Saturday, May 31, 2008

A slight ammedment to the chart

Well, I have added a small postscript to the logical deductive chart proving that Rick Warren has denied (through his works) the Gospel, after my interaction with people on the CRN.(mis)info site. Here is it:

It may be objected that the to move from the premise "Roman Catholics who are in communion and faithfulness to Roman Catholicism represent Roman Catholicism, especially when they are doing something as Roman Catholics" to the intermediate conclusion "If a person affirms Roman Catholics as Roman Catholics in Roman Catholicism as brothers and sisters in Christ, when not under compulsion, then he/she believes that Roman Catholicism is a legitimate group" is invalid, and thus needing another premise along the lines of "Affirming someone of a religious sect, qua as being part of that sect, is a sufficient condition for evincing a belief in the complete propriety and total legitimacy of the religious sect, notwithstanding specific variations that inevitably occur between “legitimate and willing members” and the official doctrinal proclamations of the sect" is needed. To that, I can agree, and the reason why this is omitted is because this unwritten premise is a truism (which is self-evidently true). The idea here is that such an affirmation is not affirming the persons as human beings, men, women, Americans, Singaporeans or whatever these people may be, but as to their corporate identity/status as part of that group, which in this case refers to Roman Catholicism. Therefore, there is a world of difference between affirming Roman Catholics as human beings, as friendly neighbors, as kind colleagues and friends, as compared to as Roman Catholics. When you affirm them as Roman Catholics, then you are already talking about Roman Catholicism sans any reference to any other aspects of the individuals who are Roman Catholics, since all other references to the individuals are not affirmed here but only their Roman Catholicism. Therefore, the argument remains sound.

On the fire-storm going on over Chris R and Bob DeWaay's visit

I have been informed of the growing fire-strom primarily on Chris Rosebrough's blog after he publicly thanked Rick Warren for hosting him and Pastor Bob DeWaay at Saddleback and listen to their concerns over the PD paradigm. It seems that Warren invited many of his critics (not me however), and offered to pay for and host them at his conference at Saddleback Church, and afterwards hearing their concerns. Ingrid Schlueter declines the invitation along with a couple of others, but Chris Rosebrough and Bob DeWaay attended it.

The fire-storm was generated when, because of Chris' somewhat glowing thanks for Warren's hospitality, a couple of people decided to warn him because they knew of Warren's deceitfulness; of his playing the game of the Hegelian dialetics. Richard Abanes decided to pour oil onto the volatile situation, plus the ever-so-helpful destructive CRN.(mis)info added rocket fuel to the mix. The result is one big explosion, no thanks to these foxes who ruined the Vineyard (SoS 2:15), leaving a mess for us to pick up.

Anyway, first of all, it must be admitted that there is nothing wrong with going to Saddleback and calling upon Rick Warren to repent. That some may have decided not to do it like Ingrid is perfectly fine. But that others choose to do so is perfectly fine too. And there is nothing wrong wih thanking Rick Warren for being hospitable for that matter either.

The problem comes about when others would prefer a hardline approach to Rick Warren, and because they know of Warren's methods, are very wary of his kindness. That of course is a legitimate fear, for it is very easy to be disarmed by people's kindness into deception, myself included. After all, none of us like conflict. (And if you do, please do us a favor and go see a psychiatrist, or better still repent of such an attitude). The issue of being charitable then is conflated with the issue of diabolical dialetical deception, and therein lies the knotty situation we find ourselves in.

To untangle this mess, we should first of all remember some principles:

1) There is nothing wrong with praising someone (anyone) for something he did do which was good or right

Rick Warren may be many things, but he is not the devil. Ditto Richard Abanes. We must always not be too over-sensitive, as if anything praising Rick Warren does is de facto wrong, or Richard Abanes for that matter.

2) That said, we must be careful of our speech and mindful of the sheep

In this, I think Chris Rosebrough was not sensitive of the situation nor mindful of what may happen. As Rom. 14:21 says, we are not to do anything which causes our brethren to stumble. Knowing that many Christians are hurt and scarred by the PD paradigm, and knowing that the process by which the PD paradigm is introduced into churches is through the unbiblical and highly subversive change-management Transitioning techniques, it is my opinion that Chris should have taken all of these into account when he posted that post of his. Yes, it is wrong to wrongly infer that praise for Rick Warren on anything means that one is mesmorizeed by Rick Warren, but knowing the presence of such sensitization, shouldn't we not take that into account instead of just posting whatever we feel like posting?

Now, of course, this does not mean that we should all just gag ourselves out of fear of offending weaker brethren, but we can post disclaimers and put a damper onto what seems otherwise to be just exuberant praise. For example, you can make a short note that you still think Rick Warren has severely compromised the Gospel, even denying it, or something along those lines. Although that may not satisfy everybody, it would do much to alleviate much of the storm that is going on, and would not stumble our weaker brethren who are still hurt and wounded by the PD paradigm.

Another thing which Chris fails to do is to rebuke Richard Abanes. It was obvious that Abanes was instigating much of the heated exchange and bringing out the worst in others. And that is one reason why my blog has rules, and I do enforce then and moderate the comments. Our goal should be to edify the flock and not to contribute to confusion and an increase in animosity, and most definitely contribute to stumbling the flock. It is my opinion that Chris contributed to the mess by not commenting as he should and instead let the whole discussion take on a life of its own.

3) We should not second-guess others' intentions or motives, unless they are made explicit

Chris has been under-fire for not planning to publicly release the interactive session he and Pastor Bob DeWaay have with Rick Warren. This is regrettable. While it is good to release it publicly, it is not a sign of compromise if Chris decides NOT to release it. To think just because of that that Chris has drank the PD kool-aid is to second-guess his intentions, which is wrong. Of course, Chris is not above blame also, for reasons which are stated in section 2. Instead of just giving reasons which are probably valid, it is always good to assure people that you are still against the PD paradigm (as I am sure he still is), instead of just giving a "Trust me" answer, or worse still, invoke Mt. 18! And frankly speaking, those who have been hurt by the betrayal of the church leadership due to the PD paradigm are most definitely not assured by such an approach. Does Chris not know this to be the case? Does he not know that such an action ("Trust me" approach) will stumble the sheep who have probably witnessed the same tactic used by their leaders who betrayed them? Ditto the Mt. 18 verses which are distorted by these very same folks, and of which the mere mention of them wil set up alarms in anyone who faces the gag command found not only in the PD paradigm, but also in a lot of movements like the New Apostolic Deformation Reformation for example.

So this is the concern over the fire-storm over at Chris's site, and hopefully this should help us to untangle the mess and move on. We should remember also that Rick Warren, and Richard Abanes is not our main enemy but the pawns of the enemy; Satan is. We are to love them and desire their repentance and salvation, not to condemn them to hell.

Another thing which was quite interesting was Pastor Bob DeWaay's comments on his meeting made on his May 25th Sunday School Discussion, in which Pastor Bob said that he found that Rick and him shared essentially the same beliefs. Having looked at the PD paradigm, it is rather more accurate to say that Pastor Bob DeWaay shares the same beliefs as Rick Warren's professed beliefs. For orthodoxy (correct belief) should lead one to orthopraxy (correct living), and therefore for Rick Warren to continue his waywardness while professing Christian beliefs shows that his profession is not actually what he believes, otherwise he wouldn't do what he has indeed done. I'm sure even I can find myself professing many of the same beliefs that Rick Warren professes, but what use is it to merely profess the faith, rather than truly believing it? This then should be our concern and thus I think it would be better for Pastor Bob DeWaay to make this clear also.

So therefore, it is my hope that this would contribute to peace-making within the Christian community over this issue. May we continue to stand firm in the faith, and tak care not to stumble each other needlessly, for the glory of God alone. Amen.

What's wrong with preaching the gospel of Changed Lives?

I would like to talk more about this issue some time later, but for now, here is Chris Rosebrough's take on the idea of "Practical Christianity" in his review of the Evolve 08 conference, which is not by the way limited to Baptists churches but applies to many evengalical churches and movements even.

Evolve 08 conference part 2

Evolve 08 conference part 3

Songs: Count your blessings

I have been updating my song database as time affords, and have found this song which I would like to share here.

Count your blessings

Words: Johnson Oatman, Jr., 1987
Music: Edwin O. Excell

1:

When up on life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done

Chorus:

Count your blessings name them one by one;
Count your blessings see what God hath done;
Count your blessings name them one by one;
Count your many blessings see what God hath done.

2:

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings every doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.

