Be Careful Who You Listen To

This good advice comes directly from my experience on this blog. When I was in my heyday of blogging here, I did make some communication mistakes, with people, with writing, with rankling some readers, but I was honestly me and just wanted to speak opinions on the issues and topics I wrote about. Those topics could be just about anything. I had been on lists previously to blogging so had a fairly thick skin when it came to opposition and the psychological games that are sometimes played online (if you wonder what I’m talking about just look through advice on dealing with the many guises of trolls)

jekyl and hyde

You might be interested in reading “Things I learned in Forums” and “I n The Spirit Of Harmony

There are many types of disjointed negative people who troll the internet, but it seems they are not as visible to me now. I suppose it is because I have simply stopped giving much of my opinion and become somewhat apathetic about some of the former topics I once blogged passionately about. It also made my writing a bit more boring on those topics, so I stick to just sharing some the introspection for now… like this post. I also don’t “engage” nearly as much as I used to…

Anyway, back to the story…there was a story? yes. A blogger making a name for himself rating other blogs and bloggers decided he didn’t like me too well, and at some point said I was third rate or second rate or something like that. I don’t remember the actual verbal weapon he used, only now I can see the long-term damage. Sometimes these words are wielded with psychological knowledge and intent, but it is always difficult to say when it is all happening behind the screen.

Perhaps it was the timing or who knows, really, but the problem was that somewhere inside myself I listened to him. I shouldn’t have, and there was no real authority for him to have that sort of power over my own opinion of myself, but as those things sometimes go, it did.

I think its power came from somewhere deep inside myself where I was convinced that yes, I was no more than second or third rate as a person , and might as well give up blogging my opinions. Of course, I didn’t altogether, but you might say that is when the wind went out of my sails on this type of blog. The first of many climate changes to my life. I had had about enough of the interminable religious arguing that some Christians enjoy, politics became toxic and polemic. I am sure that contributed to the loss of interest in internet crusading. I went back home, you might say, to deal with the fires of my crumbling hearth and home. I wrote mostly about gardening.

How many times have I seen a talented blogger fold because they were harried or harassed by comments and unkindness? Many a time, in fact it was almost the norm for “blog-life”. I still hear complaints about rude, troublemaking feedback from people who I wonder are simply new to the way the wild world of the web interacts (which is simply an exposure of how real people often act and react – they are just more invested in hiding it in real life). It isn’t easy to see either intent or effect of words on the internet medium. Jekyll and Hyde

This is not an obscure thing that happens on the internet or elsewhere in life. Everywhere there are people who thrive on saying negative and discouraging things. Not just criticism, which is sometimes necessary, or voicing different opinions and perspectives, but those who belittle and wish to cripple others in their endeavors. I suppose there is more than a little envy at work.

The trouble is that many of us have been exposed to influences that assess, ascribe to us, or even assassinate our character and value as a person. And we become marred in our own image of ourselves, while vulnerable to those who can damage us and discourage us from following our dreams or building something worthwhile.

Those people speak into our lives and we let them.

That is why I think we should be careful who we listen to… even if we think we are armored against them, even if we think we are confident, strong people. We should be careful who we allow access to the place inside where our identity is formed. Of course, a person heals over time, and with efforts, but it is a lass of time and of momentum in life to step into the snare of harmful,negative people.

As an antidote I truly believe we should find those, including what God says of us, who will help us find our true core, the identity of ourselves as we are meant to be, as we best are. It isn’t a matter of surrounding ourselves with “yes-men”, but of being discerning, careful who give heed to in our lives.


