Monday, November 24, 2014

So many atheists are ruled by emotion

It's amazing how easy it is to reduce atheists to a miserable mass of quivering feeling, devoid of reason or common sense.

All I did was tweet this:


And got a firestorm!
My favorite tweet in the ruckus was this one:
And then it got even better:



I had to bow out after somewhere around 50 attempts on my part to get these atheists to reason consistently. Canard after canard after canard... I don't think a single one of them had ever even thought about my challenge before. I didn't have time to keep up with all of the shambling inanity, so this combox is an open invitation to anyone who would question me on the matter.

Monday, November 17, 2014

In which my tweet about the Herald Society is vindicated

On my "to listen to occasionally" list of podcasts is Tony Miano's "Cross Encounters". I can't remember which episode it was, but some time before the November 2014 Herald Society conference, he spent some time hyping the conference and encouraging listeners to attend. My interest was piqued when he specifically stated that this year's HS conference would not feature very much street evangelism or open air preaching (OAP), but would rather focus on sermons wherein the conference attendees would sit and listen to someone talk from the stage.

This struck me as a bizarre waste of time and energy - could not sermons like these be recorded beforehand, or preached at one's own church or something in some sort of collaborative effort, and later made available for download to whoever wanted them? The whole point of calling your conference the Herald Society would seem to be to get heralds together. You get however many dozens of people interested in OAP, doesn't it make a ton of sense to actually go out and herald the Gospel all over the place?

If an OAPreacher is a candle illuminating darkness within our culture, what happens when you get 50 of those candles together in one place? That much more brightness and illumination, right? So when we read things like Matthew 5...

14“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

...wouldn't it be a good idea to go ahead and shine that bright light to those who are in darkness? How is it a good idea to take that light, all those OAPreachers, and hide them behind the walls of a building, using all their time to preach around 20 (probably pretty lengthy) sermons in 2 1/2 days?

CR, are you around?

CR, if you see this, please email me.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Refreshing

It's not often that the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy (Luke 12:1), is so obviously displayed as it was here recently.
Thankfully, abolitionists' attendance of Bellevue Baptist Church on Sunday caused something of a stir, which is one of the things we were hoping for. That the hearts of Pharisees revealed themselves afterward is a bonus.
Consider:




Even through the cold, cruel screen through which you view these words, you can feel the flow of love and warmth, the Christian charity.

Forget all the times we have repeatedly rejected the word "protest" with respect to the Church Repent project. Forget the fact that all we did was attend the service quietly and then afterwards offer pamphlets to people, then when security stepped in and, in a break from their normal pattern, pushed everyone out of the auditorium and called the cops to make us leave even though a simple request would have sufficed, we merely sang "Amazing Grace" and then left. Forget that if we had been there to protest, there would have been zero doubt that we were there to protest! Forget the fact that abolitionists specifically and explicitly reject violence, whereas John Brown didn't. And forget the fact that OR wasn't violent either, and yet Butler's and Miano's pastor looked the other way while a member of his church sent sheriff's deputies to beat the tar out of and break bones of OR volunteers.

Fred Butler did us all the favor of stripping the niceties from this debate. Tony Miano and his acolytes love to talk about "unity in the Gospel", and Butler and others will say the same when they don't dislike you enough. They'll even reach across denominational lines and make sure everyone knows that Presbyterians, Lutherans, Arminians, and such are their brothers in Christ, because we all hold to the same Gospel. But poke at one of their sacred cows - the institutional church structure - and suddenly the false veneer vanishes.

Apparently to them, location matters. You can criticise Bellevue Baptist pastor Steve Gaines all you want for his arch-anti-Calvinism and his crazy support for altar calls and sinner's prayers, as long as you do it from afar. Dare to defile the sacred ground of the church building and suggest that maybe there are false converts inside its walls and that maybe something ought to be done about that, and these Gatekeepers of Evangelical Purity will make sure your backside is smarting.

The Gospel we preach is not fundamentally different. Miano professes faith in the Gospel, and I believe the Gospel. I think there's more unity in the Gospel than these men do. Butler thinks there was no unity to begin with.