3:

So amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged God is over all;
Count your many blessings angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

And in Chinese:

数算主恩

1:

有时遇见苦难如同大波浪,
有时忧愁丧胆几乎要绝望,
若把主的恩典从头数一数,
必能叫你惊讶立时乐欢呼。

副歌:

主的恩典样样都要数;
主的恩典都要记清楚;
主的恩典样样都要数;
必能叫你惊讶立时乐欢呼。

2:

有时挂念世事如同挑重担
有时背着十架觉着苦难堪
若数主的恩典疑惑即消除
必能叫你快乐立即赞美主。

3:

每逢遭遇战争不论大或小
不要丧胆因主早已得胜了;
深知主有恩典必甘愿辅助
安慰引导我们一直见天父。

For the chords, see here.

Quotable quote (7)

true reformers today are motivated primarily by theology and doxology and only afterward by more practical concerns.

- Richard D. Phillips, Turning Back the Darkness: The Biblical Pattern of Reformation, (Crossway Books, Wheaton, Il, USA, 2002), p. 141-142

Quotable quote (6): Be winsome and popular, or be truthful?

Few of us are eager to proclaim ourselves prophets, and yet is the duty of Christians — and especially of ministers in the church — to serve in the office of prophets, voicing truth from God's Word to the church. Yet there is a great principle of deformation that always opposes this calling, a principle that is especially influential in our own day. This is the idea that it is more important to be winsome, more excellent to be pleasing in the sight of men, regardless of what you do or say, than it is to guard and proclaim the truth of God. Just as in Jeremiah's day, the pragmatists and the lovers of the new and the allies of the world hate and attack the prophetic voice because it unsettles the people. "Your words mark you as a traitor," they said to Jeremiah, and so they still say today.

If there is one certainty in the Evangelical Movement today, it is that those who confront error and compromise, those who deliver bad though biblical news, just like those reformers the prophets, will be cast aide, will be mocked and abused, will be denied access to major media, will be ridiculed and marginalized, just as the prophets of old were put to death with stones and cast into cisterns. Indeed, as Jesus Himself lamented, this treatment of prophets is veritably the spectator sport of deformation history.

- Richard D. Phillips, Turning Back the Darkness: The Biblical Pattern of Reformation, (Crossway Books, Wheaton, Il, USA, 2002), p. 107-108

Friday, May 30, 2008

Beware Todd Bentley

I hesistate to place this post under the heading Charismatism, for I am sure Charismatics would denounce this even. But then, I may be wrong, and most definitely Charismatism has contributed to the foundation for the acting out of this abomination.

See these videos:

Demonic possession, yours to watch on Youtube:-

Todd Bentley: Messenger of God? — part 1

part 2

What possesses Todd Bentley?

Hear the demonic laughter of that madman, not to mention the shaking.

Bentley further told of how he was demon possessed after his salvation:

He claims to be delivered from the demons; I think rather that he has just traded one set of demons with another. Most certainly, he is not saved, as no true believer can be possessed by demons. Neither will true believers have demonic visions of being operated by and tormented.

Oh, and this just beats the cake! Bentley has his own ministry [of assault]. You know, the way to heal old ladies is to kick them in their faces with your biker boot. Yeah, right.

I feel a spirit of oppression just by looking at all these clips. Bentley is obviously demonically possessed, and it is saddening to see people with so little discernment as to think it is a work of God.

[HT: Defending.Contending, Truth Matters, Christian Research Service]

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Quotable quote (5): Presuming on God's blessing

God sent Jeremiah to confront the religious institutionalism that stood in the way of true worship of the Lord. This truly is a stunning message, because it takes place at the temple that God Himself had established for true religion, the dwelling-pace where His shekinah glory had once shone and where He had commanded the priests to make offerings to Him.

What was wrong, then, with the people's chant, "The temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD" [Jer. 7:4]? The problem was that the people were trusting simply in their great religious heritage, in the physical presence of the great temple, and because of this they gave no attention to turning their hearts to the Lord. The temple had been established to lead the people in worship of the Lord, not to be a substitute for God and for a living faith in Him ...

All this was revealed in the gross immorality of these would-be worshippers. The people were violating God's commandments with vigor, without a thought as to how it might affect their relationship with God, simply because they had the temple in their midst. ... The record of Jeremiah's era shows that it was not safe to do these detestable things — it is never safe for God's people to flout His laws — for God removed even a glorious institution like the temple when it was serving as a cover for godlessness, both in terms of truth and lifestyle.

This brings us a sober message to Christians in every era, but especially to our own age when so many are convinced of God's blessing regardless of our fidelity to His Word. How much of our religious confidence today is invested in institutions rather than in God — in this parachurch organization, in that college or seminary, in our denominations and even in our church buildings, good things that cease to be good when put in God's place. Yet none of our institutions compare to the spiritual glory of the temple of the Lord. God's people vigorously supported the alumni fund of the temple of the Lord. It was the temple they lauded, and on its very presence they trusted; but God was willing to tear the temple down when the people turned their hearts from Him to it. How much more willing is He, then, to take His Spirit from our midst and send our congregations and organizations into the spiritual exile that looms so near? (p. 99-100)

Shiloh looms before every faithless generation. Regardless of how impressive religious institutions are, when God abandons them they can be lost in a moment. Once our hearts have turned away from God, once we stop living in holy ways, once we seek not His approval through truth and godliness but rather seek the ABCs of worldly success, we stand in grave jeopardy of losing the things we have so fondly trusted in the place of God — our institutions and endowments and buildings and empires. When these are placed first, when success nudges aside what is faithful to God, then God may write Shiloh upon our churches and organizations, having delivered us over to the world we have loved. (p. 101)

- Richard D. Phillips, Turning Back the Darkness: The Biblical Pattern of Reformation, (Crossway Books, Wheaton, Il, USA, 2002).

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Quotable quote (4): Trust in God

Whenever God's people forget that salvation is by grace from an all-powerful God who is willing and able to meet all our needs, to protect us from all our foes, the inevitable result is an alliance with the world that proves costly through betrayal of the Lord. What choice do we have, people will say, their eyes fixed not on God in His power but on the powers arrayed against us in the world? We face the same choice given to the king [King Ahaz cf Is. 7] at the crossroads: whether or not to receive and keep the pattern of worship and service laid down by God in the Bible, looking to Him and relying on His power and ever-faithful love.

God gives us a choice; indeed, it is always this choice that more than any other defines a given age. In our choice of the invisible God or the visible powers of the world, we reveal not merely our professed theology but also our practiced theology. If we believe truly in the God of the Bible, the one who is mighty to save, then that choice will bear out in what we do and in the weapons we yield. The apostle Paul, speaking to another generation in difficult straits, set forth in practical terms what it means to trust God: "For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knoledge of God, and take every though captive to obey Christ" (2 Cor. 10:3-5)

- Richard D. Phillips, Turning Back the Darkness: The Biblical Pattern of Reformation, (Crossway Books, Wheaton, Il, USA, 2002), p. 88-89

Monday, May 26, 2008

Quotable quotes (3): The uselessness of pragmatism, or judging a movement by its pragmatic success

Of all the lessons Solomon provides, none is more relevant to our tme than one of the great levers of deformation — namely, the use of the pragmatic yardstick. To get at this, let me make one simple observation: Solomon engaged in the most heinous forms of idolatry. "Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites .... Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem" (1 Kings 11:5-7). Yet nowhere do we read that God removed His blessing from Solomon and his kingdom. Quite the contrary! The great summary of Solomon's reign comes just befor this record of his idolatry, but chronologically they overlap:

King Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom. And the whole earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God has put into his mind. Each one of them brought his present, articles of silver and gold, garments, myrrh, spices, horses, and mules, so much year by year —1 KINGS 10:23-25

All this time Solomon was being blessed abundantly beyond all imagination. Yet if we take this to be a divine endorsement of his actions and attitudes, we are sadly mistaken. Nonetheless, this is the kind of argument used to justify any number of unbiblical methods of church growth and success today. We hear this justification for the grossest abuses, the most blatant disregard for biblical teaching: "God seems to be blessing it" Use of the pragmatic yardstick instead of the biblical yardstick — what we think is right in terms of means and ends rather than what God has said is right — is one of the great and enduring principles of deformation.

- Richard D. Phillips, Turning Back the Darkness: The Biblical Pattern of Reformation, (Crossway Books, Wheaton, Il, USA, 2002), p. 58-59

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Weekly Meditations: Is. 8 (1)

Then the Lord said to me, “Take a large tablet and write on it in common characters, ‘Belonging to Maher-shalal-hash-baz.’ And I will get reliable witnesses, Uriah the priest and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah, to attest for me.”