[repost time for new readers- if you want to know my general past discussion on these topics-originally posted March 02, 2004 @ 17:56]

evolution for a time

Hello,ppls. For a time , since I am not on the forums much at all, I am taking up a bit of the discussion from Ed’s place. If you hate evolution/ID or creation types of debate, chill. It is mainly the metaphysics that I am interested in, but the debate mode has a way of stirring the blood. Probably worth a few posts.
I will use my forum format- some of his comments with my answers. Read his post in entirety here.
I am trying to make the point that evolutionists are weak in the base of their arguments which are simply lots of “probablies” rather than in the idea that ID/creationists arguments have superior strength. We are sort of midstream in it.

answering Ed

I said that much of evolutionary theory is simply conjecture. Ed then replies:

“Still false. When I say that the eye and the brain probably evolved together, I mean that there is solid evidence and sound reasoning to reach that conclusion.”

This entire didactic paragraph is an interesting bit of information, but how is it proof that there is evolution, rather than a created being…where the brain and the eye are in tandem in development? I wouldn’t protest the neurological studies at all…. I don’t see how they are more in favor of an evolutionary idea rather than the ID one. The evolutionary one is weak through its probablies. It has nothing to do with Ed’s fatherly repetitions of “Certainty is rated on a continuum, not on a simple yes/no scale.” protests.

I know that, Ed. Really, I do. What I am saying is that the evolutionary theory is not so watertight as you propound. The tandem working of the brain and eye, notwithstanding.

“I could also cite many other lines of evidence for this argument from comparative anatomy and paleontology, but I fear they will still be shoved into this false dichotomy that Ilona offers,…..
Certainty is rated on a continuum, not on a simple yes/no scale.”

Although calling my argument a false dichotomy is convenient for the oppositions argument, the actual contention I offered was that evolutionary theory does not fit into the scientific methodology of replicated experimentation which creates the “Certainty is rated on a continuum”.

What is offered by Ed is more along the lines of historical hypothesis and theory…. which is an art and is more honestly represented than the “science” of
evolutionary theory.

Not that there are not the plausible parts for those disposed to believe in it. But I will still maintain that evolutionary theory is not certainty in any sense of the word. It isn’t a proven fact, and many of its parts are not proven facts. It has problems.
Continue reading Evolution

Will Cessationism cease? That is the question…

I am taking the liberty to fisk a high profile posting on the cessationist argument… as it was lobbed to the post of Adrian Warnock. I just wanted to …. even though fisking may be frowned upon.
This is the post, mostly -skipping over the preamble, answered in a rebuttal manner as is common in forums. I use asterisks to point out important points to answer, the color for Adrian, the color for Pyro and my template color for my answer or comment.

Tongues” across the water: response to Adrian, part one
by Dan Phillips

… our friend Adrian Warnock “got all het up” over my post on the tongues of angels. My roughly 630 words provoked something like 2700 words of response from Adrian. I tremble at the thought of what these larger posts will bring down on my poor old head.

In doing me the honor of raking me over the coals in Christian love, Adrian, God love him (and I mean that), wanders pretty much all over creation. He brings in Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones, MacArthur, Piper, African missionaries, the Toronto “Blessing,” a dozen texts or so,….

I propose three posts in response. In the second, I mean to give semi-rapid-fire responses to at least most of Adrian’s text-based questions. In the third, I hope to present some concluding areas of agreement and disagreement.

In this the first response, I’ll target what to me is not only the heart of Adrian’s post, but of much of the Charismatic bypath. It is found among his final words in the post. It’s long, but I want to quote it in toto:

Why do so many cessationists actually argue for the exact opposite of what Jesus Himself says in Luke 11 (see the whole context). Jesus ends the parable by saying, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” The cessationist has to deal with the fact that millions of people today have asked God for an experience of the Holy Spirit, and that in direct contrast to what Jesus Himself said, by definition, if cessationism is true, they have not received the Spirit, but rather something else. Where they have asked for the bread of tongues, they have been given the stone of foolish gibberish. Where they have asked for the fish of prophecy, they have been given the serpent of hallucinatory delusions worthy of a madman. This cannot be right, in my humble opinion, as it makes Jesus Himself into a trickster. At the very least, God should have given us clearer directions in the Bible to manage our expectations and help us ALL to realise that cessationism is the biblical teaching. This issue has clear implications for the doctrine of the clarity of Scripture. If Jesus Himself appears to tantalise these people with an offer to give the Spirit to those who ask and really means something very different to the gift of the Spirit we see in Acts, then surely He would have told us!