But many Pharisees can profess the Gospel quite well. That's part of their charm. It's by their fruits you will know them. Though it may hurt a bit to see people we may admire reveal the sin in their hearts, let it be a helpful reminder that we are not to put our trust in men.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Preaching at the University of Memphis

At the University of Memphis five days ago.
130 abolitionists converged on the campus to expose the evil of abortion and call students to repent and believe the Gospel and obey the law of Jesus Christ. In the afternoon the conversations continued, and a good opportunity to preach presented itself.



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Long back and forth with a Satanist

Someone claiming to be a Satanist wrote in to the Abolish Human Abortion contact page. I reproduce our conversation here for your edification:

His first email:

I beg a pardon, but I couldn't help but notice what seems to me to be a slight hypocrisy in the reasoning that backs the opinions stated on this site. As a Christian organization (or at least a predominantly Christian organization) your holy book of choice is obviously the Bible---a collection of texts that boast astonishingly little concern for the welfare of children, even for a series of writings jotted down in the Bronze Age. The book of Proverbs, for example, recommends beating one's offspring with rods (staves) in response to defiance (Proverbs 19:18, Proverbs 22:15, Proverbs 23:13-14) and tells parents not to allow themselves to feel pity for their child's crying. This book supposedly being written by king Solomon---the wisest person ever to live and a godly man, by the Bible's account. King David, Solomon's father, and someone Yahweh describes as "...a man after mine own heart..." sung songs by harp about his hope that soldiers would someday invade the enemy country of Babylon and that the citizens of that place would be made to witness their children---presumably innocent, just like the unborn---crushed to death against stones by the invaders (Psalms 137:9). His predecessor Saul performed a complete genocide of the Amalekites, slaughtering men, women, children, and "sucklings" all on Yahweh's explicit command. (He even forbids Israel from sparing any of the Amalekites' pets or livestock.---1 Samuel 15:3)

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

On Holding on Viola, Part 2

Continuing with Holding's review from last time...

This is just more of the same errors Viola makes throughout: Blaming the "institutions" instead of the people

People institute and maintain institutions.




ailing to credential this alleged "functioning headship" of Christ (Mormons and others say they have it too)

What is Holding's obsession with these comparisons to Mormonism? Of course they CLAIM those things. But those claims are empty. This is like doubting real US dollars exist because counterfeiters have gotten very good at their craft.



For Viola to describe himself and others as "daring" just because, e.g., they got bored with church and left,is offensive.

1) I don't recall any self-ascribing of martyrdom on Viola's part. So Holding is being unnecessarily shrill.
2) If it's not daring to follow one's convictions in the face of a great deal of traditions and peer pressure to the contrary, what word would Holding prefer? I'm not saying it's the best thing anyone could ever do, but why isn't it daring?
3) What is really offensive is Holding's strawman - "they got bored with church".
"With church and left" - but Viola specifically tells certain readers NOT to leave their institutional churches, and for the rest he recommends... church! He's not calling people to walk away from church, least of all b/c they're "bored". He is calling them to embrace a more biblical form of church.



House church for Viola's purpose is idividuals trying to satisfy THEMSELVES.

1) Not house church. Organic church.
2) What is Holding's evidence for this assertion? Shouldn't he have proof of this sinful attitude before making the accusation?



(Org)anic unity can be achieved anywhere by people willing to give up themselves as a priority. A house church may seem to succeed in this regard (as may a Sunday School class or church sub-group) because you're gathering together a group of people who disagree on the same issues; and so the illusion of being an "organic entity" can be perpetrated.

Viola makes this exact point in his book. Did Holding read it carefully enough to note it?



I sense a persecution complex when Barna says people cry out "heretic" when suggestions are made to change practices

Ironically, Holding contributes to the justification of a persecution complex with this accusation, which is based on nothing more or less than his "sense".
Also ironically, Holding has already several times poked fun in this review at what he thinks is Viola's centering on his emotions and sensations, whereas here he does the same thing. Maybe I could insert a comparison to Mormons to make it fair and square.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

On Holding on Viola, Part 1

My attention was recently directed to JP Holding's review of Viola & Barna's Pagan Christianity, a book that I read recently and which edified me significantly.

I'd like to write a full review of it. I don't have time to go through the monstrous article in its entirety at the moment, but I would like to offer the following review of the introduction, leading up to the subtitle Preface in the review article.