And I went to the prophetess, and she conceived and bore a son. Then the Lord said to me, “Call his name Maher-shalal-hash-baz; for before the boy knows how to cry ‘My father’ or ‘My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be carried away before the king of Assyria.”

The Lord spoke to me again: “Because this people has refused the waters of Shiloah that flow gently, and rejoice over Rezin and the son of Remaliah, therefore, behold, the Lord is bringing up against them the waters of the River, mighty and many, the king of Assyria and all his glory. And it will rise over all its channels and go over all its banks, and it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass on, reaching even to the neck, and its outspread wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel.”

Be broken, you peoples, and be shattered; give ear, all you far countries; strap on your armor and be shattered; strap on your armor and be shattered. Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing; speak a word, but it will not stand, for God is with us.

(Is. 8:1-10)

Following on from the scene in Is. 7 whereby God through the prophet Isaiah offered wicked King Ahaz a sign, which he has wickedly rejected, God continued to reveal His ways and judgments to Isaiah against Judah and the other nations.

As this chapter begins, in verse 1, Isaiah was commanded to take a large tablet and write on it the prophecy regarding Judah and the other nations. First and foremost, Isaiah was to deed the tablet as belonging to his new son, Maher-shalal-hash-baz, who has not yet been born when he prepared the tablet. Not only was Isaiah to prepare the tablet, but he was to do so in the presence of reliable witnessess, Uriah the priest and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah (v. 2), thus making the tablet and its contents, and the deed, official and legal, therefore serving as a most visible reminder to Judah of the Word and Judgment of God. After doing that then did Isaiah went to his wife (the prophetess), and she conceived and bore him a son who was then called the exact name deeded on the tablet — Maher-shalal-hash-baz (v. 3).

Several things need to be mentioned here. We do know that the prophetess stated in verse 3 is Isaiah's wife because Isaiah as a godly man just don't go and sleep with anyone. (Even the prophet Hosea did not just sleep with Gomer; he married her first. David did commit adultary with Bathsheba and was punished most severely for his sin.) We here note that Isaiah's wife is stated as being a 'prophetess', although there are no recorded instances or proofs that she had prophesied in any particular capacity. In fact, she probably never prophesied at all. If such is the case, this just proves the intricate relationship between husband and wife as being of "one flesh" (Gen. 2:24) such that they share the honor together for serving God even though one may be more prominent and does all the (visible) work.

The next thing we would notice is that the LORD asked Isaiah to deed the large tablet to Maher-shalal-hash-baz (v. 2), yet even up to then, Isaiah did not know who Maher-shalal-hash-baz actually is or will be. Isaiah only knew who that would be when the LORD told him to name his son by that name. This shows forth Isaiah's humility and obedience before God even despite his ignorance of what this would be about. Oftentimes, therefore, we may not know why the Lord does things in certain ways, yet we should learn to trust God like Isaiah did, for in His own time He will make plain His most glorious plan.

The name Maher-shalal-hash-baz is translated in the ESV footnote as "The spoil speeds, the prey hastens", and is thus a prophecy and a sign against Israel and Syria, as well as Judah. Coupled with that deed makes his very presence as a person a message of condemnation against the wicked within Judah including King Ahaz. Verse 4 shows the reason for the sign of his name, as the Lord revealed that in a short period of time of 1 or 2 years, before this child could learn how to call his father and mother, both Israel and Syria would be wiped out and their wealth carried away by Assyria. Judgment would fall very swiftly against Ephraim and Syria, both of which are contented with their seemingly powerful confederate armies. Therefore, the spoils speeds, and the prey hastens. Destruction and desolation would thus come to these two nations very quickly.

And following this, Judah herself was not spared. The LORD proclaimed judgment against Judah by sending the Assyrian army against them also, though they will not be destroyed. The people of Judah has disregarded the LORD and his commands, which was symbolized by Shilo(a)h, the place where the people of Israel assembled with God during Joshua's time (Josh. 18:1), through the time of the judges unto Samuel the last judge (1 Sam. 3:21). Coupled with that is their rejoicing over wickedness and power and thus they coveted the might of the kings of Syria (Rezin) and Israel (the son of Remeliah) (v. 6). Such an interpretation can be seen as the waters of Shiloh are said to flow gently, thus indicating it is peaceful rather than with power and might (forceful). The gentle waters of Shiloah are then contrasted later with the mighty waters of Assyria (the Waters of the Great River Euphrates). Therefore, the wicked people of Judah are actually coveting military power and might rather than to trust in God's provision.

The judgment against Judah of course is that God will send the Assyrians to discipline them. Since they love military power and might, God will send them the military power and might of the powerful Assyrian Empire, against them. It is stated as a river rising over its channels and go over its banks, thus symbolizing destruction flowing out of it over the nations. It flows on like a flood against Judah, swarming and passing through her, even occupying the land (v. 8). Yet in God's great mercy, they will not wipe out Judah, as it only flows "to the neck", yet will distress her greatly.

The land is said to be Immanuel's land (v. 8ff), thus showing forth God's declaration of ownership over Israel. Even though Assyria may occupy the territory, yet God still reigns! From this, we can learn that even when all seems lost, we should remember that Christ is still head of the Church, spiritual Israel, and therefore He will defend her and purify her. All we have to do is just to pray, have faith and work towards the goal of reformation and revival, knowing that in the final analysis, we would most definitely be successful, since the war has already been won.

Verses 9 and 10 concludes God's proclaimation of judgments against the nations that stand in Assyria's path, who despise Israel. He calls upon them that they may continue to prepare and get ready for war, but it will led to their destruction. They are all doomed to failure regardless of what they do; regardless of how many wise counsels they may make. For God has ordained it to pass, and none can alter it. For they have set themselves against Judah and against God, and therefore all their plans will ultimately be to nought. For God is with us, Immanuel, therefore God will foil the plans of the enemies, even using a pagan power (the Assyrian Empire) to foil their plans. We therefore can rest assured that no matter how powerful and how crafty the enemies of the Cross are, God has His methods to foil their plans, even using a greater evil to do so.

With this, let us therefore lean to trust in God, which we shall look at in the second part of chapter 8

[to be continued]

Quotable quote (2)

The example of Saul, admired by men but rejected by God (1 Sam. 13:14), exhorts us to measure our success in the church not in terms of numbers or money or political strength — the kinds of things the Sauls of the wolds provide — but in the knowledge of God, in our devotion to Him, and in our holiness before the world.

- Richard D. Phillips, Turning Back the Darkness: The Biblical Pattern of Reformation, (Crossway Books, Wheaton, Il, USA, 2002), p. 51

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Quotable Quote

"I recently heard an older minister comment that he wasn't sure from his experience if it was true that the heavenly-minded are of less earthly value, but he has learned unfailing that those who are earthly-minded are never of any heavenly good at all."

"The first work of the church is always to teach about God and His great saving deeds. This must take precedence over every competing value, including the church's mandate to service and good deeds."

- Richard D. Phillips, Turning Back the Darkness: The Biblical Pattern of Reformation, (Crossway Books, Wheaton, Il, USA, 2002), p. 49

Slight response to CRN.(mis)info

Well, it seems that the "watcher of watchdogs" CRN.(mis)info has pounced upon my article showing logically why Rick Warren denies the Gospel, here. I find it very revealing that the only thing they can do is ridicule it; nobody has ever gotten down to attempt to seriously interact with and attempt to refute the argument. Oh well, perhaps they do not actually know how to think logically? After all, we ARE living in the irrational postmodern era, aren't we?

On a slightly different note, they linked to Chris Rosebrough who thanked Rick Warren for hosting him and Pastor Bob DeWaay and hearing their concerns over his PD paradigm. Somehow after reading Chris Rosebrough's article, I do not see what CRN.(mis)info is insinuating he is doing. Chris is NOT considering both sides of the story, if by that you mean he is willing to play the game of Hegelian dialetics. Neither is what will come out of it a dialogue. Rather, it is an attitude of hearing out the other person, then evaluating based on the Objective Unchanging Truth of Scripture, which we all do. I do not want to comment on the attitudes of the commentors on Chris Rosebrough's post there, except to say that it is revealing how Richard Abanes and CRN.(mis)info can judge those people. But oh, it is so wrong for them to judge people like Rick Warren. Can someone say Hypocrite!?