I see two critical problems in Adrian’s reasoning here.

*******First, brother Adrian reads a great deal into the text. Our Lord simply asks, if rendered over-literally, “If therefore you, though actually being wicked, know to give good gifts to your children, how much rather will the Father who is from Heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Luke 11:13, emphases added). ****

Is he reading into it, or is he adding together from other scriptures to get a balanced view of the whole? The verses here are assurances that what God is spiritually giving to a sincere believing supplicant can be presumed good. It is directly related to receiving the Holy Spirit.. and inclusion of all the attending gifts and actions, that God chooses, could be implied .

Adrian immediately leaps hither:
“The cessationist has to deal with the fact that millions of people today have asked God for an experience of the Holy Spirit, and that in direct contrast to what Jesus Himself said, by definition, if cessationism is true, they have not received the Spirit, but rather something else.”

Then Adrian immediately goes to prophecy and tongues.
But what has Jesus said in this verse about tongues, or about prophecy? What did He say about any specific and particular manifestation or “experience”? Is there any chance that even one of Jesus hearers would have made the associations Adrian makes? Surely not.****

The manifestations are spoken of in a different place, and further underlined by the history that starts in the book of Acts. Our associations would be based upon the history that follows, in this case, with scriptural canon imprimatur.

Indeed, here as in other texts (as I’ll show, DV), Adrian’s proof proves too much.If Adrian is going to read this passage as an iron-clad guarantee… well, the mind fairly reels with the consequences.

**** This would have to mean that God, on Adrian’s stated understanding, will always and ever give whatever specific spiritual manifestation everyone and anyone asks, on any occasion. Nor can we condition it on God’s will, nor on our faith — again, on Adrian’s reading — for our Lord mentions neither. ****

I do not see that implied in Adrian’s statements, it seems to be your own extrapolation. It appears to be a cheap shot at association with some of the worst of excesses in modern Christendom for the sake of a knee jerk response on the part of the reader.

****Anything that happens after such a prayer can be charged to God. To fail to do so calls the perspicuity of Scripture (not our handling of it) into serious question.
If it’s an ironclad and unconditional guarantee as presented above, then one request by any believer should ever and always result in any spiritual gift he names. God has to do as I ask, for His glory’s sake.****

This is so much of a twist that I hardly know where to start. Just because I am assured of the faithfulness of God, and confident enough to bring my petitions does not translate into a jerk chain around the neck of the Heavenly Father- as if such a thing could be imagined in the context of Who God Is. But I perceive a little jerk chain of your own in citing things this way, and I have to ask myself…why is that? Conflated thinking. Assurance of something being good and coming from God is not the same as God being bound to the creatures command .

Is God really at my command, to that degree? This seems to me to be one of several junctures at which the first word in the phrase “reformed charismatic” is the weaker of the two.

You may have a point, but in the whole context of your argument I am not willing to give it to you right now. You will have to work for it and explain just what you mean. That the two are inimical?

Now, we know that this has never happened thus in church history. Anywhere. Ever. Has anyone ever even taught this? Surely Adrian will deny that this is what he believes. Yet this is where his line of thinking necessarily leads from his way of handling the text, if followed out relentlessly.

Support this please, if this is not based on the previous ( wrong) premise which misunderstands both the scripture and what Adrian was saying. For I believe it to unsupportable as stated.

*****Further, this way of dealing with the text plucks it right out of its place in the history of redemption. Did anything change in God’s dealings with men, after the resurrection and ascension of Christ, and Pentecost? Ezekiel thought something would change someday (Ezekiel 36:25-27). John the Baptist surely thought something would change (Mark 1:8). John certainly thought something would change (John 7:39). John certainly presented Jesus as thinking something would change (John 14:17). Peter thought something did change (Acts 11:15). Does Adrian? When was that change?
What was that change? Does the change at all inform how we handle texts placed before and after it? Does context have any meaning whatever?

