First Person Life


J.M. Reu's "Homiletics" Textbook Now Available!

I've made my favorite homiletics textbook available. It's title is Homiletics: A Manual of the Theory and Practice of Preaching by J.M. Reu D.D. of Wartburg Seminary. The publication is a reprint of images taken from a 1922 first edition. There are three versions available. Hard Cover ($33.22), Paperback ($23.74) and a "Coursepack" ($14.77). Descriptions of each are available as well as a PDF file which contains a preview of the introduction.

The introductory pricing shown here will be available for at least two weeks.

The hardcover and paperback editions maintain the pagination of the original (nearly 650 pages total) and have been scaled to be slightly larger making the print easier to read. The "coursepack" edition is printed two pages of the original book per page of the reprint, like when you had books reproduced in a college coursepack.

Fulfillment is Print On Demand, meaning when you order a copy, it gets printed. I have no pre-printed inventory. There are bulk discounts available for orders over 26 copies -- however, an even lower price can usually be negotiated if you contact me directly.

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Making Evolutionists "Go Ape"

A recent discussion I've been having regarding evolution in the classroom has wound down.

In the process of the discussion, I seemed to have worked a couple of zealots into a frenzy trying to defend the existence of evolution in the science curriculum of our public schools. The argument is simple and has been stated before on this site.

Below is a repost of my latest comment. There are two definitions under discussion. Both are definitions that have been formulated by the National Academy of Sciences in their materials for the National Science Education Standards that they are trying to get every state to use as the basis of their science curriculums in the public schools.

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These are the two definitions:

(1) Science: "Science is a particular way of knowing about the world. In science, explanations are restricted to those that can be inferred from confirmable data - the results obtained through observation and experiments that can be substantiated by other scientists. Anything that can be observed or measured is amenable to scientific investigation. Explanations that cannot be based on empirical evidence ARE NOT PART OF SCIENCE" (emphasis mine - quoted from: Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science, by the National Academy of Sciences, page 27).

(2) Evolution: Evolution is a series of changes, some gradual and some sporadic, that accounts for the present form and function of objects, organisms, and natural and designed systems. The general idea of evolution is that the present arises from materials and forms of the past. Although evolution is most commonly associated with the biological theory explaining the process of descent with modification of organisms from common ancestors, evolution also describes changes in the universe. (quoted from: National Science Education Standards, National Committee on Science Education Standards and Assessment, National Research Council, p.119 (available at:

These two definitions interact in such a way that evolution is either declared unscientific or is based on a religious presupposition about the eternal existence of matter. Either way, the result is that it has no place in the science curriculum of our public schools.

You can read the whole discussion on First Person Life (Posts: But Isn't Science Unbiased?, and Faith in Science. See also: the December 2005 and January 2006 Archives for my discussion of the Kitzmiller v. Dover decision)as well as Axinar's (Posts: Science and Religion, The Thumpers are Attacking, And God Said, "Let there be cow.", Finding Our Boy Tiktaalik Roseae In Genesis, And Stir, and Separation of Education and State) .

You'll see we ran the gambit in the discussion, but I think I've finally got the underlying issue stated clearly.

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"Evolution is change" and that change "accounts for" the present form of everything we see around us. Furthermore, "evolution also describes changes in the universe."

While we can quibble about shades of meaning, the fact is that under this definition evolution says "there was a previous form yesterday" and "there is a new form today." "Hopeful monsters" are not excluded because of the "sporadic" nature of some of the changes.

One may argue that the Big Bang could be classified as a "sporadic change"... however, from what I understand, all of the laws governing the behavior of matter were fundamentally (unobservably, untestably, and therefore, "unscientifically") different in the first few microseconds of the existence of the universe under the Big Bang theory.

You are correct, the phrase, "accounts for" is a bit difficult because it does carry with it a connotation of "explains how" or "explains why." But even removing that phrase and replacing it with "describes" does not avoid the underlying presupposition that there was something there at moment N-1 which formed the bases of what is there at moment N.

"...never intended to answer the metaphysical question..."

There is no "metaphyscial" question -- and that's my point. By the definition of evolution as it is taught in our schools, things are assumed to always have changed, "sometimes gradual[ly] and sometimes sporadic[ally]."

Change, by definition, requires a preceding state and a consequent state. For each "present," there must be a "before." Otherwise, there is no "change" there is simply "was not" and "is now."

Science, by the definition I've quoted earlier, does not allow for such a statement as, "it wasn't there, now it is there." Evolution posits that what appears to have been not there before but there now is the result of a change of what was there before into what is there now.

Therefore, based on the two definitions we have been discussing, there are only two possible conclusions.

(1) Matter has eternally existed and the materials and forms of moment N-1 are the materials and building blocks for the forms of moment N. Taking N to (-infinity)+1 still means there was something at (-infinity) that changed.


(2) Evolution is unscientific according to the definition of science that is promulgated by the National Academy of Sciences and was codified into judicial precedent in the Kitzmiller case.

Statement (1) is a religious statement and is therefore (arguably) barred under the First Amendment of the Constitution for the United States of America. Statement (2) means that evolution has no place in a "science" curriculum because it does not fit the definition of "science".

