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.

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

Don't Make Vows

…But if you do make ’em, you might want to think about keeping ’em.

Let’s explore this topic together with the help of an obscure passage referring to an event that didn’t exactly get recorded in the Scripture, a cocktail mixed in my mind while I was pondering a related matter, the worms of which can I will not expose to air at this time.

First, let’s examine a few passages, conveniently located in the fifth chapters of a few books each:

Ecclesiastes 5:5 – It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.

Matthew 5:33-37 – “Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.’ “But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING. “Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.

James 5:12 – But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.

It would seem that the main reason why we should not swear or make vows is that it implies one’s regular word is insufficient on a given matter. So one calls something (or Someone) greater as a witness, as it were, to testify of the truth of what the maker of the vow is saying. (Or, if you’re Allah in the Qur’an, feel free to swear all the time by created things.) Which would mean that the listener, or vow-ee, might well have reason to distrust that which the vow-er says in most cases. Obviously, that’s not a good situation to be in. Our speech should always be truthful and reliable.

Proverbs 22:1 – A good name is to be more desired than great wealth; favor is better than silver and gold.

But, as Ecclesiastes said, it is better, if you made a vow, to go ahead and fulfill it (or seek release via mutual consent) rather than to let the thing slide when you come to the conviction later that you shouldn’t have made the vow. Probably the reader who is more astute than I (which is not a difficult task) can think of a few exceptions, but this would appear to be a general rule.

Why? Let’s examine the aforementioned obscure passage. First, the setup and the background.

Joshua 9:
3When the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, 4they also acted craftily and set out as envoys, and took worn-out sacks on their donkeys, and wineskins worn-out and torn and mended, 5and worn-out and patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and had become crumbled. 6They went to Joshua to the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a far country; now therefore, make a covenant with us.” 7The men of Israel said to the Hivites, “Perhaps you are living within our land; how then shall we make a covenant with you?” 8But they said to Joshua, “We are your servants.” Then Joshua said to them, “Who are you and where do you come from?” 9They said to him, “Your servants have come from a very far country because of the fame of the LORD your God; for we have heard the report of Him and all that He did in Egypt, 10and all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon and to Og king of Bashan who was at Ashtaroth. 11“So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us, saying, ‘Take provisions in your hand for the journey, and go to meet them and say to them, “We are your servants; now then, make a covenant with us.”’ 12“This our bread was warm when we took it for our provisions out of our houses on the day that we left to come to you; but now behold, it is dry and has become crumbled. 13“These wineskins which we filled were new, and behold, they are torn; and these our clothes and our sandals are worn out because of the very long journey.” 14So the men of Israel took some of their provisions, and did not ask for the counsel of the LORD. 15Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them.
As we can see, these Gibeonites were seized with a fear that did not lead to salvation or repentance. If they had been truly repentant over their idolatry and sin, would they not have fallen on their knees before God’s people and begged them not to destroy them, and pled to become worshipers of the one true living God? Would they have deceived the people of Yahweh?

Notice also the barb in verse 14. The embarrassing, and pointed, reminder that neither the people nor Joshua consulted Yahweh before swearing their oath. A modern analogy to this situation would be hastily making an oath before consulting the Word of God (after which examination, one would know not to make the oath, but I digress).

Joshua 9 continues:
16It came about at the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, that they heard that they were neighbors and that they were living within their land. 17Then the sons of Israel set out and came to their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon and Chephirah and Beeroth and Kiriath-jearim. 18The sons of Israel did not strike them because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them by the LORD the God of Israel. And the whole congregation grumbled against the leaders. 19But all the leaders said to the whole congregation, “We have sworn to them by the LORD, the God of Israel, and now we cannot touch them. 20“This we will do to them, even let them live, so that wrath will not be upon us for the oath which we swore to them.” 21The leaders said to them, “Let them live.” So they became hewers of wood and drawers of water for the whole congregation, just as the leaders had spoken to them.
Joshua later pronounces a curse on the people, but you can almost hear the Gibeonites fake-quaking in their boots while wiping the sweat from their brows, breathing a sigh of relief, and smirking at the trick they pulled. Now they’re safe from the destruction that their Canaanite neighbors underwent, and found safety, at least for this life.