Your line of thinking is not clear here. Can God change? No. “I change not”[ Psalm 55:19] Can He do something new? Yes, “I proclaim to you new things from this time, Even hidden things which you have not known.” [Isaiah 48:6] And besides this, it is not clear that you know, from your own interpretation, when specific changes take place. Now or in the time to come? Before or after Christ’s second coming? When, in your understanding and according to the scriptures do the cited changes take place? This is the gist of the contention, the timing of when certain spiritual things are fulfilled and put away and which remain now, and close at a future time and event.

This is a common mistake in charismatic thought. The Bible is read as if the great moments of redemptive history — the descent of the Spirit, the closing of the Canon — have no real implications. It is as if the Bible should be read as a mural, a large photo, instead of as an unfolding story with movements, climaxes, and openings and closings of acts (Hebrews 1:1-2).********

I don’t see how this can stand. Just because they understand things a different way, does not implicate that they do not see sequentially, as well. The difference seems to be in the when and how that view of sequence is applied. If there is a case for cessationism then the sequence of the closure and the timing of it has to be proven from scripture… the whole point of Charismatics, and all those convinced of the continuation of God’s gifts to the Church is that the closure has not yet taken place.

What if we took Adrian at his word, though?
******* His way of dealing with the text means that Jesus has made an unconditional guarantee to give any manifestation of the Spirit to anyone who asks. Jesus is responsible for everything that happens after I ask. If it isn’t legit, then He (according to Adrian) is a trickster.

Well, then, let’s say I think the Bible could use another book or two. For instance, it could use one that settles this whole Charismatic issue forever.*****

It isn’t a matter of unconditional, and not a matter of anyone getting everything they ask… it has never been taken out of the context that Christians receive what God decides in His sovereignty to give them. But they are encouraged to ask and that with boldness and faith.

The second statement here is a straw man. A real one. You can say anything you want, and no doubt Christians would like the Bible to say more specifically what they want it to say. But the important things are in there for those who have the ears and the eyes to discern it. The Bible, as it stands, says plenty about the gifts, and particularly about speaking in tongues. The continualist says that is still applicable. Does God say some things, still, that aren’t written in the canon, but are no less His Words? The Bible makes a strong case for that. Is this what you are disputing? That man can no longer hear a personal Word form God? For himself, or his family or his nation… or the Church? It doesn’t have to be written on stone plates to be a true word from the Lord. The judgment of that is clearly given in the scriptures, and Israel struggled with the false and the true, so that isn’t something new under the sun either.

****So what if I ask the Lord to give me the gift of prophetic, inscripturating revelation? What if I ask Him to write those books through me? What if I ask Him to send the Spirit to make me the author of the sixty-seventh book of the Bible?*****

Is this what the authors of canon did? did they approach God or did God approach them with the writing of scripture? So it is a false question. Church Fathers passed judgment centuries after the time of the early Church on what was and was not canon scripture. The closure was not found within the books themselves. Can people limit themselves to the Book? yes. Can they limit themselves to KJV Only? yes. But that doesn’t erase validity of the Lord speaking in other ways. Guidelines for judging the prophetic are within the scriptures. No one has to take anything as scripture, if only they judge things by scripture that has gone before…. as the books of the canon were indeed judged inter-contextually.

****Isn’t Adrian bound by his own thinking either to accept my book, or conclude that the Lord is a trickster?****


****And what if the book I write after praying for revelation says that Charismaticism is a delusion? What a bind that would put Adrian in!****

I don’t think so. You could, and people have. It still gets judged by what has gone before and the test of the basic accepted canon. Adrian has not placed himself outside those boundaries, neither should another.

Or what if I asked for a tongue and an interpretation, said “Wobbedy bop,” and interpreted it to mean “Tongues have ceased”? Wouldn’t that, on Adrian’s reasoning, be chargeable to Jesus’ account?