Either way, evolution should not be taught in our nations public schools in the science curriculum.

I'm happy to entertain discussion regarding how this analysis is wrong, but I simply do not see any alternative except (1) and (2) above based upon the definitions we've been discussing.

If you disagree with the definitions, you disagree with the National Academy of Sciences - a group of the most prestigious scientists in the nation that advise the government on matters of science and policy. You are free to disagree with them, but I submit such disagreement would put you outside of "mainstream science."

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Wright: Right, Wrong or "muddled"?

A recent interview with Bishop Wright in an Australian newspaper has sparked a response from Pastor McCain of Cyberbretheren. In his post, Wright could not be more Wrong, Pastor McCain rightly points out that to deny the resurrection is to be an unbeliever. You cannot truly believe in Christ and deny the bodily resurrection from the dead. As St. Paul says, "If Christ has not been raised from the dead, then our faith is in vain."

I too am on my guard when it comes to Bishop Wright's work. Having spent a little time examining his understanding of Romans as part of a class last quarter, I see several dangers in his line of thinking -- especially his, "new perspective" on Paul.

But I'm not quite willing to throw Bishop Wright aside based on his comments in this article. In reading it carefully, I find that he does say some worthwhile things. This doesn't mean I think we should extend him Altar and Pulpit Fellowship, mind you, but I think we should examine what he says and at least be willing to point out our agreements and disagreements.

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I've been accused of "overreacting" in the past, perhaps this time, I'm "under-reacting"... but on closer examination of what Bishop Wright says, I think in the context of this article, we might learn a lot from his appearance in the media.

Quotes are from the article: Resurrecting faith by Jill Rowbotham.

"I have friends who I am quite sure are Christians who do not believe in the bodily resurrection," he says carefully, citing another eminent scholar, American theologian Marcus Borg, co-author with Wright of The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions.

"But the view I take of them - and they know this - is that they are very, very muddled. They would probably return the compliment."

I'm not sure Bishop Wright is taking that much of a different view than St. Paul took of the Corinthians who questioned the resurrection (Cxref I Corinthians 15:13). While I would assert that nobody ought to be preaching or teaching in the name of Christianity who does not subscribe the the Christian Creeds, this doesn't appear to me a statement that advocates a position that "It's OK to not believe in the resurrection and call yourself a Christian." Quite the contrary. Bishop Wright calls those who attempt to do so, "very, very muddled." Not a ringing endorsement by any stretch.

Bishop Wright further says of those who fail to acknowledge to bodliy resurrection:
I actually think that's a major problem and it affects most of whatever else he does, and I think that it means he has all sorts of flaws as a teacher, but I don't want to say he isn't a Christian.

Perhaps Wright doesn't want to say, "he isn't a Christian," because that's not his place. Yes, he does not profess Christianity rightly. Yes, his reason has led him astray. And, true, if one truly denies the bodily resurrection, fully understanding the ramifications of that denial, I don't see how they will be in heaven. All of these things are true -- and I don't think Bishop Wright would disagree (I don't want to speak for him, though.)

On the other hand, Bishop Wright does not exercise any sort of spiritual jurisdiction over this (these) person(s) he's talking about. Further, it would seem presumptive (and a possible breach of the eighth commandment) for Wright to assert that Mr. Borg is not a Christian. We must remember that Wright is here talking about a specific person. It is the author of the article who extrapolates this to a more global statement.

I'm more dubious when Wright talks about how the church should behave in the culture of postmodernism. His answer is summarized by the article's author as:

The detail is reduced to the notion that actions speak louder than words and the best proselytising is done when non-Christians are so struck by the example of a believer's life that they ask what makes them so different.

Wright goes on to say:

"The church has it the other way around. It has tended to say: 'We must say it, say it, say it as clearly as possible and if there is any energy left over, we'll do a bit of it as well.'"

My quick response is, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." (Rom. 10:17) Whether you take "the Word of God" to be proclaimation of the Scriptures or a proclaimation of Christ crucified and risen is irrelavent since the Scriptures simply testify about Christ.

I disagree with Wright that, "Jesus was going around 'doing the kingdom.'" While true, it is only true to a point. Jesus also said, "My kingdom is not of this world." So this must somehow be reconciled with, "doing the kingdom." His activity on earth was a moral example, that was not his purpose on earth. His purpose was as atoning sacrifice. He did not, "provide a way for the world to be saved," He actually saved the world. That was the message he came to proclaim. His miracles were testimony to his work of salvation, not simply works to be emulated. Unfortunately, the hardness of the human heart rejects that salvation and so many will not partake of the salvation won by Christ.

However, the generalized critique that as the Body of Christ, the Christian Church is often too self-centered and lacks outward expression of their faith is not wholly without merit. It is misdirected and easily misunderstood, but not completely wrong. Further amplification on this point will need to wait for another post when I get all my thoughts together.

Overall, writing off Wright as wrong based on this article seems a bit harsh. Given the medium, I would say he articulated the truth of Christ's bodily resurrection unambiguously. That doesn't mean that it can't somehow be misunderstood or misinterpreted, but those wishing to do such things probably wouldn't listen no matter how much clearer he could have been.

