It's based on historical facts -- provable facts. We "believe, teach, and confess," the historical reality of the incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ. We already have problems with the resurrection part, that started immediately after it happened. Now it appears even the historical reality of the incarnation and death of Christ are in question.

    If he was not born and did not live, he could not have died. If he didn't die, justification is a non-starter. Not to mention that the resurrection is an impossibility as well.

    We could sluff it all off and say, "I take it on faith," but that seems to betray something characteristic about Christianity-- Namely, the historical reality of Jesus himself.

    Perhaps the historical apologists like Josh McDowell and Lee Strobel might have a place at the table after all.

    So, how about it, will the existence or outcome of this suit have any real impact on the church? Why or why not?

    UPDATE: More news links:
    Times Online


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    Book Review: "Just Words" by JAO Preus

    Read my review of JAO Preus' book Just Words on Learning Greek.

    I've decided to use my "Learning Greek" site as a repository for my work in linguistics, hermeneutics, etc..

    I still plan to be active here with other topics, most notably engaging the culture and making sense of the world by interpreting them from a Christian world-view. (ooh.. sounds postmodern...) Generally less "heady" and "technical" things.

    Comments are always welcome at either site.

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    Computers & Technology

    I've been "into" computers for about 23 years -- ever since my parents got me a Commodore Vic 20 (C=20). Those who know me know that I'm a big fan of GNU and Open Source software, I run GNU-Linux using the GENTOO distribution. I even have written and released for public consumption and modification a project on SourceForge under the GPL.

    However, I also realize that most haven't come from the inner sanctum of the computer realm and just want things to "work." I can respect that. But I can assure you you will be hearing more and more about FREE and OPEN SOURCE software as time goes on.

    An EXCELLENT primer on the differences/similarities between "Free" and "Open Source" software is available at Confessing Evangelical.

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    Then when you try to bring kids up right -- THIS happens!

    Apparently tonight is "bringing up kids" night.

    A soccer team and middle-aged swingers should not have been booked [at the same hotel] together.

    From the article:

    Paul Camporini brought his wife, seventh-grade daughter and eighth-grade son from Safety Harbor and said he had to "delicately explain to my Catholic school children that swingers change partners during the evening."

    Apparently when we're not neglecting our own kids and screwing them up, the world will help us along.

    The "unholy trinity" (the devil, the world, and our flesh) surely do make it difficult to live and do the right thing.

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    Bored Youths: We were going to have a baby Jesus burning party

    Now, someone tell me that Satan had no hand in this.

    SAYREVILLE, N.J. -- Four teens stole 27 baby Jesus statues from nativity scenes outside churches and homes and planned to burn them, police said.

    Of course, one parent said:

    Although Chris is sometimes misguided, this was not something we expected out of him.

    And another:

    Michael has been hanging around with the wrong people. He goes to college. He's an outstanding young kid.

    Don't get me wrong. Bringing up kids isn't easy and you can't watch them every minute. And it's true, "Kids will be kids." But when kids are stealing other peoples property with a goal to it's destruction because they're "bored," one really does have to wonder where the parents are.

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    Daring to tread....

    There is a good discussion going on in cyberspace right now that has gotten ugly. John13-27 has a post on What You do, Do Quickly that attempts to refocus the discussion. The comments, unfortunately, quickly degenerate into turf protection.

    Those who are members of the community in which this is playing out are concerned for all involved. Like most storms, it will likely blow over eventually and hopefully everyone can emerge (bruised perhaps, but not permanently damaged) reasonably "friends" again.

    In the mean time, the underlying discussion regarding sanctification and living the "Christian Life" is an important one. So let's delve in, shall we?

    To set the stage, there are two positions in this debate.

    One side posits that listening to lewd and crude artists such as Eminem is a sin[1].
    The other side posits that Christian Freedom permits such listening because of God's Grace in Christ[2].