Response to agaricus on SDA-ism

This is a response to agaricus who is a professed Seventh -Day Adventist (SDA) over at Isaiah's blog on 'Church-ianity'. I have queried her regarding whether she believes in two of SDA's distictive beliefs; namely the doctrine of 'Investigative Judgment' and the 'Heavenly Sacntuary', and to that she replied in the affirmative. I then asked various question regarding the compatibility of such beliefs to biblical Christianity, and this is her response:

Daniel, You have raised several interesting points in your queries above. From what I can understand, there are essentially three questions:

1) The Investigative Judgment and Salvation by Grace; 2) The Heavenly Sanctuary and Christ’s perfect atonement; and 3) Apostasy within the church.

Questions 1 and 2 are related, as the doctrines of the Investgative Judgment (”IJ”) and Heavenly Sanctuary (”HS”) are inseparable from each other. Before I get around to answering your question directly, I will first explain to you what these SDA doctrines are, and how they are derived.

IJ essentially is a judgment of all who have ever claimed Christ, to separate true believers from mere professers. The IJ takes place in respect of every believer who has lived, and who is currently living, in this world - up to the close of probation. It is seen as the fulfilment of Old Testament typology in the sanctuary service. In particular, it is seen as the antitype of the Day of Atonement which was one of the most significant observances of the old Hebrew calendar.

Under the old covenant, the high priest would enter the Most Holy Place with the blood of an animal slain as a sin offering, and offer that blood in addition to sweet incense, to atone for the sins of the nation committed during the antecedent year. The blood of a sin offering, as I think you will agree, was a type which met its antitypical fulfilment in the blood of Christ, sacrificed upon the cross. That Christ is our High Priest may be found in the writings of Paul in Heb 7:25 - 27, and Heb 8: 1 & 2. In Heb 9, Paul writes further, in the context of the Day of Atonement, and states that Christ has “by his own blood… entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” See also Heb 9:22 - 24. This parallels the function of the OT high priest, who entered the Most Holy Place both to make atonement for the sins of the nation (literal Israel), as well as to seek the pardon of God for all who believed. But there is something else. If you look at the observances enjoined upon the people for this day, it is plain that the people were called to repentance and confession of every sin. A period of fasting preceded the Day of Atonement in which the children of Israel were meant to confess all their sins before God, and ‘afflict their souls’ in preparation for the solemn event. Grave sentences were pronounced against those who would not come humbly before God.

In the same way, Christ our High Priest stands before the Father in the Most Holy Place of the tabernacle above, the one “true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man,” His blood the offering for sin, interceding for the sinner before the Heavenly Father. Just as the Israelites were to look by faith to the remission of sins through the shedding of animal blood, typifying the coming Messiah, so Christians are to look by faith to forgiveness of their sins and justification through the blood and merits of Christ. The parallel carries further: inasmuch as the Day of Atonement solemnly called the nation of Israel to repentance, so is spiritual Israel called also to repentance - and to bearing the fruit of repentance - before God. There can be no forgiveness without repentance. Therefore the IJ is as much about separating the tares from the wheat, as it is about wiping the slate clean for those who have truly repented, and cast themselves entirely upon the grace of Christ in accepting His salvation.

The next question is, does the Bible teach that there is actually a phase of judgment such as the IJ? My answer would be ‘yes’. Matt 13:30 - 50 makes it clear that a separation of true believers from mere professors must take place at the end. Matt 22:10 - 14 is another parable with a similar import. Furthermore, before God hands down a sentence or executes judgment, He always investigates the facts of the case, even though He already knows everything. First He searches hearts, then He rewards. Examples would be the manner in which the Lord dealt with Adam and Eve, and His conversation with Cain after the latter pretty much clobbered Abel to death; also in how the Lord “came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded” at Babel, and again in pronouncing judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah: “The Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.” Rev 2:23 is a reiteration of this pattern.

Taking a look at the parable of the wedding in Matt 22, notice how the king first took a look at the guests assembled, and cast out the one who did not come properly dressed, before the party started. Spiritual Israel is referred to very often in Scripture as being the ‘bride of Christ’. Hence the wedding parable can be interpreted as follows: Christ conducts an ‘inspection parade’ before He comes to take his Bride home (the wedding). Daniel 7 provides additional support for this view: see Dan 7:9 - 14. In those verses, it is clear that a judgment occurs before “dominion, and glory, and a kingdom” are given to Christ.

Putting all this together, what we have is a picture of Christ as Intercessor and High Priest, ministering for those who claim His name. Those who have trusted to His blood for their salvation, and have demonstrated a living faith in their works (faith without works is dead, remember), are adjudged righteous and their names entered into the Book of Life. Those who profess belief in Christ but who yet see no need of reform, or of obedience to the just claims of God’s law, fall short. The command of God is the same today as it was in the days of the children of Israel: obey, and live.

Coming directly now to your query: does the doctrine of an IJ conflict with that of salvation by faith alone? Well - that depends on what you mean by ‘faith alone’. If you mean a real, living, Spirit-filled faith that claims unceasingly the Perfect Sacrifce of Christ and throws itself entirely on His merits, and which evidences itself in loving submission and obedience to the laws of God and which bears the fruit of the Spirit, then my answer is that there is no conflict. God is simply ‘checking to see’ if your faith hath wrought with works, and if “by works was [your] faith made perfect.”

But if by ‘faith alone’ you are referring to a nminal belief that Christ is the Son of God, and that He died to take away my sin, but to which belief the life does not bear witness, then my answer is, “Thou believest… thou does well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”

I think the second part of your question, as regards the completeness of Christ’s atonement, may be answered in the following way. Heb 9:27 and 28 plainly state that there is a judgement. What is described therein as being ‘complete’ is the ACT of atonement, by way of sacrifice, in that Christ was “once offered to bear the sins of many”. It does not necessarily follow therefrom that the other aspect of atonement, viz. the high priestly aspect as alluded to repeatedly by Paul in his writings, is already complete or that such does not exist.

Now to your question regarding the SDA view of apostasy within the church.

Let me state for the record that I do not, and have not, ever looked down my nose at any non-SDA Christian as being an ‘apostate’. Apostasy occurs when you know something to be the truth, when you know that God demands XYZ of you, and you wilfully close your eyes to the light and wilfully continue ‘as you were’, thus denying the truth and grieving the Holy Spirit of God. That is Apostasy. You can be a Catholic, and be a perfectly sound Christian - as long as you are living up to all the light that you have. Similarly, you can be a Protestant - an Adventist even! - and a complete apostate because lip service, not heart service, is all that you’re willing to pay to God.

The Adventist view of apostasy in the church is simple. Any church that claims the Bible as the foundation of all its precept and doctrine, and yet which fails to teach, uphold, preach, and declare the Law of God as immutable, holy, just, and a transcript of His perfect character, and to exhort its members to do the same, and which fails to trust in the blood and merits of Christ as our only Surety, Mediator, Intercessor and Saviour; and which allows the teachings of men and tradition to supersede that which God has delivered in Holy Writ, or which teaches that grace and salvation are obtainable by works or purchase, or that there is any other way to the Father than through Christ, is an Apostate church.

In this light, looking at the 10 commandment law of God, and particularly at the Fourth commandment which enjoins upon Mankind the keeping of God’s Sabbath holy, if a church were to teach that the Sabbath has been ’set aside’, superseded by another day of the week, unnecessary of observance, irrelevant or that it has the authority to change God’s holy day of rest, or that it ‘does not matter which day you keep, as long as you keep one out of 7′, then that church has apostasized from the truth. Just as there can be no other foundation than that which God has laid for the church in Christ Jesus, and just as the Scriptures and all they contain are to be the sole rule of faith and practice, the Law of God is to be the sole standard by which the actions of man are judged. God has only one Law, and that Law is unchanging.

Let me put it this way: if you were to come across a church that taught that the commandment against graven images was a thing of the past, something under the ‘old dispensation’, wouldn’t that teaching strike you as apostate? Or if there was a church which taught that, say, honouring one’s parents was simply unnecessary, or that the need to do so had been overruled by the church, wouldn’t you immediately decry that church as being in a state of apostasy?

As far as I know, no Protestant denomination actually teaches that Sunday is THE Sabbath, or that Sunday is THE day of worship mandated by Scripture, or that the church has the authority to change the Law of God. Historically, however, there have been many leaders of mainline Protestant denominations who acknowledge that there is not one shred of Scripture that points to a change having been made in the law of God as regards the Sabbath. These admit that the Sabbath is Saturday - and not Sunday. Yet the churches they led still keep to Sunday as opposed to Saturday, and the justification given is that this is due to the ‘long tradition of the church’. Sadly, obedience to tradition - however long established - is not a substitute for obedience to the Law of God.