Obviously it was a mistake for the Israelites to swear the oath that guaranteed the Gibeonites their lives, as it directly disobeyed what Yahweh had told them to do. But for years I thought they’d made a second mistake, a sin of ommision, for not going ahead and obeying the first command and going back on the oath because it had been made under false pretenses. However, the obscure aftermath, a few hundred years later, seems to indicate that my original conclusion was mistaken:

2 Samuel 21:
1During the reign of David, there was a famine for three successive years; so David sought the face of the Lord. The Lord said, “It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death.”
2The king summoned the Gibeonites and spoke to them. (Now the Gibeonites were not a part of Israel but were survivors of the Amorites; the Israelites had sworn to spare them, but Saul in his zeal for Israel and Judah had tried to annihilate them.) 3David asked the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? How shall I make atonement so that you will bless the Lord’s inheritance?”

5They answered the king, “As for the man who destroyed us and plotted against us so that we have been decimated and have no place anywhere in Israel, 6let seven of his male descendants be given to us to be killed and their bodies exposed before the Lord at Gibeah of Saul—the Lord’s chosen one.” So the king said, “I will give them to you.”
I don’t think that the incident referred to in verse 1 is recorded directly, and obviously the Lord’s timing can appear strange to our eyes as this was well into David’s reign and Saul had been dead for decades, but His ways aren’t ours, as I’m continually reminded. The really important thing to see here is that the famine came from God. This disciplinary action was initiated by the Lord, and why? That oath that Joshua and the people swore, under false pretenses, had been violated by subsequent generations of Israelites, and now the Lord had decided to teach a lesson in response to its breaking.

The account is actually pretty disturbing, grieving to read, really. Yet at the end we see verse 14: “…after that God was moved by prayer for the land.”

The situation is pretty alien to anything we’re used to seeing. However, just as we can’t imagine the nastiness of temple or tabernacle worship (for example, notice how the priests are continually spraying blood all over the place and yet there are no provisions for cleaning the altar, and no flypaper back in the day. Use your imagination) and how it graphically portrayed the filth of sin, and just as we can’t imagine the sounds and sights, let alone the smells, of Calvary, in the same way we are insulated in our air conditioning and high-speed Internet from many of the gritty realities in which our forebears grew and died.

All that to say, for the love of God, just let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’. Anything beyond that truly does come from the evil one, and his fingerprints are all over the alternative.

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 (those who I've been told sometimes call themselves the "Pervert Patrol" from Tulsa) (see here what I think of them) 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?

Friday, September 19, 2014

More self-defeating hypocrisy from Babies Are Murdered Here and Marcus Pittman

Earlier this week a significant hubbub resulted from a confrontation between abolitionist Chris Rush from Minnesota and pro-life big-shot celebrity heroine Abby Johnson. Rush apparently attended an Abby J event with the intent of speaking to her about something related to abolition. He carried a GoPro in his hand to record part of it. When Abby J noticed the camera she tried to grab it and then, as he pulled away, told her some half-dozen friends standing around to grab it. Thus she did nothing less than inciting mob violence against an individual, attempting robbery of his property.

Since then she has lied about Rush and refused to claim any guilt for instigating a violent encounter.

Anyway, to substantiate his account of the incident, Rush put out the unedited video of the encounter. He lost his cool and self-control and did not regain it in what I would call a timely manner, and a few times used profanity a few minutes after the attempted robbery.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Grab-Bag of Roman Catholic Mistakes

Roman Catholic: Hmm, guess I won't be joining. By the way y'all, there would be no bible without Catholics. Who do you think put the table of contents in there? Look it up folks!

Me: there would be no bible without Catholics.

All this time I thought God wrote the Bible.

Who do you think put the table of contents in there?

1) The people of God. Not Rome and not Roman Catholics.
2) Rome doesn't have a closed Old Testament Canon. See the book of 2 Esdras - the Council of Trent passed over that book in silence.
3) Rome doesn't have a canon of infallible teachings.

Rome is actually in a much worse position than Sola Scripturists on that question. MUCH worse.

The bible is a collection of books inspired by God and written by men. Catholics also hold the bible to be the inerrant word of God and the canon of the bible was established at the Council of Nicea in the 4th century. The OT consisted of the canon established by the Jews and would have been known by the Apostles. The NT canon needed to be established because there were many "gospels" at the time and some had to be excluded, such as the Gospel of Thomas, Peter, and numerous others. The Church Fathers met in a council to codify the canon of scripture until Martin Luther thought he knew better almost a thousand years later.

Me: Catholics also hold the bible to be the inerrant word of God

The RCC thinks that evolution is true. Thus your statement is false.

the canon of the bible was established at the Council of Nicea in the 4th century

That is untrue. Nicea did not deal with the canon at all. Show your evidence.