    To guide our discussion, let us examine St. Paul's comments to the Corinthians

    We will begin with I Corinthians 6:12-14
    (12) "Everything is permissible for me"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"—but I will not be mastered by anything. (13) "Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"—but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. (14) By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.

    and I Corinthians 10:22ff.

    (23) "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is constructive. (24) Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.

    It is clear that St. Paul concurs with those who say everything is permissible, but he cautions that "permissible" does not equate with "good." Those that assert the "permissibility" of listening to lewd music have St. Paul on their side. The fact is that because of our redemption by Christ, everything is permissible. Nothing ought bind our conscience, we have been redeemed.

    However, St. Paul is no "antinomian" with no respect for the sanctified life. After concurring with those who say, "Everything is permissible," (that is, nothing ought bind my conscience,) he immediately reigns in the flesh with, "but not everything is beneficial," and, "but I will not be mastered by anything," and, "but not everything is constructive," and finally with, "Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others."

    To those who would use, "Everything is permissible," to permit themselves to engage in all kinds of behavior that is clearly "conduct unbecoming a Christian," they would do well to remember I Cor. 6:19-20, "You are not your own; you were bought at a price." It is not whether or not listening to Eminem "hurts" your neighbor that should be the stick by which you measure, but whether or not it "helps" your neighbor (and helping Eminem support his drug habit or the record executives prosecute unsuspecting grandmothers is not really "helping" your neighbor -- but I digress).

    Do you listen to such music because you "like it?" Then it is probably sinful. Ultimately, you are simply satisfying the desires of the self and the flesh. In the process, you are intentionally allowing your mind to be filled with images and thoughts which are foreign, even antithetical, to a Biblical understanding of the world. This is not to say that everything you "like" is sinful but that you must examine your motivations for doing something you "like" much more carefully than what you don't like.

    Do you listen to it because you know several teenage members of your congregation who listen to it; so to better understand and communicate with them you are involving yourself in their culture? Then it probably is not sin (and you probably don't "like it"). [But be careful not to be entrapped by that culture yourself.]

    Perhaps an appropriate quote from our beloved Dr. Luther will help:

    When these two topics, the Law and the Gospel are separated this way, both will remain within their limits. The Law will remain outside heaven, that is, outside the heart and the conscience; and, on the other hand, the freedom of the Gospel will remain outside the earth, that is outside the body and its members. And just as soon as the Law and sin come into heaven, that is, into the conscience, they should promptly be ejected. For then the conscience should know nothing about the Law and sin but should know only about Christ. On the other hand, when grace and freedom come into the earth, that is, into the body, you must say: "You have no business here among the dirt and filth of this physical life. You belong in heaven!"[3]

    Therefore, to those who would bind consciences by saying it is a "sin" to listen to certain supposed artists, it should be noted that you are placing the Law in heaven where it has no place.

    And -- To those who would absolve themselves from sin and free their body to fulfill the desires of the flesh, it should be said, "You are not your own; (20) you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." That is, your whole body, "eyes, ears, and all [your] members, [your] reason and all [your] senses" which God created, redeemed and still preserves.

    St. Paul said, "Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others." That is, love God and serve your neighbor. When you recognize that you have utterly failed in these things, then you can appeal to the Gospel... but not before.

    [1]Reference: Rev. McCain's Blog, Cyberbretheren posts Aversion to Sanctification, Walk in Love, as Christ Loved Us, and What's Wrong With Listening to Lewd Lyrics? (Back to article)
    [2]Reference: comment in post Single Cure on the blog What You Do Do Quickly
    UPDATE (1/5/2005 9:30P): The statement as it reads above is not completely accurate. The second party in the debate listens to selective tracks of Eminem and never said it was "permissible because of God's Grace in Christ."

    The statement as it appears is best taken as what the first party believes the second party to be saying. It is retained in this article for continuity.
    (Back to article)
    [3]Reference: AE 26, p 116. (Back to article)

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    At least one commentator gets it...