Only on your previous erroneous premises.

“Oh, no, that’s just stupid,” someone will reply. “You’d be tempting the Lord. He isn’t responsible for every lamebrained thing you do, just because you prayed before you did it!”

Which brings me to my second point.

The Lord is not responsible for every lamebrained thing we do, just because we prayed first.
wholehearted agreement. You see, Adrian’s handling of this text really leaves us with only one choice. I was going to write “two choices,” but on reflection, Adrian leaves us only one. Everything that happens after we pray has to be of God, or Jesus is a “trickster.”

Only in your own line of thinking… not predicated upon what is actually in the scriptures. The only thing the scriptures point out and which every Christian anchors within is the goodness and faithfulness of God. The God who is the same today, yesterday and forever. The manifestations are spoken of in a different place, and further underlined by the history that starts in the book of Acts. Our associations would be based upon the history that follows, in this case, with scriptural canon imprimatur.

This premise, a faulty one in my estimation, binds good folk like Adrian. It chains them to defend the indefensible, as surely as the Roman Catholic must defend every ruling and appalling error of his sect. Since manifestly nothing that the Charismatic movement has uniquely produced in the last 100 years has ever measured up to the Biblical phenomenon note: subjective judgment, we have to re-interpret the Bible to fit what is happening today. Because if it’s all a fraud and a distraction, then Jesus is a “trickster.” And since Jesus cannot be a trickster, we have to come up with some explanation that makes wanna-be manifestations legit. We have to define the Biblical phenomena down, to prop the modern phenomena up.

How about fitting it all to be within the parameters of the early Church, would that be acceptable?

*****This is a big reason why Charismaticism is where it is today, the “twenty million people can’t be wrong” argument.****

I can’t emphasize enough how much this is NOT the Charismatic argument. It isn’t about numbers, it is about the validity of that person’s testimony as a bona fide Christian, and the numbers represent many of those bona fide Christians. The question is why would you dismiss their testimony? Upon what scriptural basis?

Can’t they? Can ten out of twelve spies be wrong? Can the majority of the nation of Israel be wrong? Is truth settled by majority vote alone? Is that how we do exegesis — people prayed A, and Z happened, therefore the Bible must mean theta?

*****I’ve done lots of stupid things, after praying. Can I bill them all to God? Wouldn’t that be cool?****

Are you done with the argumentum ad ridiculum yet?

Well, no, if we force ourselves to think it through, it really wouldn’t be cool. Sure, there would be the short-term gain of me being able to shrug off responsibility for all the stupid, foolish, and sinful things I’ve done after praying.

Do the Charismatic churches teach this? Support your statement, because I don’t find that either in the writing or the practice. I find lots of teaching about accountability and personal responsibility, without limiting the manner in which God acts, based upon our scriptural understanding of that.

But the long-term loss would be inestimable. In short, I’d lose the Biblical portrayal of God. God would be the author of my stupid and sinful behavior. He’d become a fickle imp, and prayer would become a good-luck charm at best, or a get-out-of-responsibility-free card at worst.

Again, this conclusion is based upon your own earlier premises in the best circular manner

Of course, there is an alternative.
*****We can cleave to the Word above all and through all, and judge our experiences by it — not the reverse.***

We are back to our base of agreement. I’m with you on this.

Is it not a judge of the thoughts and emotions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12)? Is it not forever settled in the heavens, far above the shifting vagaries of our experience, and the passing trends and fads of our culture (Psalm 119:89)? Is it not the means of my fellowship with the Father and His Son (John 14:21-23; 1 John 1:1-3)? Is it not my cleaving to the Word that proves the reality, or unreality, of my claim to be a disciple (John 8:31-32)?

Yes, yes, and yes… but does this call speaking in tongues or the baptism of the Holy Spirit or the spiritual gifts ( charismata) into question? They are all in scripture. They are spoken of as for believers. Where is the dilemma for you?