I think this article shows that (at least in Australia) the media will print the truth about Christianity. It's true, in this country it is harder to get stuff like thie printed, but I'm not sure it's impossible. I'm toward the top of the list when it comes to seeing institutional bias against the historic truths of Christianity in the media, so I have to give kudos to Bishop Wright for seizing an opportunity to at least proclaim one truth foundational to our faith...

Now, if we could convert him from his intrinsic calvinist/reformed covenantal roots, perhaps altar and pulpit fellowship will follow of their own accord...

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Faith in Science

I recently found myself needing to respond to the "dinosaurs aren't referenced in the Bible, so science and Scripture are incompatible" argument (see comments to:But Isn't Science Unbiased?). Here's my response (it became too long to be a comment -- and blogger wouldn't let me format it the way I wanted as a comment).

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but, you know what, there are bones of "lizards as big as a house" all over this planet. Yes, there are things that are hard to infer about them, but, they were here, they laid eggs, they're not here any more, and the ancient Hebrews knew nothing about them ...

This is a false argument. There are a couple of reasons there is a limited amount of information about dinosaurs in Scripture (I'll get to what is there later).

First, the Scriptures show us the nature of mankind. Namely, we are sinners. "Sin is the revolt of mans will against the will of God, a revolt of the creature against the Creator, a revolt of man's selfishness against God's holy love." (J.M. Reu - Faith and Life, 1935).

While revealing sin is one of the purposes of Scripture, its highest purpose is to show us how God has answered the problem of sin. Namely, He sent His Son to be born, suffer and die. Jesus Christ was not simply a "hero" in the Christian religion, He is God himself who took on human flesh and "dwelt among us" (John 1). He suffered the punishment that every man, woman and child who has lived, does live, or will live deserves for their willful revolt against God. And after His death, He rose again to life, proving that he had fully accomplished that work and mankind now stands in a right relationship to God. This is the core of the Scriptures -- and thereby the core of the Christian faith.

These two things, knowledge of our sinful condition and God's work to restore us to fellowship with Him are the purposes of Scripture. In that narrative, there is little need to reference the minute details of the other creatures that God created on the earth. Scriptures are not intended to be a science textbook. They have a specific purpose -- to tell us of Jesus.

On the other hand, Scriptures do contain a lot of information about the world that God created because they contain factual accounts of that world in history. Unfortunately, the scientific method didn't exist during the writing of the Old and New Testaments, so like the ancient "dragon" stories, we have to be careful how much "science" we do with them.

But to counter your statement that the "ancient Hebrews knew nothing about them," I offer the following biblical evidence for both dinosaurs as well as very large sea creatures and creatures that sound very much like "dragons" (fire breathing and all). Here's an excerpt from Job chapters 40 and 41:

Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox. Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly. He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together. His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron. He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him . Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play. He lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens. The shady trees cover him with their shadow; the willows of the brook compass him about. Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth. He taketh it with his eyes: his nose pierceth through snares. (Job 40:15-24 KJV)

Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down? Canst thou put an hook into his nose? or bore his jaw through with a thorn? Will he make many supplications unto thee? will he speak soft words unto thee? Will he make a covenant with thee? wilt thou take him for a servant for ever? Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens? Shall the companions make a banquet of him? shall they part him among the merchants? Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons? or his head with fish spears? Lay thine hand upon him, remember the battle, do no more. Behold, the hope of him is in vain: shall not one be cast down even at the sight of him? None is so fierce that dare stir him up: who then is able to stand before me? Who hath prevented me, that I should repay him? whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine. I will not conceal his parts, nor his power, nor his comely proportion. Who can discover the face of his garment? or who can come to him with his double bridle? Who can open the doors of his face? his teeth are terrible round about. His scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close seal. One is so near to another, that no air can come between them. They are joined one to another, they stick together, that they cannot be sundered. By his neesings a light doth shine, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning. Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out. Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or caldron. His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth. In his neck remaineth strength, and sorrow is turned into joy before him. The flakes of his flesh are joined together: they are firm in themselves; they cannot be moved. His heart is as firm as a stone; yea, as hard as a piece of the nether millstone . When he raiseth up himself, the mighty are afraid: by reason of breakings they purify themselves. The sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold: the spear, the dart, nor the habergeon. He esteemeth iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood. The arrow cannot make him flee: slingstones are turned with him into stubble. Darts are counted as stubble: he laugheth at the shaking of a spear. Sharp stones are under him: he spreadeth sharp pointed things upon the mire. He maketh the deep to boil like a pot: he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment. He maketh a path to shine after him; one would think the deep to be hoary. Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear. He beholdeth all high things : he is a king over all the children of pride. (Job 41 - KJV)

There's also Psalm 74:13-14 (KJV):
Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength: thou brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters. Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness.

[My apologies for the stiff KJV, but it's public domain and I won't get sued for using it.]

Then there is other literature, like Enoch 12:1:
And I looked and saw other flying elements of the sun, whose names (are) Phoenixes and Chalkydri, marvellous and wonderful, with feet and tails in the form of a lion, and a crocodile’s head

[NOTE: Enoch is not considered "Scripture" by most Christians because it has a questionable textual tradition (i.e. we don't really know who wrote it or when) and it doesn't much treat the main theme of Scripture -- namely the salvation of mankind.]

