Hard Things For Christians

It is a hard thing to face ones restrictions. It is hard to realize that one cannot force the will of someone else. That one may not require revenge. That one may not do what seems natural in righting wrongs.

It is a hard thing to rein oneself in. To wait for justice. To trust that truth will out in spite of circumstances that seem all to indicate otherwise.

It is a hard thing to love others. Truly love them. Love when wrong is done to you. Love unselfishly on a consistent basis. Answer kindly and patiently.

Go the second mile.

It is hard. But my belief is that it can become easier with use. I’ll let you know if I ever find that to be true.

But I have to ask myself one question:
Isn’t it harder to keep living selfishly and wrathfully and willfully….. in the long run?

Culture Faultlines

After talking about ideas of masculinity in the Church, and after looking at complaints about the mix of Christian identification and political issues, there came up this news item on the Japanese view of their returned hostages from Iraq.

At the base of the cultural views of East and West on such issues is something of the very different philosophical views of individuality, social responsibility, and moral duty.

How very difficult for those caught in the crushing demands of opposing worldviews. And as Jesus pointed out ( in the case of God and Mammon ) you will please only one side. It is impossible to meet the approval of both.
Democracy is sometimes called a Greek idea, but its present form is rooted within the Reformation’s interpretation of the Bible’s mandates of man’s duty. It is a Western idea, mainly. Grown out of the soil of a Reformation fertilized England.

And Japan, while strongly advocating freedom and democracy, has a different view of social responsibility grown out of different soil. The Western mindset is a veneer lacquered firmly onto the social base of traditional Japan. But ths hostage situation created some cracks in the veneer.

To the American mind, the hostages were doing something highly honorable and sacrificial in putting themselves in harm’s way for the sake of the needy persons of Iraq. The journalists were brave to risk the vulnerability of on-scene reporting as freelancers. That is our way of seeing it.

But the Japanese way has a different set of standards, and the returned hostages offended those standards in adhering to a set that most of the West applauds.

The whole idea of choices is one with many landmines when cultures meet. And it seems that there are even more when they try to meld ideals of government into their culture without addressing the ethical changes that will incur.
It illuminates the great difficulty the West will find in trying to implement freedoms and government forms in the strongholds of Islam. Especially where there are strict dictations of particular sects.

If Japan, in its secular society, has had struggles with the clashing standards of what constitutes duty to ones country and ones fellow man, how much more societies where there is no advocate for the individual? And any system where the idea of God is superimposed over the government will end in the most vicious of oppressions. Without answer or recourse.

That is why the Reformation views on government were founded squarely in the idea that God gave law as a means for man to govern himself properly, with due rights and process. Where the Law is King, but not a law unto itself. Where the ideals included certain inalienable God-given rights that even God, Himself, would not compromise.

Those ideas must be cultivated in the soil of the people. The freedoms must rise from grassroots level. And in the cultural faultlines, one will have to jump to one side or the other. The lines will not be nation’s lines, they will be lines based within the state of the heart.

God does Strange Things

I recently read a testimony of a Christian, Peter, that while more extreme than many, had numerous things that I remember from many testimonies of those sorts of Christians that have complete life-changing conversions from the time I was also saved.

It has a few similarities to my own conversion -which is online, here.

Peter said something simple, but affecting:

“I had discovered why the early Christians freely lay down their lives for their faith, it is a precious thing to know and be known by Jesus.”

It is a precious thing. That is the best way to put it.

I flounder about for words… but there it is. People want God to be quite regular, but the truth is that God does Strange Things. A New Thing.

Isaiah 48

5 Even from the beginning I have declared it to you;
Before it came to pass I proclaimed it to you,
Lest you should say, “My idol has done them,
And my carved image and my molded image
Have commanded them.’

6 “You have heard;
See all this.
And will you not declare it?
I have made you hear new things from this time,
Even hidden things, and you did not know them.
7 They are created now and not from the beginning;
And before this day you have not heard them,
Lest you should say, “Of course I knew them.’

The Church, the World, and The Devil

Wait a minute. That was supposed to be The Flesh, wasn’t it?