He portrays himself as an advocate of "natural and spontaneous expression" that allegedly comes from "the divine life that indwelt the early Christians" [xix]. Really? Mormons call that a "burning in the bosom," and it is epistemically a disaster area.

I honestly do think this statement misunderstands Viola.
Mormons cite "burning in the bosom" for proof that the Book of Mormon is true. I see no comparative claim in the book.


"Natural and spontaneous expression" looks far too much like a rationalization to turn a church meeting into a widespread counseling and storytelling session

I don't think this is fair. Yes, Viola is a bit charismatic for my tastes, maybe a bit goofy, but nothing he says in the book **necessarily** leads to this characterisation.



in which it is only imagined that Jesus is the "functional head"

But why is it "only imagined"? No, the Bible doesn't lay out a specific set of do-this and don't-do-thats... that's how Jesus is indeed the functional head, for everyone plays a part in fulfilling NT commands and love.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Interested in discussing vaccines

I come from a family that is pro-vaccine as far as I can tell, and I have participated in vaccines in the past to a pretty thorough extent. I find myself strongly questioning the wisdom and propriety of vaccines in the modern West, but I would like to sharpen my understanding by talking to someone or more than one person who is pro-vaccine. I consider myself at this point just to the right of neutral on the question, just a shade more anti-vaccine than pro-.

A few questions I'm asking follow. Please pardon my ignorance. I learn best when talking to people, so I'd appreciate a modicum of respect in answering, though of course there is no requirement:

1) Why is it that reports continually emerge that vaccines contain ingredients that are poisonous, such as formaldehyde, mercury, aluminum, and the like?

2) Is there a good reason for parents of vaccinated children to be concerned if unvaccinated children attend the same government school as their vaccinated children? If so, why?

3) How is it justifiable to inject children with the body parts of other children who were murdered?

4) Why wouldn't the slow response of the medical community to things like the Gardasil debacle give a parent pause?

5) Why is it important to inoculate against minor maladies like measles?

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Trinity as three-leaf clover

Recently a friend posted a video of street evangelism in which she was sharing the Gospel with a Muslim. This Muslim young man didn't know much about the Bible and in the course of the convo asked "What is the Holy Spirit?"

My friend used the words "it is..." in her response and went on to try to explain the Trinity as three-leaf clover. Here's the comment I left under her video:
------
Thanks for the video! Just a few thoughts:

1) Don't refer to the Holy Spirit as "it". He is a person.
2) You used the three leaf clover analogy for the Trinity. I would recommend against using such an analogy.
Here is a small tongue-in-cheek reason not to use that analogy.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQLfgaUoQCw

It's sarcastic humor. But it illustrates the underlying reason not to use that kind of analogy - the Holy Spirit is fully God, just as the Father and the Son are. They are distinct and yet co-equal, all sharing the essence of divinity equally and fully. The clover analogy does not express the godhead well enough. Of course any analogy fails, but where they fail in a really fundamental way, we should abandon them.

I much prefer to explain the Trinity to a Muslim like this - "The Bible is God's Word. The Qur'an affirms that it is. The Bible teaches that there is one God and only one. It also teaches that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and that they are all distinct and yet there is only one God. This is a great mystery. We accept what the Bible teaches b/c it's what God told us." and kind of go from there, showing them in the Bible why we think that is true, if they ask.

A better analogy if you must use one is this: Imagine three balloons of equal size and shape. Each balloon is filled with the same air. Not the same AMOUNT of air. Literally the same air.
How is that possible? It's not, not in this physical universe. That's part of the point. The Trinity doesn't map all that well onto our physical, material experiences.

(HT: SyeTenB for the balloon analogy)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Pulpit & Pen blog - Don't Make Vows

http://pulpitandpen.org/2014/09/25/dont-make-vows/

The convoluted Resurrection accounts

Gary said:
This story is more convoluted that a Mexican tele-novela!