Which brings me back to what I was saying in my earlier comment: if one is given light on the Sabbath issue and is convinced as to the necessity of the Sabbath, and its continued claims upon humanity, then one is obliged to heed the call and obey. A church may, through the rejection of what it knows to be the plain truth, apostasize, but that does not make all its members inherent apostates: we are not saved (or condemned) by virtue of which church we belong to. It is the faith of the individual in Christ and His atonement, and their living by whatever light they have been given, that matters. People are saved (and lost) individually, not corporately.

As to the matter of Sabbathkeeping in the greater context of salvation, Adventists believe that the last great conflict in which people will have to choose once and for all whom they will serve, will be between obedience to an institution set up by God (i.e. the Sabbath) and the keeping of the commandments of man (in the form of a universal Sunday law). Without going into the specifics, we believe that the testing truth for the last days will see people either casting their lot fully on the LOrd’s side - or not. Before that happens, the truth about the Sabbath will already have gone out fully to the world, so that it is without excuse. Serving the Lord requires a ten out of ten commitment - not nine out of ten.

First of all, I must congratulate agaricus for being consistent in her profession. She claims to be an SDA, and she can indeed articulate what she was taught to believe. Yet, this response is indeed worrisome.

It can be of course immediately seen that such an articulation of SDA doctrine is an evangelicalized version, for historical SDA doctrine is not indeed formulated in such a manner, as we shall see as we respond to agaricus now.

First of all, regarding 1) IJ and Justification by Faith Alone & 2) the Heavenly Sanctuary, agaricus said:

Those who have trusted to His blood for their salvation, and have demonstrated a living faith in their works (faith without works is dead, remember), are adjudged righteous and their names entered into the Book of Life. Those who profess belief in Christ but who yet see no need of reform, or of obedience to the just claims of God’s law, fall short. The command of God is the same today as it was in the days of the children of Israel: obey, and live.

This here demonstrates a confusion between faith and works. Is the contention here that faith must be demonstrated before a person can be saved? Is Salvation conditioned on a demonstration of faith? How about the dying thief on the Cross next to Jesus who believed in Him?

Also, to think that when the Bible in Mt. 13:30-50 teaches Investigative Judgment is wrong both exegetically and historically. Historically, that is NOT what is meant by the doctrine of Investigative Judgment. Reading up the history of SDA-ism, the doctrine of Investigative Judgment is linked to the fact that William Miller and Ellen White got it wrong when the date (in 1843) on which they 'prophesied' that Jesus would come back passed without the Second Coming actually occurring. Therefore, the doctrines of Investigative Judgment and the Heavenly Sanctuary were invented to explain away the failures of Miller's prediction. Investigative Judgment historically meant that at that date which Miller predicted, Jesus decided to come spiritually in 1843 to investigate the state of the Church in Judgment. And such a judgment was based upon the works of Christians, not upon faith at all.

Exegetically, that passage, and many others like it which you quoted, teaches us about God's Judgment at the Second Coming of Christ, and therefore is about whether a person truly believes in Christ or not. Yes, there is works mentioned, yet works are mentioned not as meritorious towards salvation, but as evidences of salvation, a Scriptural teaching taught in such passages such as Rom. 4:2-5.

From what has been said so far, you seem to be confused about faith and works; justification and sanctification. Again, we are not talking about living the Christian life here, but the issue is whether faith alone apart from any consideration of works saves. Your answer seems to be no, for you have factored in works as being evidences of salvation without which you cannot be saved. Yet, Rom. 4:5 refutes your position entirely. Works are never considered for salvation at all, either a priori or a posteriori. As it is written, "The Just (Righteous) shall live by faith" (Rom. 1:17; Hab. 2:4). We are not saved by faith working itself in good works, but by faith alone apart from any prior or posterior consideration of good works.

My brother Vincent quoted in a comment SDA's Uriah Smith's words concerning the Gospel:

“The whole object of Christ’s work for us is to bring us back to the law, that its righteousness may be fulfilled in us by our obedience, and that when we at last stand beside the law, which is the test of the judgment, we may appear as absolutely in harmony with it, as if we had never belonged to a sinful race who had trampled it in the dust.”

“There is a righteousness we must have, in order to see the kingdom of heaven, which is called ‘our righteousness’; and this righteousness comes from being in harmony with the law of God.”

If such is indeed correct; that "The whole object of Christ’s work for us is to bring us back to the law, that its righteousness may be fulfilled in us by our obedience", then how do you explain the Scriptures when it is written

For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Gal. 3:10-11)

Note the words "rely on works of the law", yet the SDA position seems to be Christ's work is to bring us back to the Law. So how can this be?

With regards to the doctrine of the Heavenly Sanctuary, I think I will just quote from a book review I did which touches on this topic here:

The doctrine of the "Sanctuary" is based on a literalistic reading of the Old Testament ceremonial rites and rituals into the New Testament book in general and Hebrews in particular. Instead of the correct interpretation which has been held for Christians for centuries that the book of Hebrews is an exercise in contrast between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, and that the New Covenant priesthood of Christ is something which denotes the atoning sacrifice of Christ only, the Adventists read the entire book backwards. Instead of reading the Old Testament in light of the New, they read the Old into the New Testament, even to the details of the heavenly "Holy Place" being distinct from the heavenly "Most High" place. This technique places the Adventists already on very shaky ground for their doctrines, since it is written that the earthly high priests of the Old Covenant on earth serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things (Heb. 8:5). We should interpret what is the copy of and the shadow of anything using what is said to be clear of that thing, and thus the Old Covenant should be interpreted according to the New Covenant, and not the other way around.

The Achilles' heel of the Adventist's doctrine of their "Sanctuary" lies in their artificial distinction of the ministry of Christ as being intercessor in the first part of His ministry in the "Holy Place" of the heavenly sanctuary, and then after 1844, begin his work of judgment in the "Investigative Judgment" in the "Most Holy" place. If such a distinction and differentiation is disproved, the doctrines of the "Sanctuary" and of the "Investigative Judgment" (which depends on the validity of the doctrine of the "Sanctuary") would be proven to be in error.

The first most obvious point to note in the book of Hebrews is obviously the lack of any differentiation of "apartments" in the heavenly sanctuary. The nearest thing to different "apartments" can be seen in Heb. 9: 1-10. However, they only dealt with the earthly rituals of the priests under the Old Covenant, not that of Jesus of the New Covenant. If one goes down the text even further, we can see the passage which destroys the entire Adventists' position:

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves, but by means of His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. (Heb. 9:11-12. Bold added)

Earlier in the text, it can be seen that only the High Priest can enter the Most Holy Place and he does it by offering blood to atone for the his sins and the unintentional sins of others (v. 7). In the passage quoted above, Jesus is said to be the High Priest, and he entered into the holy places (plural), which could probably include the "Most Holy Place" if there is any. Most damaging to the Adventist position is that Jesus has offered His own blood, which do in fact signifies that He did entered the "Most Holy Place" apartment if it did existed as a separate entity. However, as we have seen before, the Scriptures do not make such an artificial distinction but instead just use the more generic term "holy places", since Jesus went through both "holy places" in order to pay for the sins of His own. In fact, the fact that Jesus was said to secure an eternal redemption by His blood shows that the purpose of entering the holy places and the "Most Holy Place" in the heavenly tabernacle is linked to the doctrine of the Atonement.

Earlier in this same article, I have quoted from the Adventists' website on what they believe, which I shall reproduce here:

24. Christ's Ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary: There is a sanctuary in heaven, the true tabernacle which the Lord set up and not man. In it Christ ministers on our behalf, making available to believers the benefits of His atoning sacrifice offered once for all on the cross. He was inaugurated as our great High Priest and began His intercessory ministry at the time of His ascension. In 1844, at the end of the prophetic period of 2300 days, He entered the second and last phase of His atoning ministry. It is a work of investigative judgment which is part of the ultimate disposition of all sin, typified by the cleansing of the ancient Hebrew sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. In that typical service the sanctuary was cleansed with the blood of animal sacrifices, but the heavenly things are purified with the perfect sacrifice of the blood of Jesus. The investigative judgment reveals to heavenly intelligences who among the dead are asleep in Christ and therefore, in Him, are deemed worthy to have part in the first resurrection. It also makes manifest who among the living are abiding in Christ, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and in Him, therefore, are ready for translation into His everlasting kingdom. This judgment vindicates the justice of God in saving those who believe in Jesus. It declares that those who have remained loyal to God shall receive the kingdom. The completion of this ministry of Christ will mark the close of human probation before the Second Advent. (Heb. 8:1-5; 4:14-16; 9:11-28; 10:19-22; 1:3; 2:16, 17; Dan. 7:9-27; 8:13, 14; 9:24-27; Num. 14:34; Eze. 4:6; Lev. 16; Rev. 14:6, 7; 20:12; 14:12; 22:12.) (Source)

My question to agaricus then is: Why is this not promoting the error of works-righteousness? Does Jesus investigate on the basis of our works and decided then who will go to heaven on the basis of what he finds? How does this then impact us about the doctrine of God's omniscience also?