So, to say, "the ancient Hebrews knew nothing about them," is (dare I say it), "unscientific". Looking to the observations recorded by ancient writers of the Hebrew Scriptures, we see evidence of very large, fire-breathing creatures roaming the earth. Now, THERE'S science by observation!

I'm not arguing, like many misguided fundamentalist bible-thumpers, that science and scripture are completely incompatible. I am saying that science should stick with what it's good at - making observations and inferences based upon those observations. Until they create a time-machine and go back 4.5 billion years to watch the universe explode in the big-bang, I'm under no obligation to believe that it's true.

Furthermore, until they observe transitions between discernable "kinds" of creatures, there is nothing but faith in a fancy story about how it might have happened. At this point it becomes two faith systems arguing against each other -- what is that but two different religions arguing against each other?

That is why I have concluded that "walking fish," "big bang," "evolution," and a plethora of other creative stories are not scientific (according the the National Academy of Science's own definition, mind you). Science needs to stick to observation and inference based upon observation. As the judge in the Kitzmiller decision said:

NAS is in agreement that science is limited to empirical, observable and ultimately testable data: Science is a particular way of knowing about the world. In science, explanations are restricted to those that can be inferred from the confirmable data the results obtained through observations and experiments that can be substantiated by other scientists. Anything that can be observed or measured is amenable to scientific investigation. Explanations that cannot be based upon empirical evidence are not part of science. (emphasis mine)

Let's stick to that definition of Science and all of these arguments between "faith and Science" disappear. In addition millions (if not billions) of dollars in research money will be freed up to fight disease, pollution, and other problems that affect the world now rather than chasing after E.T. with ham radios or trying to figure out where we came from.

From a scientific vantage point, why does it really matter where we came from anyway? We're here now, we have problems now, let's use research money on those... leave the rest of it to the theologians and philosophers to argue about.

For more information about the Christian Faith and Dinosaurs, I recommend Genesis and the Dinosaur by Erich A. von Fange, Ph.D. It's apparently out of print right now, but that may change soon.

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But isn't science unbiased?

More evidence that the scientific establishment doesn't like criticism of it's pet theories and ideas can be found in this recent op-ed piece from the Wall Street Journal regarding Global Warming... It appears that the libel and slander in calling Intelligent Design a "non-science" extends to anyone not towing the party line within the ranks of the accepted scientific community. I suppose if the National Academy of Science thought that the earth was flat and Galileo showed up to prove them wrong, they'd have him declared a heretic...

What does this mean? (a good Lutheran question) - basically - for all it's pretense to the contrary, the institutions of science do have an agenda and they will actively work to quash anything that doesn't fit in with that agenda. This makes them more religious cultists than objective scientists... but that doesn't seem to bother them. As long as they don't invoke "God" in their analysis, they are non-religious (in their minds). To some extent, I agree, but ultimately I'd have to say that it simply makes them irreligious-zealots.

So fallen human nature proves itself stupid again -- unable to question it's own assumptions. It's sad really, because science has historically been such a benefit to humanity --- then again, most of that progress came when (in general) scientists recognized that there was order in the universe and attributed it to the One who spoke the universe into existence. Now science is less interested in truth (cxref: Pilate - "What is truth?") and more interested in lining their own pockets and pushing their own agendas -- which oddly enough, for some includes the extermination of up to 90% of the worlds population.

It makes me wonder who else would be interested in the extermination of 90% of the population of the planet... hmm... Could it be...... [wait for it] .......

The scientific cult is an extension of a fallen human ego -- a plaything for Satan to manipulate and use to oppose God. Since they replace the One True God with human reason and worship themselves, they can be nothing else. This doesn't mean that all scientists are evil or that good doesn't come out of science. It does mean that we must be careful when we listen to "scientific facts" that are contrary to what the Scriptures teach about the Universe and the One who created it -- especially when they posit things like ice-flows for the savior of that Universe to walk on, or dig up 1700 year old gnostic writings and attempt to place them on par with Holy Writ.

I could go on... but I've already given them too many pixels... suffice it to say, be careful when reading "science."

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Wow! Thanks!

I'm both honored and humbled to be selected as the recipient of a coveted Aardie for the post, Allah is Impotent?. Thank you Aardvark for considering it worthy of consideration.

Also, in view of the Islamic [mis]understanding of the afterlife, thank's for avoiding the Cialis and Viagra jokes about the headline... (Well... Somebody had to....)

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So you want Government Run Healthcare?

Try signing up for a dentist in the U.K. right now!

Government figures show that about two million people want to register with a dentist but are unable to do so. (Telegraph News, 2000 Dentist have not signed NHS contract, 4-7-2006)

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Da Vinci Code Movie given Green Light

It's "good news / bad news"...

On the one hand, part of me wished this would stop the movie's release and we wouldn't have to deal with it. On the other hand, such an interpretation of Copyright Law would be bad as well.