Yes, Virginia, but we are trying to make a point here.

Vash, in her easily amused post, was commenting on the role of Masculinity in the Church. Sort of, per this post. I read it, and see it as a new incarnation of an old problem within the Church ( as in the historical Church ). The evangelistic missions of the nineteenth and early twentieth century often mixed cultural mandates with Gospel Truth. It probably came from the highly imperialistic vision of creating colonies that often accompanied the apostolic work of missions in lands other than those which were English/Western based.

One of the first to break from that mold was Hudson Taylor. He recognized that it was not the English way of life, but the Way, the Life, and the Truth that was important for the Chinese.

I think it is this same idea, in a different form that calls for Christians to show their “manliness” by “Put an end to preaching by cheesy, whiny, quiche eating, preening Nancy Boys … right now! It freaks us meat eaters out” 1.

There has been, oftentimes, an abandonment of responsibility by men in much of Christendom of the West, I will admit that. But my experience is that it is for a different reason.
Continue reading The Church, the World, and The Devil

The Power and Necessity of Definition

The Usefulness of Semantics

Some negate it, some exalt it, but the study of words and their meanings is paramount to one thing: communication.

If you are truly going to understand someone, or something ( as in a subject) you better be clear on the vocabulary. And that is at the base of a lot of misunderstanding.

Ryland, Again

So here we go with another of Ryland’s posts: I am willing to chalk this latest to frustration, as well as the first one…. but then it becomes a matter of intellectual laziness, if one continues to misunderstand the need to define the terms properly.

It seems that determining what is Christian is now labeled “legalistic”. Ok, Ryland, what does that mean and in whose vocabulary? Is it “legalistic” in the Christian’s vocabulary to define oneself by the Nicene Creed?

It became apparent rather early on to the Church Fathers that we needed some idea of what a Christian believed. And to decide whether a Christian acts “Christian” you pretty much have to define how that action looks as opposed to something “UnChristian” or whatever.

This is going to happen every time you try to describe any group. What is Muslim and what is not of Islam? What is a Liberal? What is a Conservative? What is Fundamental? In what context?

It is in the context of the definitions that we get the understanding of what we are really talking about….. and it ends up being very important, and especially so if one is going to answer vague accusations and mandated actions. Mandated by whom?

Although it is all very tiresome if one is not actually interested in truth …just in fueling intimidation and emotional rants and finding some handy scapegoats.

The only trouble with that is that it will eventually lead to lots of inequity.

And then some people are going to be very unhappy. And rightfully so.

So if we are going to dialog, let’s articulate the people, problems, and issues distinctly, shall we? It will call for some tiresome defining, but worth it in the long run…even if only to know your enemy, if that is what you want to make of a group of people.

It could end up with mutual understanding , toleration, and respect, though. That, surely, is worth the temporary tedium. Time when the academic is worth its salt.

To the GIST:

Is it Christian?

If it is Christian-defining to act and believe a certain way, then it would be illogical to ask one to stop believing and acting that way- as a Christian.

The very term, “legalistic” is anathema to Christian doctrine for behavior, but there are lots of ideas on what that “legalism” consists of.

It is a discussion of internal relevance to Christians in the form it seemed to be used in Ryland’s latest post. That is how I understood it, anyway.

But you have to have some sort of working sense of what a Christian is, in order to discuss the subject cogently.

So we aren’t talking about the internal disputes of sectarians, but the general sense that the world might have of what the word, ‘Christian” means. Just follower of Christ. That is pretty simple and to the point.

Then we can get on to talking about how certain behaviors are in line with specific things that Jesus taught or is not. That isn’t too hard, is it?

But necessary…

Is Ryland correct?

In what way yes and in what way no?

Ryland said:

“The legalistic side says that in order to get into Heaven, you have to follow God’s laws (ideally, as laid out in the bible, even though it’s arguably impossible to do that). The spiritual side says that the only way to get into Heaven is through accepting Christ and being reborn.”