Next, we would look at the final topic: that of the apostasy of the Church.

In this, we are encouraged by agaricus' response that she does not look down on any non-SDA Christian as being an 'apostate'. Most certainly, this is a deviation from traditional SDA beliefs however. After all, that was one of the reasons SDA was considered a cult during the 19th century, because they denounced ALL denominations as being apostate (mainly because they worship on Sunday instead of Saturday), and this is a historical fact.

However, agaricus here seems to be espousing inclusivism. After all, what does she mean when she says that "You can be a Catholic, and be a perfectly sound Christian - as long as you are living up to all the light that you have. " What 'light' is here being mentioned? Christianity is NOT based upon how much 'light' you are living up to, but whether the Gospel is present and believed! If a person, group or denomination believes the Gospel, they are Christian; conversely if they don't, they are not Christian, even though they 'lived up to all the light that they have'. As the apostles John says:

Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. ... Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 Jn. 5:10, 12)

I only see God using the Gospel as a criteria for salvation, not the amount of 'light they are livng up to'.

With regards to the Sabbath issue, the only thing I will say here is: Since when was obedience to the Sabbath a salvation issue? Furthermore, whence comes this insistence on Saturday as the Sabbath? Surely, agaricus should know the reason why Sunday was made the Christian Sabbath, and this was NOT because of the Roman Catholic church (which didn't exist at all during the time of the early church). Go read Mt. 28:1, Mk. 16:2, Lk. 24:1, Jn. 20:1 to see the reason why. Fact is, Sunday was made the Christian Sabbath because Jesus rose on Sunday, the first day of the Jewsish week, and this is found in Scripture. Agaricus said that she does not know of any Protestant denomination that actually teaches that Sunday is the Sabbath. Well, I got news for you. All Reformed and Presbyterian denominations (as well as Particular and Reformed Baptists) who do talk about the Sabbath believe in that. In the Wesminster Confession of Faith for example, it is stated:

VII. As it is of the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in his Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him: which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week; and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which in Scripture is called the Lord's Day, and is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath (WCF Chapter XXI Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath day)

My only contention with regards to the strict Sabbatarians is that they make the keeping of Sunday as the Sabbath an obedience issue, whereas my position is that Sunday should be ideally kept as the Sabbath, but the more important principle of keeping one day out of seven as a day of rest should be adhered to when keeping Sunday as the Sabbath is impossible (for example, for pastors who are busy preaching etc on Sundays).

So in conclusion, while it is important to obey God, let us not make obedience a condition for our salvation. And therefore to agaricus, it is hoped that you will see the light and amend your beliefs accordingly. For to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Paul Washer on the Gospel/ Total Depravity

Excellent message on what it means when the Scriptures say that Man is sinful.

[HT: Christian Research Net]

Monday, May 19, 2008

Best closing statement for Calvinism and the Gospel

[HT: Lane's blog, Aomin.org]

Weekly Meditations: Is. 7 (2)

Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted. The Lord will bring upon you and upon your people and upon your father's house such days as have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah — the king of Assyria.”

In that day the Lord will whistle for the fly that is at the end of the streams of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria. And they will all come and settle in the steep ravines, and in the clefts of the rocks, and on all the thornbushes, and on all the pastures.

In that day the Lord will shave with a razor that is hired beyond the River—with the king of Assyria—the head and the hair of the feet, and it will sweep away the beard also.

In that day a man will keep alive a young cow and two sheep, and because of the abundance of milk that they give, he will eat curds, for everyone who is left in the land will eat curds and honey.

In that day every place where there used to be a thousand vines, worth a thousand shekels of silver, will become briers and thorns. With bow and arrows a man will come there, for all the land will be briers and thorns. And as for all the hills that used to be hoed with a hoe, you will not come there for fear of briers and thorns, but they will become a place where cattle are let loose and where sheep tread. (Is. 7: 10-25)

In the first part of Is. 7, the prophet Isaiah was sent to pass a message to the wicked king Ahaz of Judah to inform him that the combined armies of Israel (Ephraim) and Syria would not succeed. After Isaiah prophesied the failure of the confederate campaign, the LORD continued to speak through Isaiah's prophecies, which we shall look at now.

The LORD in His mercy and kindness called upon the wicked king Ahaz to ask of God a sign (v. 10-11). This sign could be as deep as Sheol (Hell) or high or heaven, two extremes which symbolizes everything. In other words, God is telling Ahaz that He is willing to give any sign to him. From this, we can see the kindness of God even to the wicked calling for their repentance, even sending His Word to them to aid them and send offers of signs. The wicked king Ahaz however spurned God's offer under the guise of piety (v. 12); of not willing to "put God to the test". God therefore through Isaiah call upon Judah, asking them whether they think that wearying men is not enough for them such that they must weary God even (v. 13). God then proceeds to give Ahaz and Judah a sign, even though Ahaz rejected it due to his unbelief, and what a sign it will be.

Verse 14 of Is. 7 is one of the Messianic prophecies uttered in the Old Testament, as God has decided to give this sign for Israel in the midst of their unbelief, and what a prophecy it will be. The prophecy is that of the birth of the Messiah who will be called Immanuel — God with us — through his conception and bearing by a virgin. Such a supernatural event is to be a sign unto Israel, and will show forth God's presence among them to help them and aid them in their times of distress.

Before we apply this verse, a note must be said about the translation of the Hebrew for 'virgin', almah. The origianal word just mean 'young woman; maiden', though it must be noted that its usage in Scripture is always limited to young, unmarried women who are virgins. The translation to virgin is most definitely correct here, notwitstanding the liberal error which causes the word in the RSV for this verse to be translated as 'young woman'. For if it just refers to young women, the sign makes utterly no sense, for how can the fact that any woman conceive, no matter how young, be a sign unless it is not a natural conception?

And so the sign is proclaimed, which God will fulfil in His time and as a sign to Israel, when Jesus Christ was born of the virgin Mary. Jesus came as Immanuel, and he came to offer true peace to His people, who were also physically under distress. Of course Jesus came to offer them true spiritual peace (aid) which they understood not, but nonetheless the true Israel, the remnant of physical Israel, would embrace Christ. And this priviledge is expanded to the world, where God in Christ begin to open up the Kingdom of heaven to Man from every nation, tribe and tongue, starting from the time of Pentecost.

Now, it may be asked if this sign was to have a double fulfilment, a 'mini-fulfilment' then foreshadowing its true fulfilment in Jesus Christ, seeing as to how it is supposed to a sign to King Ahaz. However, this cannot be the case, for any true virgin birth then would undermine the uniqueness of Jesus' own virgin birth, and furthermore how can a mere mortal be called Immanuel? The sign was initially called upon for King Ahaz to ask of, yet his refusal resulted in the sign being given to Israel/Judah in general (v. 13). And God has never said that the sign must be fulfilled by Him now, but that this is sign functions rather as a promise to the remnant within Israel/Judah that God will one day send a Messiah to aid them in their distress.

Verses 15-16 are much more difficult to exegete, seeing that they seem to be linked to verse 14 yet it seems to be talking about the events happening in the near future. Verse 15 tells of the a boy eating curds and honey when he knows how to 'refuse the evil and choose the good'. And verse 16 through the use of the word 'for' (ki) links up verse 16 to verse 15, and it states that before the boy 'knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good', the two kingdoms attacking Judah now will be deserted and thus they have been destroyed as a nation. Of course, the defeat of these two kings occurred in Isaiah's and Ahaz's lifetime, and therefore this seems strange. John Calvin for example in his commentary of this passage chose to take the view that verse 15 refers to Christ, following on from verse 14, while verse 16 takes on a new subject matter (the boy here refering to Isaiah's son Shear-jashub who was bought to meet King Ahaz earlier - verse 3). Matthew Henry took the same position also. So they mention that through verse 15, Jesus' humanity can be seen.

