Saturday, April 30, 2005

Antichrist: Focus on the Family

Antichrist! Don't look at me! This is not one of my eye-catching titles--this is what Colorado Senator Ken Salazar declared!
Not too 'PC' is it?
This is what happens when we send mature men to represent us in the US Congress; they are to stand tall and speak to the issues of the day. Way to go Salazar--show 'em the stuff your made of! (tongue firmly planted in cheek).

On the other hand, the freedom of speech has moved from "hate speech" (why is no one throwing the book at this Democratic Senator?) to "love speech". A local Middle School teacher (as reported this Friday night on 9news) was under fire for changing the pledge of allegiance in his class from "under God" to "under your own private belief-system" (or some such language). He was under fire from the school, but some of the students decided to defend them (isn't that special--teach anti-God politics when they're young!).

What do these two events have in common? They both display the further balkanization and collapse of American Culture. From a theological and philosophical viewpoint, any given culture by definition cannot stay viable if differences become greater than the commonality that is the 'glue' of culture. The radical political view on the left and the conservative religious views of Protestantism are incompatible. Both are fermenting in the "American Experiment". This melting pot will boil over.

The commonality of these two speech events is further expressed in the idea of unacceptable language. One wishes to drag Christians into the mud of unspeakable evil while the other wishes to collapse all religious distinctions and marginalize Christianity in the process. In either case, the traditional (in both Classical Protestantism and Modernism) idea that the limits of free speech express the cultural limits of truth and falsehood are being twisted into a new mold of postmodernism. There is no truth; truth is a "social construct"; thus, truth is reduced to power. And power is best expressed in the greatest and furthest expression it can accomplish: in the machinery of the public government: politics.

Truth becomes political.
It is a tool.

And Salazar used it to attack his "enemies"--he "apologized" (or rather "regretted" the use of the word), of course, but with a wink and nod he has fed more ire and anger to those who actually believe these setiments (just tune into Sean Hennity to hear some of 'em!).
The school teacher used it to attack his "enemies" as well--by marginalizing Christianity in the "marketplace of ideas" and indoctrinating (as all teachers must--for good or ill) his students to think in these terms.

If there is no absolute truth or that truth is unknowable to man (a philosophical impossibility--but that's another story!), then free-speech means the ability to describe reality in any way desired.

And the pope is not catholic.

And not the antichrist...but Focus on the Family is, if you believe Salazar.


Monday, April 25, 2005

A Short Review 2: Christian Balance

Maintaining the Delecate Christian Balance, Jay Adams
A Short Book Review 2

From explaining biblical love and hate to balancing community and individual, this small book contains twenty-three useful chapters on a host of important issues found in every Christian’s life. The premise of the book is that a healthy and mature life is based on the proper proportion—or balance—of various doctrines and practices of our faith. For instance, Adams points out that Christ calls believers to be shrewd as serpents and harmless as doves; an unbalanced life would follow one at the expense of the other (p. 2). Or some Christians expound a heartless truth while others extol a lying love—neither is biblically balanced. Many believers today take one truth or practice and pit it against its biblically paired truth.

There are two beneficial aspects to this book. It presents a simple model to help look at various problems in the Christian life. Many Scriptural doctrines are exaggerated in America and they affect how we live. True to the book’s focus, at the conclusion Adams does admit there are issues which are not balanced but are in complete antithesis, such as the role of faith and works in justification. Also, the great numbers of topics covered are sure to give the reader plenty to chew on. Although the chapters are short, the thoughtful reader will find many valuable gems and engaging examples for thinking and acting in a balanced manner.

This little book will be useful for brief readings to challenge our inconsistencies and imbalances or for Christian friends who need encouragement to accept all the doctrines of the bible instead of exalting one truth at the expense of the other.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

"I smell a Rat"zinger

That's right--just like the surpised utterance of Patrick Henry when he discovered that the creation of the Constitution was accomplished behind closed doors, I, too, after discovering some newer information on the new pope, proclaim: I smell a rat--Ratzinger the Rat!

Sound harsh? In light of the Roman Catholic dogma, utterances, councels and actions, this language is mild! Read the Reformers like Luther, Calvin and Knox--they called the pope the AntiChrist!--A man who decieves the Church and mocks God Almighty with a works-"gospel"!
(A whole other post can be written about American queasiness over calling a "spade a spade").

My language is not used in a puerile manner, but as an accurate description! Here is why (translation couresy of a German Calvinistic Conservative friend):

"[M]uch [of] democratic socialism stood and stands close to the social ethics of catholicism, in any case it [Socialism] considerably has contributed to the development of a social conscience" --Ratzinger (pope Benedict XVI)

What more need I say? Will this be published in the American Press? Will Hewitt, Hannity, Ingraham and Medved quote this or analyze his political works?