Actually, no. Ryland was a lot closer when he was citing the faith known by its works quotation ( Jas 2:17-24). His grasp of what is legalistic is fairly accurate, though, if one is talking about earning righteousness and standing. The spiritual does say that acceptance of salvation is by faith, belief. But the case is clearly made that those who are Christs are those who do His works as He, also said:


Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

So there is a definition of good and iniquitous works. One that is not legalistic, but illuminating. The illumination will come by way of what is already revealed in scripture texts.

Fred Phelps? President Bush?

So which is Fred Phelps doing?

And which defines the supporters of President Bush? And who is right and who is wrong, in terms of following Jesus?

It matters. Especially if you are calling for corrective action. And corrective action will necessarily take place within a legal context, one of jurisdiction and right.

Is President Bush wrong in using authority? Does he abuse his authority as outlined in the presidency of the USA? If not, then you can rail all you want (freedom of speech), but it won’t make much sense to call on Christians to make a crusade of it.


“If Jesus were alive today, would he persecute gay people because they want to get married?”

I think it is safe to say that Jesus would not be found persecuting anybody. That wasn’t His business, but He did do a great deal of talking about repenting and turning back towards God.

He didn’t spend a lot of time defining sin, the Mosaic Law had done a pretty good job of that. It was now a matter of finding how to enter into relationship with God, given that we all had sin problems.

This is all I will say here, but I would like to say something more of the idea of crusades, later.

Be very careful of crusades…. in whatever context.

Extrapolating the Christian Rant and Defining It

More About Ryland and his post

At the foundation of Ryland’s comments is the question, “What is a Christian?” and the what of the expectations of how that looks in action in the real world.

How Does Love Act?

Anyone can say they love you, but you have particular ideas and concepts about how love acts and looks and whether something really qualifies. That is the same thing at work in defining “Christian”.

Along the way we get an awful lot of smoke, mirrors, and disguises. That is why we get so confused. I say we, because I have had more than a few times when what I thought was a lamb took a bite out of me.

Who Is The Silent Majority?

But on the big scale that Ryland is talking about it helps to look into some definitions of “fringe elements” and “silent majority”. What were they? What are they now? And how do they fit with “Christian” in the real sense of someone who wants to follow and obey Jesus in this hard-bitten world. Lambs among wolves, it’s been said.

What is the silent majority in the USA?

Do Christians want to hurt anybody? What are they willing to do or not to do in that context?

The Political Animal

First, I think the silent majority is no more. I think that was a reality only after the long cultural siege of the liberal politics and religionists had assassinated much of the idea of God and the old style patriotism of the fifties. The old ideas of “God and Country”. At that time there was a long silent majority of people who still held such concepts as a priority, but they held it in individual mixes.

The New Christian Politicos

I believe that that ‘majority’ broke down into the various conservatives, new-cons, Christian Conservatives, and fundamental groups of today. Maybe even some of the different sorts of liberals that you see, but that have strong ideals of religion and country.

Now such groups are aligned more along their priorities, whether political/cultural or religious. Although there are no definitive lines that you can count on.

So, I have to say you can’t really call on a movement of strongly allied ‘silent majority’ in either the cultural or the religious sense.

In fact, of the two, I think the religious community is going through some serious throes in defining their concepts and priorities.

Do Christians want to hurt anybody? What are they willing to do or not to do in that context?

The second question is one that requires more of it’s own post.

A Christian Answers: A Rant for a Rant

I read this entry-plea in the blog, a boy and his computer. I thought about commenting until I saw 57 entries were already posted. I knew two things at that point: most of those comments would be crap and I would probably end up angry, which would mess up something I wanted to say in sincerity to what I perceived to be a sincere post.

And so, here I am, making something of it on my own blog.

What response did this post evoke from me? You are welcome to read on:

The Story

Ryland starts out:
“This is a message for the Christians out there. Not the fundamentalists or the evangelicals or the “God hates fags” people; I mean the nice ones, the ones that actually listen to what Jesus said and take it heart, “

It isn’t hard to see we are in trouble here. After the fundamentalists and evangelicals are subtracted you don’t get a vast majority of people who still adhere to Christian beliefs. Not because of the labels, but because you will have a number of others who hold to similar beliefs, but aren’t named. So I am not sure which Christians are really being called upon here ….until the term:

“nice ones”

Nice ones? As in compliant and mealy mouthed ones …no, that isn’t what is meant, because it is the ones who actually listen to Jesus and take His words to heart.