I disagree however with those views. On reason of course is that verse 16 through the use 'for (ki) links that verse with verse 15. A more fundamental problem however lies in the fact that the boy in verse 15 is stated as having a stage whereby he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, and certainly how can it be said that there was a time in Jesus' life whereby He does not know how to refuse the evil and choose the good? Therefore, it is my view that verse 15 and 16 refers to Isaiah's young son Shear-jashub who function as an immediate sign to King Ahaz. So therefore, Isaiah proclaims that before his own son grew up to become more discerning (to know how to refuse the evil and choose the good), both Ephraim and Syria would be wiped out as nations (v. 16). Furthermore, when he matures enough to do that, he shall 'eat curds and honey' (v. 15), which refers to the fact that only such food are available during such a time, and the reason why we will look at in later verses.

Verse 17 starts the prophesying of disaster upon wicked King Ahaz, whom God knows has already called on Assyria for help. God calls forth to mind the spector of the worst disaster in the history of Judah so far — the day that the ten northern tribes split from the kingdom of the house of David — and states that He the LORD will bring forth worse calamities upon Judah, and the king of Assyria would be its cause. This is indeed judgment upon King Ahaz for his unbelief and his dependence on Assyria to help him against Ephraim and Syria, of which fact God does indeed knows. Verse 18 calls forth in the agents of judgment Judah would get, which is also their "just reward" for meddling around in International Politics when God has not called them to. Both Egypt and Assyria would hence forth fight for dominance over this region, and Judah would be ravaged in the process. The Egyptians and Assyrians are stated as settling in steep ravines, clefts of the rock, thornbushes and on all pastures (v. 19), which depict them as taking over the territory and being tenacious in their occupation of the land. Verse 20 shows the judgment of God against King Ahaz in particular and against Judah in general, as God will use the King of Assyria to punish them as like a razor. It is likened to a razor because God is using him to inflict humiliation and defeat (head, hair of the feet, and bear also), yet not to destroy Judah. It is hired because the king os Assyria most certainly did not yield to obedience to God to do His will, and therefore the LORD uses him as if hired since he did not submit himself willingly to God.

We end with verses 21-25 which tells of the economic hardship and yet God's provision during this time of judgment. On the one hand, verses 23 tells of the loss of agricultural products and that wildness will overrun the land, thus making once cultivated land into wild areas for hunting (v. 24). Yet on the other hand, God's provision is manifested as those who are still alive will have enough to eat, though perhaps not what they would like to have. Such provision is likened to a man keeping alive a young cow and two sheep (v. 21), who then derived his food from them as they produce much milk (v. 22) to make curds, and therefore they would eat curds and honey. Verse 25 shows God's provision too, that though the land is desolate and devastated, yet the land could still be used for rearing of cows and sheep, and therefore Judah would not starve.

Remembering verse 15, it can be seen therefore that what Isaiah was prophesying was that such a desolation of the land caused by Assyria (and Egypt) would come about as his own son mature in knowing 'how to refuse the evil and choose the good', and therefore not very far off in the future. Such therefore is the sober judgment rendered upon wicked King Ahaz for his unbelief and rebellion against God in procuring Assyria's aid.

In conclusion therefore, as we looked upon this passage, let us not follow the example of King Ahaz, of despising God's grace and kindness to him but instead rely on Man. While such a solution would indeed help you for a time, God will see to it that your solution will cause you much more harm in the future. Let us therefore trust in God in whatever we do and not create our own solutions, which may prove detrimental in the future. Remember also Abraham's 'experiment' with Ishmael and the harm it caused, and continue to cause.

Scanned article...

I have just scanned an article (with some markings) into my computer which I would like to share here. The article is from the charismatic Festival of Priase (FOP) magazine for that year of 2000, written by Canon James Wong when he was still the President of FOP. At that time, I was still sortof a Charismatic, and had went for FOP2000 (was it Hillsongs then?) Anyway, when I read this then, I was upset over the type of illogic and demeaning of evangelicals in this article of his, even though I would at that time consider myself a Charismatic. After all, coming from a more conservative Presbyterian background, I still had emotional ties with non-charismatic evangelicalism, and Canon Wong came across as insulting all of them as denying/not having the Holy Spirit and as having "no power in their evangelism and service". This is not to mention his misquoting of bible verses as supporting such blatent biblical errors such as "baptism in the Holy Spirit with the initial evidences of speaking in other tongues", which even then I realize that it is wrong to make tongues THE evidence of baptism in the Holy Spirit. In fact, it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that this article have an opposite effect on me in that I was put off by what I saw as the arrogance of "extreme Charismatism" then, and thus while I was sortof Charismatic, I was never a full-fledged one; always having some sort of anchor to non-charismatic evangelicalism despite my forays into first the Charismatic and then the Third Wave Neo-Apostolic movements (which incidentally led me further and further away from God, even experientially).

I would be interacting with the paper probably sometime later, but for now, you may read the eisegetical article written by Canon James Wong here:

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P.S.: There was another issue which severely troubled me back then. Anyone wants to venture a guess?

Logical deductive proof that Rick Warren denies the Gospel

Well, it seems that with certain Warrenites and especially Warren apologist Richard Abanes, they are so blind that hard evidence must be smacked right into their faces before they could perhaps begin to see that Rick Warren has denied the Gospel and is a heretic and apostate. To this end, I have produced a (hopefully) water-tight deductive argument to prove the case (that Rick Warren has denied the Gospel), judging from his affirmation of Roman Catholism, and Roman Catholics as Roman Catholics in Roman Catholicism, as brothers and sisters in Christ. So here is it:

Logical Deductive argument for Rick Warren's compromise and denial of the Gospel

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Article: Christ-Church = Husband-Wife

Here is an excellent article on the practical theological points deduced from the biblical analogy between Christ and the Church, and between husbands and wives. Sortof tied up quite a bit of loose ends hanging around my head on this subject too.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Excerpts: The Closing of the American Mind

I have just finished reading the book by Allan Bloom entitled The Closing of the American Mind, and yes, it is rather dated, but the arguments against the New Liberalism are still valid. This book shows how the irrational, anti-logical nihilistic anti-philosophy of Friedrich Nietzshe and Martin Heidderger (early 20th century) paved the way for the near total collapse of Western culture and liberal education, and hints at its further workings through the emergence of its logical outflow, Postmodernism (cf Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida) in the late 20th century. Society then virtually self-destructs in our modern age as the poison of Postmodernism corrodes the entire society from the inside out. Allan Bloom himself is not a Christian though, and he obviously does not think too highly of religion (but of course he thinks more highly of them then the secularists do). In older times, Bloom would be considered a (Old-time) Liberal, but with the rise of the Nietzscheanized Left, he is considered a Conservative, maybe even at the Right.

Nevertheless, let us proceed with some of the very interesting quotes from this bok of his.

[On the influence of early 20th century German philosophy in America, and through them the world]

I do not believe any of these professors noticed the darker side of Freud and Weber, let alone the Nietzsche-Heidegger extremism lying beneath the surface. Or rather, if they did notice, they found it of autobiographical rather than scientific interest. It is amazing to me that the irrational source of all conscious life in Freud, and the relativity of all values in Weber, did not pose a problem for them and their optimism about science. Freud was very dubious about the future of civilization and the role of reason in the life of man. He certainly was not a convinced advocate of democracy or equality. And Weber, much more thoughtful than Freud about science, morals and politics, lived in an atmosphere of permanent tragedy. His science was formulated as a doubtful dare against the chaos of things, and values certainly lay beyond its limits. This is what the very precarious, not to say imaginery, distinction between facts and value meant. Reason in politics leads to the inhumanity of bureaucracy. ... Calculating reaons would end up in dried-up, heatless and souless administration of things without community-forming and sustaining values; feelings would lead to selfish indulgence in superficial pleasures; political commitment would likely foster fanaticism, and it was questionable whether there was enough value-positing energy left in man. Everything was up in the air, and there was no theodicy to substain him in his travail. Weber, along with many others in Germany under Nietzsche's influence, saw that all that we care was threatened by his insight and that we were without intellectual or moral resources to govern the outcome. We require values, which in turn require a perculiar huamn creativity that is drying up and in any event has no cosmic support. Scientific analysis itself concludes that reason is powerless, while dissolving the protective horizon within which men can value. None of this is perculiar to Weber or comes simply from his distressed personality, which he had at least partly because of the blea perspective that lay before him. There is no doubt that value relativism, if it is true and it is believed in, taes one into very dark regions of the soul and very dangerous political experiments. But on enchanted American ground the tragic sense has little place, and the early proponents of the new social science gaily accepted the value insight, sure that their values were just fine, and went ahead with science. ... Suddenly a new generation that had not lived off inherited value fat, that had not been educated in philosophic and scientific indifference to good and evil, came on the street representing value commitment and taught their elders a most unpleasant lesson.