So I guess I have a very mixed reaction. The danger to people's faith is real with all of this heresy and falsehood being spread, but most of it is something the Church has weathered before. Once bad law gets institutionalized, it's nearly impossible to fix. Since the God doesn't promise to come to us through the legal system but only promises to come to us through His Word and Sacraments, I guess I'm happy that reason and good legal interpretation prevailed in this instance.

Now it's up to the Church to work carefully at combatting the spiritual ramifications of this movie -- but PLEASE don't do it on Sunday morning during the Divine Service -- people need to hear more about the real Jesus who died, unmarried and childless, after walking on water not ice, without making a compact with Judas, in order that all mankind would be saved from the punishment of their sin. [And those are just the heresies and lies that the popular media have been talking about in relation to Jesus this week -- wait till next week, there'll be more.]

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This explains the media's behavior....

They're on drugs!

This explains poor judgement and an inability to tell the difference between scientific fact and unsupported conjecture.

I think we should support Bonds in this. In fact, let's open congressional inquiries on journalistic drug use and the effect on the quality of research that goes into stories. Perhaps random drug testing and/or drug tests based on the authorship of outrageous stories that have little basis in fact (or those that dredge up a 1700 year old story as if its new).

The difference being... baseball players are becoming better at doing their job... apparently establishment journalists are getting the leftovers and simply rotting out their brains.

Or, maybe the spend too much time hiding in potted plants skulking for a story.

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The Reason Apologetics Are Important

Interestingly, two of the three articles I've highlighted as examples of media bias against Christianity are the top two articles being emailed from the NYTimes website. One ("Fish with Legs") is on the list twice (two different stories). So if you think people aren't interested in this, think again.

As a theologian in preparation for the Office of the Holy Ministry, the question that arises for me is, "should I (or the Church collectively) be concerned about this?"

Since conversion is fully an act of God, people cannot be "prepared" to be converted or argued into faith. So what difference does it make if all of these things are "out there" in the global consciousness?

Underlying these questions is a question about the role of Apologetics in the Ministry of the Church. Lutheranism has struggled with the role of Apologetics in the church. I would submit this because we too often define it in the same way as the fudamentalists and Arminians do. They believe that the task of the apologist is to either prepare one for conversion or actually argue someone into believing in Christ.

I fully admit, apologetics is not (and can never be) a tool to argue someone into the faith. However, I would argue that it is one of the weapons we have in removing reasons to abandon the faith in favor of more "reasonable" views of reality.

We all know that reason is the whore of Satan when it is not properly in a subjugated relationship to faith in the One True God who has forgiven the World through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ. Reason without Faith in the Gospel leads to pride and conceit. It destroys humility in a believer. Its ultimate end is to supplant God with the false truths generated by human intellect. It thereby destroys faith in God and the work of His Son, Jesus Christ.

However, when properly subjugated to Faith and the Word of God, reason can be an effective tool on behalf of the Gospel.

Scripture clearly teaches that Faith and conversion are fully an act of God. Unbelief and rejection are fully an act of man. Mankind is damned by his own rejection of God's free salvation for the sake of Jesus Christ who died to redeem men from sin.

Simply put, mankind is saved because Jesus died to pay the price for the disobedience of the sin of every man, woman, and child who has lived, lives now, or ever will live. Faith is not a choice to be made. A person can only choose disbelief and reject this free gift of salvation that God has accomplished in Christ.

News articles like those that I have been discussing make it easier to reject and chose to disbelieve. Ultimately, there is little concern about the effect these stories have on "conversion" (properly speaking). However, articles like these can (and do) harm or destroy faith in those without the means to discern truth from error. This is a real danger.

These articles make it easier for the evil one to "snatch away" the seed that has been sown. The Word and the means of grace are the tools that God uses to cultivate the seed. Apologetics, however, can be conceived of as a fence to protect that seed from the crows and ravens which seek to snatch it while it grows and is nurtured by the Means of Grace. Lutherans do not believe, "Once Saved, Always Saved."

The utility of apologetics is not as an evangelistic tool. The only true evangelistic tool is the Gospel (narrowly defined -- which includes Baptism as Water and the Word). But those who have heard the Word and may be struggling with these "competing voices" must be protected lest they be deceived and turned away from the voice of the One True Shepherd.

Part of our duty as the Church is to protect the sheep of the Good Shepherd by pointing out the falsehood and dangers that these "other voices" pose so that they do not harden their hearts and reject the Word that was planted within them.

Therefore, apologetics are extremely important within the church, possibly now more than ever in America. Not in the way they have been employed by fundamentalists and Arminians who believe that we can argue a person into faith or at the very least "prepare" someone for faith, but rather as a tool to repel the assaults of false prophets who would destroy the faith that Christ's sheep have in the Good Shepherd who has laid down his life for His sheep.

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Need more proof of Media Bias?

In case you need yet more proof of a concerted effort to discredit Christianity, the following links to a story that the AP is running about a gnostic writing (the Gospel of Judas) which supposedly has attestation of Ireneus, Bishop of Lyon's writings.