Ok. I can live with that context. I wouldn’t call those the nice ones, but I would call them the real ones. No names, no labels, no markings of import, but some real-life sincere desire to be disciples of Jesus, actually following in His steps.

But does Ryland know what that looks like? I have to wonder based on his request:

“Seriously, how can you let these guys speak for you? The wackos are giving you a bad name. We non-Christians protest and argue, but they obviously aren’t going to listen to us. We aren’t Christian, and so we are less than nothing to them. I’m asking you to take some responsibility for your co-religionists. You are your brother’s keeper”

What is it to “take responsibility for ones co-religionists”? Stuff a sock in their mouths, I suppose. But you know, real gagging doesn’t look like that. It looks oppressive, it looks discriminating and cruel. It looks ugly.

And very like the thing which is wished to be shut up. Very much like …just on the other side.

And that is the problem with the worlds solutions for what one does with religionists or politicos of another color, or those who ignite our wrath, however they manage to do that. Crush the scum. Nuke ’em…and we will be on with our version of the perfect world.

But that doesn’t sound like taking Jesus to heart. Not really.

So let’s look at what might be said behind the frustration. First, I wouldn’t lump George Bush and Fred Phelps together. President Bush is an elected official with authority to lead the country. Every president is chosen by God in that sense.

The opinion would be whether that was a blessing or curse, but no one rises to leadership of a country without somehow fulfilling the will of God. Not that we understand all the purposes.

And yet the frustration that Christians are not listening… that should be changed.

Christians should listen to those like Ryland. And dialog, and allow their views to not only be presented, but examined. Let’s dialog!

…. let’s divide the questions and the answers and try to understand the reasoning and the meaning.

And yes, we are our brother’s keeper. It is our responsibility speak against the evil and uphold the good. Let’s figure out what that is. And for those who are not Christians, don’t be surprised if you then start hearing something of what Jesus teaches on that.

You could find yourself surprised.

I Called 911

Deathbed Repentance

Lots has changed. Short time -much change. I suddenly became very ill the other day. Horribly. 911 horribly. ( The call to the medics, not the date). But here I am…not quite right, but ok. It seems to be the same vertigo as last fall, but came in on the wing of some horrendous flu or something.

Now I feel sheepish that I agreed to the 911 call. If I had known it was flu I would’ve toughed it out. Cheaper, with much less intervention and no trips to the doctor. And certainly no group of EMT men in my living room while I heave in a can. Aggghhh. That has to be the low point.

But I did repent of all known sins.

I did. I think that is a rational response to thoughts that you are dying 🙂 Although I wasn’t, but it was a punishing experience, anyway. And now some people on my hatelist are forgiven. I guess it takes something like that. Pretty nitty-gritty, eh?

I wish I didn’t have any hatelists, but sometimes I do. I decided that it isn’t worth it, and it just makes my blood pressure go off the chart. But I know I’m not single minded about that. I’ll have to be careful of waver….

Iraq Problem

Which brings me back to the Iraq problem. The events there are so disturbing. If bully tactics of kidnappings and killings, of terrorism and dictatorship are rewarded, to what end will the nations drive the destiny of this situation? It is like the proverbial tiger by the tail. Letting go is not the answer, but little else is either. Just hold on and hope for help.
Praying for help -shouting for some, might work, too.

Did you know that is what Hosanna means? Lord Save Us.

It is Hosanna season, but we will have to be willing to do things other than our own way. Can we see that? Can we submit to it?

Evangelicals and the Hostile Masses

reprised from the old truegrit:

yes, they do think like that

In World Blog article via Clint was another surprised reaction by Christians to our society’s interpretive view.