The OT consisted of the canon established by the Jews and would have been known by the Apostles

RCC claims to have apostolic succession. So is 2 Esdras canonical or not? Just answer the question.

The NT canon needed to be established because there were many "gospels" at the time and some had to be excluded, such as the Gospel of Thomas, Peter, and numerous others.

You're mistaken again. Those other "gospels" were written much later than the canonical Gospels.

The Church Fathers met in a council to codify the canon of scripture

No, they didn't. This is fiction.

until Martin Luther thought he knew better almost a thousand years later.

Pope Gregory the Great, Athanasius, and Cardinal Cajetan all held to DIFFERENT canons of the Old Testament than that which Rome affirmed at the Council of Trent.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Hosting a Debate

Friend of the blog Truth Unites...and Divides has asked me to host a debate between him and another individual. I have to go away from blog for a day or two but I can give a better name to this post when I get back if the two individuals would like to carry on debating in this combox.

No links to pr0n is pretty much all I ask.

Pericope Harmonisation in the Qur'an

Recently I was sharing the Gospel outside a local mosque, and one of the men who talked with me mentioned that since the New Testament tells the same story a few different ways in different books, the New Testament can't be from God. In essence he was making a clumsy and unsophisticated appeal to what some call "the Synoptic problem". It isn't really a problem at all but the meme is perpetuated by the many ignorant heathens in the West who have Internet access, as well as by pretty much any Muslim with the least desire to talk to a Christian about such matters. Yet even such a luminary as Bart Ehrman once told me in private email that he considered it an insuperable task to harmonise the four accounts of Jesus' Resurrection. When I told him I was way ahead of him, he didn't reply.

Anyway, I told my Muslim friend that the Qur'an does the exact same thing and though I didn't remember the exact references, I remembered that the pericope where Allah tells Satan (Iblis) to prostrate before Adam and Satan refuses was "guilty" of the same thing that my friend was saying proves the human origin of the New Testament. He didn't believe me and I couldn't prove it at the moment, but I went back and doublechecked, and this is what I found.

Also of interest to anyone who is familiar with the biblical account of creation is the way the Qur'anic author seems to try to follow the pattern of the fall laid out in Genesis, but messes up in numerous details. Nowhere in Genesis does Satan say anything about the nakedness of the first couple. Obviously nowhere is there any angelic interaction, much less does Adam name the angels or become the object of a worshipful posture. 

Acts 10:25-26 - When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter raised him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am just a man.”
Revelation 19:10 - Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
Revelation 22:8-9 - I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. But he said to me, “Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God.”

If two or more authors or witnesses recount what they saw in ways that complement but do not contradict each other, why not consider that they are merely adding to the story from their own perspective? This Muslim argument against the divine origin of the New Testament fails, for it disproves the divine origin of the Qur'an as well.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Since I apparently can't say this...

I'll just point out someone else who is saying what needs to be said about the exploitation of Braxton Caner's suicide by Ergun Caner and various others of his enablers.

I mean, this post was fine but didn't go nearly far enough in my humble opinion.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Preaching About Depo-Provera at the Gates of Hell

September 11 - A Good Day to Repent

More human beings will die today from abortion in the USA than died on Sept 11.

Chances are, you're not doing anything about that.

Moreover, while virtually nobody will ever have the opportunity to help stop a terrorist attack, virtually everyone has the opportunity on a daily basis to help stop the systematic butchery of children. Yet the abortionists continue their daily work and almost nobody stands in their way.

Repent, America.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Leaven of the Pharisees - "authority" "sending you out"

A faithful abolitionist and his family sacrificed of his time and energy to warn and preach the truth and the Gospel to attendees of a recent event in his area put on by a Word of Faith heretic.

He then posted some pictures and stories about his experience on Facebook. The following conversation ensued.

Pharisee Disciple: Hmmmm. Still trying to discern the motive here. Are y'all sent out there by a local pastor or any church government or authority?
September 7 at 9:23am

The Abolitionist In Question: The motive is love for God's Church. There are probably some sheep that are going in there that have ears to hear. We are there for them.
As far as being sent: we have King Jesus and all of His commands as authority enough as our dispatch orders.
September 7 at 9:51am

A Former Abolitionist Who Has Ingested the Leaven of the Pharisees: His commands are to love one another assuming we are part of a governing body that He established.
Yesterday at 1:26am

Me: All believers are sent out by the authority of Jesus Christ. No other authority or sending is necessary.
A better question is: Why weren't other Christians and churches out there doing the same?
23 hours ago

Me: Where does the NT say anything about a GOVERNING body?
23 hours ago