This is the THIRD STORY this week which has eclipsed a scientific study that babies 5 months after conception actually do feel pain. Wonder why that story got buried behind scientific conjecture about Jesus walking on Ice and fish walking on Land. And in case that wasn't enough, now we have the Gospel of Judas (which is NOT news -- since Irenaeus wrote about it in 180 AD --- talk about digging up the past in a slow news week).

National Geographic has translated a 1700 year old papyrus which claims that Jesus asked Judas to betray him.

Rather interesting that this story seems to have broken today and there are already major news organizations running full stories on it... not just the AP wire stories either.

I suppose I should expect this type of thing, but it still bugs me.

[Click on FULL POST below to see some of the articles -- some articles require registration with the news organization (e.g. NY Times and Chicago Tribune)]

Here's some of the links:
  • USA Today
  • NY Times
  • National Public Radio - Surprise, Surprise....

    The National Geographic has also created a website devoted to the Gospel of Judas.

    Even if we accept the patent assault on Christianity as something that is to be expected (which I do), the fact that these stories get play over the murder of innocent babies that we now now know feel pain as a scientific fact is even more irritating and disturbing.

    Christianity has always been under assault, and I make no pretense that I expect anything else. And with the Da Vinci Code book and upcoming movie, we can expect a certain amount of stuff like this. But when Jesus walking on ice instead of water, a gnostic gospel, and a fish with arms gets more play than a scientific study that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that babies (who can be legally disected while still alive in the mother's womb) feel pain --- one wonders where the priorities of editorial policymakers are.

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  • Media Biased Against Christianity?

    The following, I think, provides a pretty clear answer.

    [SUMMARY: Three stories have come into the popular media this week that have a direct impact on people's view of the voracity of Scripture and the position of Christianity on substantive issues. Two of the three were contrary to Christianity and its teachings, the other was confirmation of the understanding that life does begin at conception.

    This post looks at the coverage of these three stories in American Media since they broke earlier this week:

    1) 4/4/2006 Babies 24+ weeks after conception feel pain. (hardly any coverage in the U.S.)
    2) 4/3/2006-4/4/2006 Jesus walked on Ice not Water. (Significant press and broadcast coverage)
    3) 4/5/2006 - Recently found fossil provides missing link between fish and land dwelling animals. (Even more coverage than Jesus walking on Ice instead of water).

    All of these stories broke this week. In the final analysis we have two stories which are (at best) based on theory and conjecture and one story which is based on provable scientific data. Which of the three is NOT reported? Of course, the one that is based on FACT.

    Note also, of the three stories, two of them attack the voracity of the word of God as revealed in Holy Scriptures and one of them is congruent with the revelation of the World as God has caused it to be written in His Holy Word. Of course, which one isn't reported? The one that is congruent. Which two are splashed all over the "popular press"? The two that attack the Scriptures.

    Somehow that burns me more than enough to spend an hour and a half putting together this blog piece. This is utterly disgraceful for a "press" that prides it self on facts and accuracy. In this case, we get no facts --- and thus, accuracy is a null question.

    I guess I'll let you decide how "unbiased" the media is... but I think there's a pretty clear specific pattern that emerges from this... Satan is alive and well in the world. The "popular press" is only one of the tools he has under sway.

    Click "Full Post" below for more information]

    I figured I'd check out with GOOGLE NEWS how many American newspapers have decided to carry the story that REUTERS (and UPI) distributed on April 4 about babies 24 weeks after conception being able to feel pain. You can do the full search yourself, but when I looked at about 1PM today, here's the list.

  • Brocktown News - Not sure what city or state this is in. Their site seems to be a simple aggregation site of some wire stories and not a "real" news organization.
  • Herald News Daily, ND Oddly - has the same page formatting with some slight differences as "Brocktown News" (above). Probably run by the same group. I didn't have much time to check it out.
  • Oberline Times, KS - Uses the same web server as "Brocktown News" (above)... ( - so is obviously run by the same group.
  • Jackson Tribune - Hmm... I'm seeing a definite pattern here with the look and design of the web site's I've seen the article run on so far.
  • Kindred Times - Same as above
  • Ely Times - Ditto
  • MSNBC's Web Site - A somewhat extended Reuters article.
  • ABCNews Wirestory - Same wire story as MSNBC
  • - running a shorter UPI story

    So, we have two major news agencies, Reuters and UPI, with articles written on this subject. We have no mainstream newspapers picking up the story.

    In case the sample from GOOGLE was flawed because of indexing problems, I repeated the search in YAHOO! News. I got the same results... no major US news organization doing anything with this.

    But I realize, space is limited. Maybe there was a more important story... let's look at two other stories that recently hit the news.

    On the same day that it was reported that babies really do feel pain, the story that a University Professor in Florida claims that Jesus walked not on the water as the Gospels report, but on ice was run on the same wires (UPI and Reuters -- I didn't see an AP story, but there probably was one for both stories at somepoint). I must note, however, that articles on this story occurred before April 4. So to be fare, the story isn't quite as new. It apparently broke on 4/3/2006. I didn't research the YAHOO! archives, since there were enough references in GOOGLE alone to prove my point.