The question is asked, “Is CBS really that ignorant of the diversity among evangelicals — here’s a column I wrote on NPR ignorance of Christian belief — or was the goal merely a piece that would scare moderates into voting Democratic? “- Marvin Olasky

Yes, Marvin. It is something that makes the circles with more than one variation., and not just an intimidation tactic. One variation is the assertion that Christians are not ecologically minded due to emphasis on an idea of “rapture” or even from being “too heavenly-minded”, believing that they will go to heaven. Numbers in our society are thinking and speaking along this line.

I don’t think altering ones doctrine is going to be the answer. It certainly isn’t from my view of the firm standard of scripture, but it won’t from the other view of making Christian doctrines more “modern” or to make more sense to modern society.

Because that isn’t the problem.

The problem is that there is hostility and that will find other excuses to pick a bone. On some other doctrine or some other wayward Christian brothers or sisters belief or TV show or something. Because what is really bothering them is that we are not showing consistancy in our life and the ethical living out of that life. It is that again. Not whether we believe in a rapture or not.

When people pick fights with you they either have a reason or they don’t. IOW, Either they have foundation for complaint, which you need to attend to, or they just want a fight for some reason. And if it is that, then nothing you do to placate them is going to be enough.

It is then you being you that is the problem.

So if a Democrat, or anyone else has a concern or an accusation, the Christian community needs to have a reasoned response backed with a consistent Christian witness of a life. That will handle the slippery slopes and the false syllogisms.

What it won’t handle are the natural hostilities to faith in Christ Jesus. We need to understand that, I think.

Posted by Ilona at 12:33 am

Evolution -2

The Importance of Being Earnest

I said I wasn’t going to turn this blog into a pseudo-forum discussion and I’m not. But anyone who knows me, knows that I will bull-dog the opposition when the topic is important for some reason.

Evolution as it is now used in our culture is important to the Christian. Not the least, for the reason that so many use it to promote misunderstandings of Christians. Note I said it is used -not is. Subjects can be used for purposes totally outside their intended and proper use. More on that later.

And so, rather than drag out the discussion in the earlier format (although I can do that if I get my back up;)…. I thought I would use it to take a look at how logical fallacies are often put into play in the cultural agendas out and about the sphere of public discussion.

I am using Ed’s 2nd response to me as the basis of illustration.

Most seasoned pundits in these discussions are going to steer clear of outright ad hominems. They aren’t going to go straight for the jugular and call you a fool. But there will be a bit of a dance around it, a chisel here and there. The first paragraph laid a thin layer that gets built upon as the post goes on. It is subtle in a couple of ways, with bits of red herring and appeals to authority thrown in.

Theory, Hypothesis, Smokescreen Scientific Method

Let’s see how this works:
“she has a very shallow understanding of the scientific method”.

Now, is that depth of understanding necessary in the case of the argument at hand? While there is some circular reasoning later on, in citing science that heavily relies on the evolution theory itself, (such as geology and paleontology for examples of science which uses observation and theorizing in lieu of replicated experiments), what is the real purpose of this statement?

It is to throw doubt on the ability of the opposition to make the statements they do. Does one need a high level of expertise to make an observation that evolution is mainly conjecture? One might look at statements by the scientists themselves, as they piece together their (ever-changing) theory.

When this essay was first written the idea of Neanderthal man was limited to a sort of low intelligence “Ape-man”. With modern discoveries including DNA research, the picture of this in the evolutionary story has changed. This is happening all the time to many scientific theories.

In building Ed’s sort of circumstantial ad hominem, the validity of the opponent’s claim is not disputed, but a diminishing of their understanding becomes the case at hand in the argument. This is then built upon throughout the argument. The “eighth grade” modifier is used (in the later comments) to underscore the point, yet perhaps that is exactly where one should start in explaining the overwhelming argument for the certainty of evolutionists claims. Or just admit that evolution has problems.

You know black holes are theory, too, but no one makes this the monolith of information on space. It is important theory… but it isn’t adhered to with religious fervor. Evolution as information is adhered to in that way, it is considered heresy to entertain the ID theory.