I agree it's not the most straightforward account I've ever seen.
1) Truth is often stranger than fiction.
2) It's hard to empathise since I've never given up everything to follow a guy around for 3+ years, watched Him silence the most learned people of His day with a word, cast out demons and heal people by the hundreds, teach me with crazy authority I've never heard, predict His own death, then get tortured, die in the most humiliating way possible, get buried, and then start to understand that He may well have risen from the dead. I have no idea how I'd react, how logically, how many times I'd go back to the tomb to check again, just to make sure I wasn't dreaming.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Oklahoma City Satanic Black Mass

So this past Sunday in downtown OKC a group of Satanists rented a small event hall in the Civic Center to do a Black Mass. They had even somehow purloined a consecrated Eucharistic host but the threat of legal action made 'em give it back. Both of which events are really funny to me.


As I had expected, out in front of the Civic Center in the plaza, it was a chaotic, noisy madhouse. Pelagian street preachers (the "Pervert Patrol" from Tulsa) with their bullhorns preaching a bunch of not particularly persuasive hate-filled screeds, Black Israelites bellowing at the top of their lungs, hundreds of Roman Catholics praying responsive prayers (mostly to Mary) (who else, right?) with their own amps and holding idols and large pictures of Mary, mainline Protestant groups singing milquetoast "worship" songs, some other Roman Catholics playing bagpipes, people blowing shofars...



Notice how the "My" is capitalised. This is supposedly Mary speaking, and she gets the divinised reference to a nomina sacra, as it were. And where is Jesus in the photo? Nowhere. Tell me this isn't idolatry so that I may have a good laugh.



Anyway, as I expected, virtually nobody actually attending the Black Mass hung around outside and talked to anyone. Like last time, all the paying attendees slunk in the side to enter and skulked out the side to exit.

Really, in a vacuum this event was not a big deal. According to press who observed the Black Mass on the inside, about 40 people attended. Seriously, who cares? The only reason this attracted so much media attention is because the Satanists played the Media Whore game and the local Roman Catholic archdiocese played their willing dance partner. Thus the Roman Catholics' efforts entirely backfired in my opinion. They were mad about this event.

But, happily, it attracted such a large crowd that some servants of the Lord Jesus were able to take advantage to outreach to them.

I prepared a tract centering around the Roman Mass. I was thinking I'd probably do some street preaching too. 

When we arrived, though, it was chaotic. The noise and clamor was astonishing. And then just as the Roman prayers were reaching their climax, a rainbow appeared in the sky. Not particularly surprising, since the sun was at a convenient angle for such and it had rained on us a little when we were a mile from the Civic Center. But many of the RCs took it for a sign from heaven. Probably the most interesting moment of the evening was when, right after I had turned to find what everyone was staring at and then spotted the rainbow, this lady materialised at my side and gushed about how we're winning and God is on our side and we have nothing to fear and isn't it awesome? I had no idea what to say and so just kinda smiled and nodded like a doofus. I belatedly offered her a tract and she smiled and shook her head as she walked away and I was just standing there like what just happened? What a weird environment!



The attitude of many of the RCs was best summed up in: "why are you talking to us when the real enemy is inside?" At which point I tried to remind them that they're the ones who are members of the religion that anathematised the gospel and perverts the Lord's Table.


My friend gave out a lot of the aforementioned tracts about the Mass; I had less success with that. I had some good conversations. I rebuked the Pelagian street preachers, who then rebuked me for wasting time rebuking them when there were hundreds of lost people just over yonder. I told one of them (this guy) I can do both and this is worthwhile, and he rudely told me to get on with it, like a schoolboy double-dog-daring me to preach, to show him how it's done.
There's only so much childishness a man can take before you just don't know what to say anymore. It's like it's hard to talk intelligently, like the dumb creeps into your own brain by osmosis.
But I figured I'd rather not waste the opportunity or let my 'yes' be 'no', so I fired up my brand new amp and preached about the Mass for a while at that point. The Pelagian guy had a camera on me pretty much the whole time as if to intimidate me or prove a point. The preach went well, and when I was done he came over, almost apologetic, and said "hey that was good stuff, solid preaching."
I wasn't sure I wanted his affirmation, but I smiled and said thanks before turning to talk to some Romanists who wanted to comment.



Aaaaaannnndddd also my camera malfunctioned and didn't record any audio. Disappointing, as there were numerous interesting incidents.

But at least I praise God that the Gospel went out to many. I am left dumbfounded at how few Christians were there to witness of the Gospel, in a place where hundreds of people are gathered in a place in order to publicly discuss a spiritual matter. Where are you, church of God?