If the Roman Catholic history is known, this will not be surprising. This world-organization has been attracted to totalitarianism for centuries (there are theological reasons for this). Professor Nichols of the University of Chicago wrote in his chapter on "Catholicism And the Totalitarian":
"Being contemptuous of democracy anyway, he [Pius XI] developed a policy of supporting militarist authoritarian governments which could be counted on to fight Communism...having thus paved the way for Mussolini's rise to power [by eradicating any political opposition to the Fascist party] by breaking Catholic democracy, the Vatican proceeded from 1926-1929 to draft a series of agreements with the dictator"

(History of Christianity: 1650-1950, p.365ff.)

What more need I say??
Perhaps one more thing: "For most of the war, the Vatican Secretariate of State apparently expected and desired the victory of the Central Powers. Benedict [XV !!] never would speak out in condemnation of the German violations of Belgian neutrality..." (p.365)

So, Ratzinger wants to name himself after that pope?

Long ago, Patrick said "I smell a rat" in Philadelphia--well, I smell a rat in Italy. With the mid-90s Evangelical fawning over the Roman church, will we have learned our lesson? The American Churches better wake up.

[Reference for the Ratzinger quote: Die Seele Europas" (The soul of Europe) quotes from a book written by the new pope which came out of the printing press last Wednesday: "Werte in Zeiten des Umbruchs" (Values in a time of change); (the leading daily of Munich, S├╝ddeutsche Zeitung, page 8, issue of Wednesday, 8th, headline) Original text: "In vielem stand und steht der demokratische Sozialismus der katholischen Soziallehre nahe, jedenfalls hat er zur sozialen bewu├čtseinsbildung erheblich beigetragen"]

Friday, April 15, 2005

Know Thyself (Institues I.1.1)

This is part 1 of a monthly series looking at Calvin's Institutes (I.1.1)

In Calvin’s Institutes (book I, chapter 1, section 1, McNeil ed.) he opens his massive tome with epistemology (a very relevant topic today)-the study of how and what we know. Calvin contends that knowledge is two-fold: of ourselves and of God. However, Calvin does not plunge the murky depths of human philosophy nor does he bedazzle the reader with fancy words (like I just did!), he simply points out the common-sense understanding that anyone who honestly thinks of himself will be lead to see God.

Why? How does this follow? For Calvin, from the “feeling of our own ignorance, vanity, poverty, infirmity, and-what is more-depravity and corruption, we recognize” that all goodness, righteousness and light reside in Him alone. That is, recognition of our sins requires recognition of God. For the unbeliever this is not saving knowledge, but for the believer it illumines our minds, blinding our eyes by the majesty of His Holiness. The Spirit through the Law shows us our depravity and rebellion that only make sense in reference to God-Romans 1 argues that all men know God from his handiwork.

But this is not all: without knowledge of God there is no knowledge of self. Again why? How? Calvin asserts that “we always seem to ourselves righteous and upright and wise and holy-this pride is innate in all of us-unless…we stand convinced of our unrighteousness and foulness…” So, he reinforces his first point that an honest examination of ourselves (by the Spirit) will show that we live in rebellion against the King of the universe. Calvin is not saying that we find God in ourselves because we possess a self-sufficient standard of judgment, rather: “we are not thus convinced if we look merely to ourselves and not also to the Lord, who is the sole standard by which this judgment must be measured” (37).

In other words, by seeing our own sin and misery we will be displeased with ourselves and seek God. And we would never even see our true miserable selves without God, the sole standard by which judgment is measured. If you want to know the glories of God’s perfection, pray the Spirit, through the Word, to illumine your eyes and know thy self.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Econ 101

I have a confession to make: I never liked economics. (that is why I am an aspiring polymath).

My one and only class consisted of a half-semester blur of vague terminologies and amorphous ideas. I never had ‘econ’ (as everyone in college called it) in college—I avoided it like the plague.

Now, I signed up for cultural anthropology (i.e. social studies), math, science, English, speech, philosophy and even logic. But no econ. Wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole.

In retrospect, I can understand why. There was no simple model used to explain our complex system called Capitalism (probably because most of the writers were closer to Socialists). However, my thoughts were wooed back to the area of econ through a short essay in Imprimis (highly recommended and free).

This particular month’s speech digest (March) featured Walter Williams of George Mason University. He pointed out that many modern (postmodern?) theorists describe our system as though it were controlled by a small cadre of bigots who grudgingly handed out cash. Many talk as though a large money pile existed somewhere and only the rich know where it is.