Statements like “the ID crowd has yet to produce anything like a testable hypothesis…. and “the model offered by YECs has been falsified over and over again and fails to explain the data entirely”.
Wait. Does evolution “explain the data entirely”, has it ever “been falsified “?

The Bad Reasons Fallacy is worth looking at here. Maybe the ID guys haven’t come up with the best model, but does that mean evolution is fact and that it is true?

So we get to the “burden of proof”. Is it up to ID theorists to provide an air-tight model, when evolution can’t do that? Can both be used as theories? No one is saying that evolution theory be completely replaced. It’s tenuous hold on fact status ought to be admitted.


One thing that Ed has done in his posts, which is common enough, is ignore the most pointed difficulty. When we talk about evolution we are talking about two separate definitions sharing the same word, and some of the concepts.

Organisms do modify, they do hybridize often. We just don’t see much in the way of “transformations”. Why is that part of evolution so hard for the proponents to put in perspective?

I think because it is part of a desire to believe, rather than the conviction of proof.

And that is where I would like to see honesty.

Logical Fallacies Employed

It is in this vested interest that many of the ad hominems and appeals to ridicule, etc. come about.

Then a straw man makes his appearance.
“Science does not “prove facts”. Science explains facts”

And how does science explain facts except by proving their validity through the scientific method? Science explains the “what is there” … but it has to determine whether what is seen is in truth what is.

So “empirical” is both observation and experiential experiments. It does involve that part of method called “replication”.

but what does this have to do with the price of eggs? Or more importantly, on what basis does the the flat statement “And humans evolved from apelike ancestors whether they did so by Darwin’s proposed mechanism or by some other, yet to be discovered.” get its support, its facts?

Why, upon, the strawman argument, “Evolution is not a “proven fact” because A) nothing in science is ever “proven”.

Now we are in a universe where nothing is ever proven …… a state of mind familiar to the philosopher, aka syncreticism. Evolution of the mind, I suppose we could call it.

We don’t know where it comes from, and we don’t know where it ends up, but we sure do know what we know we are saying right now. Work with that.

No wonder origin questions are thrown out the window, that is where philosophy is, basically, right now. The big questions get thrown out the window, so we can get on with the details.

And this sort of thinking always ends up in materialism. The material universe is all there is…because that is all we can handle. Prove. Whatever word you want to use.

It is no longer an idea of what is proven or what is true…. not in philosophy or in scientific pursuit, but what best suits us.

I would pose this question in light of this type of discussion:

How can we expect to make real progress in science with this sort of viewpoint?

How do we ascertain whether information is accurate when there is no “proven fact” and all is weighted in what is presented as the going thing in the “experts opinion”?


False Logic

Well, back to more illustration of false logic.

Ed said “Facts are the world’s data.
Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go
away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein’s theory of
gravitation replaced Newton’s, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air,
pending the outcome. And humans evolved from apelike ancestors whether they did so by Darwin’s proposed mechanism or by some other, yet to be discovered.”

The apple ideas are using replicable evidence. Apples fall downward. There are different explanations for why or how. But evolution? how is this comparable in replication?

ummm. I think I choose ‘commuting the conditionals’ because the condition of two different theories for the replication of the apple falling downwards is then given to the unreplicated ideas of evolution. Voila… evolution gets the identification with apples falling downwards and ID proponents get the alternative of apples rising on the ‘morrow. And wham!…. appeal to ridicule for anyone having the audacity to question the evolution theory.

I am getting tired now… I felt there was lots of manipulated thinking, but I didn’t realize how much til getting into it here….

all for questioning that evolution theory is unquestionable fact.

For the rest of it:
Ed:”which is what I presume Ilona means by “materialism””

I can only guess that it was an exercise in futility to post those references to “materialism” and “naturalism” in a previous post.

I will save this for another post; along with “If it’s not a given
to Ilona, then perhaps we could discuss what she DOES believe about the designer. I know of no one who advocates ID or conventional creationism who argues that God was not omnipotent.”

I do believe God is omnipotent, but I have been in this sort of discussion also, and the God of the Bible is not the same as the hypothetical “unrestrained” being of many in the public forum.