    Here's a SAMPLE of the organizations which ran stories:
  • Houston Chronicle
  • USA Today - this is a link to some controversy around this story.
  • Seattle Post Intelligencer
  • NY Times - Ran the story 4/3/2006 - the same day it apparently broke. In fact, even the press releases I found had dates of 4/4/2006.
  • Discovery Channel Web Site - 4/6/2006
  • Kansas City Star - 4/6/2006
  • NY Post - 4/5/2006

    There were others... but this gives you the idea...

    Now, let's look at one more story: Fossilized fish found which "proves" evolution.

    To begin with, I simply do not have enough time to cut and paste all of the links... so again, I will give only a SAMPLE. However, this is a much smaller sample than even the one appearing above.

    This story broke AFTER the story about babies 24 weeks or more after conception feeling pain. Google had 11 pages of references, the MAJORITY from U.S. publications. I didn't even bother looking at Yahoo! Let's see what we have:

  • SF Chronicle
  • Detroit Freepress
  • Chicago Tribune
  • Boston Globe
  • Akron Beach Journal, OH
  • Forbes - multiple updates to the article.
  • Ft Wayne Journal Gazette
  • Tibune Democrate, PA
  • San Luis Obispo Tribune, CA
  • Grand Forks Herald, ND

    In this survey, I attempted to at least filter by headline so that the stories that carried the same headlines (ostensibly from the same wire story) were mostly filtered out. But I think this is an interesting situation. Here's a synopsis of the 3 stories:

    1) A research study which proves scientifically that babies 24 weeks after conception do actually feel pain. This story has existed for 2 full days, has been run on Reuters and UPI and has received next to NO attention in the U.S. press.
    2) A meterological researcher who claims he may have an explanation about how Jesus didn't walk on water but rather walked on ice. [Admittedly, there is controversy surrounding this that doesn't exist with the other, which accounts for some of the additional coverage.] This story gets a large amount of press both written and air-time.
    3) A fossil (the mere existence of which can have multiple interpretations) is said to be the missing link between fish and land dwelling creatures. This story gets a larger amount of press than even Jesus walking on Ice in spite of the fact that it's been around much less time than that story.

    Read Full Post...

  • 2006-04-04

    [Study says] Premature Babies Feel Pain [UPDATED: 4/7/06]

    A BBC Report of a sudy about premature infants and pain confirms what most of us intuitively knew... fetuses feel pain.

    Oh, of course the media won't say THAT... and of course, the research technically doesn't say that either.

    According to the BBC Report:

    Lead researcher Professor Maria Fitzgerald said: "We have shown for the first time that the information about pain reaches the brain in premature babies.

    "Beforehand, although we could assume it, we did not know for sure that these babies could feel pain.

    "These babies' brains are so immature that it was difficult to genuinely know that the pain was going to their brain."

    I like that, "Beforehand, although we could assume it..." -- of course, we DIDN'T assume it, but we COULD assume it.

    Also, I like the interestingly crafted phrase, "information about pain reaches the brain in premature babies." -- They still didn't say they "feel pain." That's quite an interesting bit of obfuscation.

    Since they only studied infants who were born prematurely (25+ weeks) and not those that were still in the womb, I'm sure there'll be some backpeddling when the question gets asked, "Does this mean that a 5 month old fetus feels pain?"

    [Click on Full Post below for More (NOT recommended for those sensitive to discussions about abortion procedures)]
    I can imagine the answer will be something like, "well, this study actually only included babies that had been born, we don't have information about babies still in utero. We also don't have data about babies before 25 weeks, so there's no reason to assume that they feel pain... "

    The pro-abortionists will, of course add something like this: "Therefore we can go ahead and chop them up in utero and vacuum them out with a good conscience until 25 weeks. But if we partially birth them and suck out their brains, they can't feel pain anyway since the brain is what interprets pain. Therefore, we can do that until full delivery."

    [I have little sympathy for the abortion industry and those who promote this despicable practice. I do have a lot of pity for them though. They will have to live the rest of their lives knowing that they maimed and killed the most innocent members of our society -- and that they inflicted pain while doing so.

    On the other hand, I have a lot of sympathy for those who have been decieved and have succumbed to the lies and half truths that abortion is O.K... they were lied to and decieved. Now they must live in the knowledge that they participated in such a barbaric act.

    My message to both is that there is forgiveness in Christ. You are not beyond salvation. Jesus Christ died so that the sin of both the abortionist and the woman who has had an abortion would be forgiven. And that is an accomplished work. This was made sure by His resurrection from the dead which was witnessed by many. I pray that all would hear and come to the knowledge of that truth.]


    Perhaps I'm too cynical, but I expect this will either be buried somewhere in the dominant press in the U.S. or be spun into something else. I'm actually kind of surprised that it made the BBC Front Page RSS feed.

    And then there's this story: Babies < 25 weeks should be left to die. Also: here and here

    Read Full Post...


    I'm not a Chic Geek

    Apparently the qualifications to enter "geekdom" have changed radically since I was a geek.
    Your score is 30

    30 to 60: Heading to Geekdom
    0 to 29: Stuck in the Last Century
    30 to 60: Heading to Geekdom
    61 and up: Seriously Nerdy
    (Source:Newsweek Geek Quiz)

    This makes me think about how much my life has changed since going to seminary. The fact is, I've been a geek since sixth grade when I was teaching my classmates who where considered "accelerated" (I was not tracked as "accelerated") how to program graphics on the Apple IIgs computers in the computer lab. I was selected to do this because the computer teacher didn't know how -- and I did.