In contrast, Wiliams’ model put a positive light on Capitalism: “serving one’s fellow man.” How? He uses a performance model: dollars are “certificates of performance.” I mow your lawn; you give me money; I take the money to the store; I buy something that someone else produced. The cashier takes the money as a claim of performance: “in effect the grocer says: ‘you’re making a claim on something your fellow man produced. You’re asking him to serve you—but did you serve him?’ I say ‘Yes I did.” The grocer responds, “Prove it!” That’s when I show him my certificate of performance”—money.

In opposition to the “man-is-selfish-let-us-monopolize-upon-it” view of Capitalism, Williams’ take seems to have a Christian twist. It is definitely a clear paradigm—easy to digest. I wish I had this in school.

The rest of the speech flushes out the implications and proofs for this approach. But that is for another posting.

I just might start liking econ.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Blogg'n & Being a Presbyterian

Someone just recently asked " so did you give up on bloggin already?"
The answer is: yes & no.

Yes, because I will not keep the schedule I desired.
No, because I will still write something about twice a week.
Now, of course, you will ask why nothing was sent for almost a week--and I have a ready excuse: Presbytery.

What this means is that twice a year (three times if I go to General Assemby during the summer--which I will), representatives of the churches in Colorado, Utah, and North and South Dakota, meet to consider issues of discipline, doctrine and practice in all our churches. As a Presbyterian, I believe that mutual accountability is best expressed through connectiveness (not independency) and enforceable accountability (as opposed to the not-too-practical accountability of most independent Evangelical churches where if one does not like the discipline he runs off to another church).

Nothing very exciting happened during our meeting. We heard and presented the praises and prayers of the churches. We split off into committees to consider any petitions, concerns and church minutes. Votes were taken. Arguments were made. Overall, we conducted the business of Christ's Church through her ministers and ruling elders working in concert, exercising the rule of government and discipline.

I have another excuse: I have increased my class load to graduate on time. This includes a 75-page M. Div thesis paper on weekly communion.

Yes, I'll be busy. But, then, blogs are supposed to be short.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Hannity, Hewitt, Ingraham, Medved & the AntiChrist

AntiChrist?! Why would I write Sean Hannity and antichrist in the same sentence, let alone all four of these popular radio talk show hosts? Because Sean and Laura are self-avowed Roman Catholics, Hugh (the Presbyterian!) pays verbal homage to the pope and Micheal talks about the great strides toward common understanding between Jews and Roman Catholics (all in one days worth of listening!).

While driving around searching for yard supplies with my beautiful wife, I was recently reminded of this fact when I heard Sean on the radio pontificating about the Pope. He spent a number of minutes explaining the "fact" that the pope hails from "Saint Peter himself"; he further explained in detail how the Roman Catholic Church chooses a new pope, with the head of the Cardinal Council verifying the death of the pope through uttering his baptismal name three times while striking him with a silver hammer (I won't go there....).

As a dedicated Classical Protestant, I was quite nauseated. My wife was having a conniption (well, not literally). This was free advertisement for the Roman Catholic heresy. Even though many of my spiritual ancestors (especially on the Continent) believed the pope to be the Antichrist, I believe he is an antichirst--one among a history of many within the church.

Of course, it went from bad to worse. He invited a Rabbi on to further bolster the reputation of the pope. Medved also had a Rabbi utter the same spiel. (Maybe its a "vast right-wing conspiracy?).

Naturally, someone with a liberal or postmodern bent will read this and think that I'm "anti-Semitic and anti-Roman Catholic". Of course! That is why I used the word 'antichrist'! However, my "anti-" is not rooted in some irrational fear or morbid hatred; it is based squarily on my religious convictions that modern Jews (whatever brand) and Roman Catholics believe soul-damning doctrines. It's only fair: they, too, believe that there are soul-damning doctrines they should oppose (think: Nazi). Yet, this conviction does not necessitate taking their lives; rather it behooves us to bring the Gospel.

Because they live in an America that was created out of the fires of the post-Reformation era Puritans, both Jews and Roman Catholics are allowed to air their views. My only wish is that there were more Calvinists (the arch-nemesis of the Roman Church) with money to voice a contrary opinion--not just religiously (which would have a small radio audience indeed!)--but also politically! However, to at least even to begin to think in this direction requires a commitment to Calvinism and commitment against antichrist theology.

Alas, many of the modern Presbyterians (I cannot speak for our Reformed Baptist brothers) probably could not even sign on with our forefathers who declared in 1835 that the "Papacy [is] apostate from Christ, and no true Church." (p.248, notes from Dr. Bogue's class on WCF [from Assembly's Digest, 1886, p.789ff.).

I pray for a Reformation; our church prays for a Reformation. But God uses means and the first thing is to realize and know antichrist doctrine no matter who endorses it--be it our neighbor or our popular talk show hosts.