[Notice the link to the late great debauched Weimar Republic; precursor to Nazi Germany]

The image of this astonishing Americanization of the German pathos can be seen in the smiling face of Loius Armstrong as he belts out the words of his great hit "Mack the Knife". As most Amerian intellectuals know, it is a translation of the song "Makie Messer" from The Threepenny Opera, a monument of Weimar Republic popular culture, written by two heroes of the artistic Left, Bertolt Brecht and Jurt Weill. There is a strange nostalgia among many of the American intelligentsia for this moment just prior to Hitler's coming to power, and Lotte Lenya's rendition of this song has long stood with Marlene Dietrich's singing "Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuss auf Liebe eingestellt" [It is a tad bit erotic in German] in the Blue Angel as the symbol of a charming, neurotic, sexy, decadent longing for some hazy fulfilment not quite present to the consciousness. Less known to our intelligentsia is an aphorism in Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra, a book well known to Brecht, entitled "On the Pale Criminal", which tells the story of a neurotic murderer, eerily resembling Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment, who does not know, cannot know, that he committed murder out of a motive as legitimate as any other and useful in many important situations, but delegitimized in our pacific times: he lusted after "the joy of the knife". This scenario for "Mack the Knife" is the beginning of the supra-moral attitude of expectancy, waiting to see what the volcano of the id will spew forth, which appealed to Weimar and is American admirers. Everything is all right as long as it is not fascism! With Armstrong taking Lenya's place, as Mai Britt took Dietrich's, it is all mass marketed and the message becomes less dangerous, although no less corrupt [Perverse is the better word]. (pp. 150-152)

...

[Hypocrisy of the Nietzsheanized Left]

Here again we live with two cotradictory understandings of what counts for man. One tells us what is important is what all men have in common; the other that wat men have in common is low, while what they have from separate cultures give them their depth and their interest. Both agree that life, liberty, and the persuit of property, i.e. the interests of health and preservation, are what men share. The difference between them is the weight they give to being French or Chinese, Jewish or Catholic, or the rank order of these particuilar cultures in relation to the natural needs of the body. One is cosmopolitan, the other is particularistic. Human rights are connected with one school, respect for other cultures with the other. Sometimes the United States is attacked for failing to promote human rights; sometimes for wanting to impose "the American way of life" on all people without respect for their cultures. To the extent that it does the latter, the United States does so in the name of self-evident truths that apply to the good of all men. But its critics argue that there are no such truths, that they are prejudices of American culture [Yes, I am sure THAT view is an American prejudice also]. On the other hand, the Ayatollah was initially supported by some here because he represented true Iranian culture. Now he is attacked for violating human rights. What he does is in the name of Islam. His critics insist that there are universal principles that limit the rights of Islam. When the critics of the U.S. in the name of culture, and of the Ayatollah in the name of human rights, are the same persons, which they often are, they are persons who want to eat their cake and have it, too.

Why, it might be asked, can't there be a respect for both human rights and culture? Simply because a culture itself generates its own way of life and principles, particularly its highest ones, with no authority above it. If there were such an authority, the unique way of life born of its principle would be undermined. The idea of culture was understood to be the shallow and dehumanizing universality of rights based on our animal nature. The folk mind takes the place of reason. ... (pp. 191-192)

...

[More inconsistency in New Liberalism]

It is Nietzsche's merit that he was aware that to philosophize is radically problematic in the cultural, historicist dispensation. He recognized the terrible intellectual and moral risks involved. At the center of every thought was the question "How is it possible to do what I am doing?" He tried to apply his own thought the teachings of cultural relativism. This practically nobody does. For example, Freud says that men are motivated by desire for sex and power, but he did not apply those motives to explain his own science or his own scientific activity. But if can be a true scientist, i.e. motivated by love of the truth, so can other men, and his desciption of their motives is thus morally flawed. Or if he is motivated by sex and power, he is not a scientist, and his science is only one means among many possible to attain those ends. This contradiction runs throughout the natural and social sciences. They give an account of things that cannot possibly explain the conduct of their practitioners. The highly ethical economist who spaks only about gain, the public-spirited political scientist who sees only group interest, the physicist who signs petitions in favor of freedom while recognizing only unfreedom — mathematical law governing moved matter — in the universe are symptomatic of the difficulty of providing a self-explanation for science and a ground for the theoretical life, which has dogged the life of the mind since early modernity but has become particularly acute with cultural relativism. (pp. 203-204)

...

[Beginning of irrationalism and the slide into Post-Modernism]

... Up to Nietzsche, the neglect of and contempt for Plato and Aristotle was the result of a belief that what they tried to do could be done much better. That is why Socrates was always in good repute. He was the skeptical seeker after the way to knowledge by means of unaided reason. He was not tied to any solution or system and thus could be seen as the originator and the inspirer who did not constrain the freedom of posterity. The current contempt for Plato and Aristotle is of an entirely different kind, for it is allied to contempt for Socrates. He corrupted them; they did not pervert him. We did not progress from Socrates, but he marked the beginning of the decline. Reason itself is rejected by philosophy itself. Thus the common thread of the whole tradition has been broken, and with it the raison d'etre of the university as we know it. (p. 311)

...

[On the growing fascism of the Nietzscheanized Left]

[Speaking of the sixties era] ... The fact that in Germany the politics were of the Right and in the United States of the Left should not mislead us. In both places the universities gave way under the pressure of mass movements, and did so in large measure because they thught that those movements possessed a moral truth superior to any the university could provide. ... The New Left in America was a Nietzscheanized-Heideggerianized Left. The unthinking hatred of "burgeious society" was exactly the same in both places. A distinguished professor of political science proved this when he read to his radical students some speeches about what was to be done. They were enthusiastic until he informed them that the speeches were by Mussolini [I guess the expressions on their faces are worth a lot]. ... (p. 315)

...

[Now, let the Liberals eat their own medicine]

[In a 60s Student uprising against the university]... These American professors were utterly disarmed, as were many German professors, when the constituency that they took for granted, of which they honestly believed they were independent, deserted or turned against the. Students and colleagues wanted to radicalize and politicize the university. To fulminate against Bible Belt preachers was one thing. In the world that counted for these professors, this could only bring approval. But to be isolated in the university, to be called foul names by their studnts or their colleagues, all for the sake of an abstract idea, was too much for them [Serve them right for their double standardness!]. They were not in general strong men, althought their easy rhetoric had persuaded them that they were — that they alone manned the walls protecting civilization, Their collapse [capitulation to the demands of the masses; students lording over teachers] was merely pitiful, although their feeble attempts at self-justification frequently turned vicious. ... (p. 318)

The piper would henceforth play the tune called by the students, and they [the students] were not even paying. (p. 327)

...

[The disgraceful behavior of the natural scientists, and the consequences of the error of affirmative action]

... [Natural scientists] are pretty sure of what they are teaching. They cannot deceive themselves that they are teaching science when they are not. They have powerful operational measures of competence. And inwardly they believe, at least in my experience, that the only real knowledge is scientific knowledge. In the dilemma that faced them — mathematicians wanted, for example, to see more black and women hired but could not fnd nearly enough competent ones — they in effect said that the humanists and social scientists should hire them Believing that there are no real standards outside of the natural sciences, they assumed that adjustments could easily be made. With the profoundest irresponsibility, scientists went along with various aspects of affirmative action, assuming, for example, that any minority students admitted without proper qualifications would be taken care of by other departments if they did not do well in sciences. The scientists did not anticipate large-scale failture of such students, with the really terrible consequences that would entail. They took it for granted that these students would succeed somewhere in the university. And they were right. The humanities and social scientists were debauched and grade inflation took off, while the natural sciences remain largely the preserve of white males. Thus the true elitists of the university have been able to stay on the good side of the forces of history without having to suffer any of the consequences. (p. 351)

Hobbes said that if the fact that two and two makes four were to become a matter of political relevance, there would be a faction to deny it. (p. 354)

P.S.: By the way, Freidrich Nietzsche was the one who coined the phrase "God is dead", not to say that God as a person was dead, as some naive Christians may think he though, but that the concept of God and the divine is for all purposes 'dead' in his mind. This of course did not give him a very optimistic view of things, but that's for another time.