    I started college in Computer Science at the State University of New York at Buffalo. It was there I was introduced to Unix (Sun Solaris and others) when I got a job in the Academic Computings Services Department. I was a tech who was installing packet drivers and related software on 286 computers so they could access the Internet and the Novell file servers. People there began asking if I was related to "Arthur Dent" -- and I was introduced to the number 42. (If you don't understand this reference, you are NOT a true geek!)

    When I was leaving there, I downloaded Linux 0.98a to a set of 30 floppies so I could install it at home.

    I went from SUNY Buffalo (SUNYAB) to Concordia College, Ann Arbor (CCAA) after a year and a half... Various things in my life led me to consider entering the ministry. While there, I set up a Linux box to connect the college to the Internet for email and usenet news as well as some "gopher" access. During my time there, I noted that the flat network they had was being over-run with traffic. I pushed an initiative to have the network segmented into multiple subnets (Academic and Administrative).

    When I had to cut back on school, I began working for the Internet Provider that the college was connected through. This was before NCSA Mosaic was popular -- most people were still using text only connections with very limited graphics. 3/4 of the US didn't even know what the Internet was much less how important it would become in most of our lives.

    I won't bore you with all the details of my life there, but we did some pretty "cutting edge" stuff. For example, in connection with another company, we were the first to virtualize web services so more than one web site could run on a single machine. I personally developed an accounting system that would allow us to monitor the amount of data each customer sent and received so we could bill them more as a "utility" (i.e. pay-by-the-byte) -- (I still predict that this will be the way you pay for your Internet service in the not-too-distant future.) I did some other cool stuff like develop (in the C computer language) a customer service application.

    Basically, I was in the cutting edge of development of Internet and related technologies in the 1990's. The company survived the dot-com collapse and is still in business today. I can't imagine where I'd be if I didn't leave there (due to office-politics)... I worked there about 7 years and left and worked as a consultant for 3 years someplace else. I really missed my days at ICNet.

    But my, how the mighty have fallen. I went from "dot-com" geek who (still) can do almost anything you ask me to with a computer -- mostly with open-source software that won't cost a dime (EVER!) -- to a virtual "luddite" according to Newsweek's survey.

    I guess I won't talk about the major flaws with the survey (oops... already started -- can't stop me now! And in reality -- I can't believe you're still reading!). It seems that the survey was geared more toward the "chic geek" than true "geekdom."

    One thing that was interesting in the consulting firm I worked for... we could tell based on a small number of seemingly unrelated factors how good of a network engineer someone would be. Here is a sampling of our assessment:

    *What is the answer to the ultimate question of Life, the Universe and Everything? (42)
    *How much of Douglas Adams, "Hitchhikers Guide" series have you read? How much can you recite from memory?
    *How much Monty Python's "Holy Grail" can you recite from memory?
    *Which is better, Babylon 5 or Star Trek? Why? (Babylon 5 - there's a better story and the costuming is better)

    It was strange... without fail, the answers to these questions were a good barometer of how good of an engineer they would be. Usually the one's who walked in *looking* high-tech, whiz-bang geeky with all of the Microsoft Certifications to "prove" it didn't last long. Of course, getting these questions in the official list used by Human Resources didn't go over well...

    Our best and longest engineers were pretty unassuming - had the geeky toys but didn't flaunt them. In fact, they typically thought everyone else already had them (or couldn't be bothered to ask why they didn't).

    So, I think that's the flaw in this survey. It's really measuring "How much have you been taken in by the marketing hype of geeky toys?"

    So I lay before you the evidence for my true geekiness:

    1) Until my new vocation required it, I had not owned a Microsoft Operating System that was in use for 8 years. (I recently had to purchase MS-Windows in order to run Libronix -- they REALLY need to make a LINUX version!!!!)
    2) Even when I run Windows, it's in a "Virtual Machine" (i.e. I run Windows in a "window" on my Linux computer).
    3) I have found at least 2 major security holes in online websites (Look up USPS Billpay Security Dent for proof. The other was a smaller problem with an online bookstore that sold ebooks where you could download without purchasing) -- in both cases I helped fix the problems.
    4) I can still usually diagnose a computer problem reported by an end-user in 3-5 minutes of conversation. I can usually "get around" the problem in less than 4 minutes if I can sit in front of the machine that is having the difficulty (It usually takes at least an hour to talk the end-user through the solution over the phone.)

    There are many other things...

    Geekiness is just as much a "habitus" as theology. The toys and gizmos you own don't make you a geek, just like owning a Greek New Testament, a BHS, and commentary don't make you a theologian.

    While it was an interesting survey -- I wouldn't call it conclusive by any means. But it was fun walking down memory lane remembering the way things "used to be" in my life. It will be even more interesting to see how God uses everything he's trained me with to date in the future...

    Soli Deo Gloria!

    Read Full Post...