    In the Intelligent Design debate, my basic premise has been that evolution and intelligent design are equally religious. It's just that the mainstream scientific establishment has labeled one "science" and the other "not."

    I ran across this commentary by Pat Buchanan. Apparently, he gets it.

    He concludes by saying:

    Where science says, "No miracles allowed," Darwinism asks us to believe in miracles.

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    PBS Does it again - Three Religions, One God

    According to a new documentary by PBS, Christianity, Judaism, Islam are all essentially the same religion.

    Documentary ties together 'Three Faiths, One God'

    For starters, Jews, Christians and Muslims have "remarkably similar notions of the divine," says Karen Armstrong, author of "A History of God." Armstrong delves into those similarities, as do almost three dozen other experts, from Harvard, Yale and other universities and organizations such as the Progressive Muslim Union of North America, the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance and the Church of England.

    Everyone prays; the only difference is whether the faithful are summoned to do so by a bell, a horn, a gong or a human voice. A Muslim prayer ends with the words "Peace be with you." Rabbi David Rosen, the American Jewish Committee's international director of interreligious affairs, says of the New Testament, the Torah and the Quran, "In essence, they are the same book."

    This trash continues to be spread. These three are neither the same nor even complimentary. All have distinctive features. Most notably, Christianity is based on salvation through Jesus Christ. That salvation was wrought for us and is not accomplished by us. Christ says, "No one comes to the father except by me." They do not approach God through Mohammed or by following the law of Moses. One can only approach God through the life and work of Jesus Christ who is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

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    Is this Willow Creek's next attendance booster?

    Perhaps this could be a way to gain higher attendance.
    Strip club to move next to PG church - The Washington Times

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    Author Recommendation

    He's not a Confessional Lutheran, but that doesn't mean he has nothing to say. I heard David Fitch pitching his book on a Detroit Radio Station today.

    He had a lot of good things to say in the interview. His Blog has some interesting things to say as well.

    I'm interested in reading his book as well.

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    Will Intelligent Design Win?

    I can't agree at all with Nancy Pearcye's article Why Intelligent Design will Win. Her final reason is the downfall of her entire argument:
    Which suggests the final reason ID will win--because it accords with the ideals of a free and open society. In our pluralistic age, schools should train students in critical thinking to prepare them to engage respectfully and intelligently with a wide range of worldviews, both religious and secular. Yet under current rules, public schools may present evidence for scientific theories that imply a strictly materialistic or secular worldview, while they are not allowed to present evidence for scientific theories that imply a non-materialistic or religious worldview (though the latter may be mocked and ridiculed, as the KU course proves).

    The reality is that Intelligent Design will not "win" so long as the scientific community is more interested in overt atheism than they are academic honesty. If the scientific community were truly interested in seeking the truths of the universe, they would seek where evidence leads. However, they are deluded by their "naturalistic" presuppositions.

    The truth is that the scientific community has constructed an alternate universe that operates on its own rules. Since the courts will always concede that the scientific community can define what is and is not science, Intelligent Design will never get past "go" in any court. It is no longer about "science" it is now about "religion."

    The religion of the scientific community is institutionalized atheism. This can be seen in the National Academy of Sciences publications especially as they relate to evolution.

    The fact is that evolutionary science is no less "religious" in its faith based character than is creationism. Neither can be definitively proven and are built upon presuppositions which are taken by faith. Evolution takes it on faith that the "natural world" operates by a process of slow changes with all existing forms built upon forms of the past. This is a religious presupposition. The fact that it does not command a belief in a metaphysical reality doesn't negate that.

    The scientific world can define what "science" is and isn't -- and that's fair. But let's not allow them to define what religion is and is not.

    The Christian world view posits that "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." That is, there is ONE reality, ONE truth. God is the creator and author of both. Some 10,000 "Christian" Clergy have allowed themselves to be deluded into believing there are two truths, one spiritual, the other physical.

    Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is ONE Lord!

    Thanks to Dr. Veith for pointing out the article.

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