So here’s what I am seeing. In direct contrast to all Scripture precedent and command,
excuse me, what is this? millions of people have indeed (as Adrian said) asked for revelatory gifts.

And not one of them has received anything like what is described in the Bible.

And you judge this, how? Criteria, because I smell a generalization fallacy which attempts to lump all charasmata in one basket of disrepute. And further.. I would ask what puts you in the position to see all these millions and be sufficient to assess this with reasonable accuracy .

****Is God to blame for that? Is God to blame, and the fact of the perspecuity of Scripture suspect, because of their persistence in something very different from what He Himself sets out in His Word?****

I lost how anyone is blaming God. I thought the Charismatics were thanking God; and I still don’t see the case made for how speaking in tongues or ministering prophetically is different from what is set out in the Word

I knew a pastor once, a man with very strong training in the Biblical languages and sciences. But he had a doctrine of the guidance of the Holy Spirit that led him to believe that he should pray for that guidance, and then whatever followed had to be of the Spirit. His sermons were bizarre, meandering, idiosyncratic affairs. A friend of his (!) likened the way he handled texts to a drunk staggering through a church. His people stopped bringing Bibles. They didn’t really need them.

Once, a fellow-believer and I approached him, and shared our concern. We spoke out of genuine love, respect, and care.

“Gentlemen,” he said, “before I preach, I ask the Holy Spirit to guide me. If I believed that He was not doing so, I would leave the ministry!”

This trump-card spiritual browbeating worked wonderfully for him at the time. Both of us were young Christians, and we were properly rebuked and appalled. We didn’t want him to leave the ministry! We retreated, horrified and abashed.

What you have described is something endemic throughout Western Christianity of all flavors . We all hate it. Many of us have our stories… it is abuse of authority, and not relegated to the Charismatics alone. I’m very sorry you suffered this damage.

Of course, the problem wasn’t the Holy Spirit. this is an excellent lesson to learn, and we all have to come to terms with it, worth extracting from this post to meditate upon. The problem was this man, and his faulty doctrine of the guidance of the Spirit. But like the reasoning ****Adrian sets out, he had prayed, and so he had to conclude that whatever followed was of the Spirit — or his whole structure would collapse.****

Only in your logical argument, not in the personal and subjective experience of a man with his God. This is always the problem with Christianity, it is “Come and see” and not reasoned argument into the faith of Christ. It is God revealing Himself personally to the man..

The Charismatic movement is, in large measure, the result of applying that same procedure on a massive scale.
Well, that is one general dismissal if I ever saw one. You have managed to collapse down the entire Charismatic movement, which is quite a feat. How about the Pentecostals, now? They’ve been around a bit longer.

Let me put it more personally and individually still. I can, you know; for I write as one who once thought he was speaking in tongues.

Shall I reinterpret the Bible, to legitimatize my experience?

Or shall I stick with the Bible, and let it judge my experience?

I opted for the second choice. That is why I am an ex-charismatic.
Ah, now we are down to it. It is personal with you… now why didn’t you say that at the beginning?
Continue reading Will Cessationism cease? That is the question…

Digging Deeper: Barna Deconstructed

First off, I don’t place much value in the type of research that Barna does commerce in. I think polls are about as inexact and subject to manipulation as you can get…. and still hold creedance with thinking people. But… I think that some of what is being said in Varied Musings post is worth discussing.

Varied Musings | Barna’s Finally Gone Too Far

Barna’s Finally Gone Too Far
Posted by Paul

Move over Jabez, there is a new book that is far more dangerous to the Church: George Barna’s Revolution. This is unbelievable. The whole article is available at Christianty Today’s Website.

Barna expects to see believers “choosing from a proliferation of options, weaving together a set of favored alternatives into a unique tapestry that constitutes the personal ‘church’ of the individual.” The phrase “personal ‘church’ of the individual” must be the most mind-spinning phrase ever written about the church of Jesus Christ. At any other point in church history, “personal church” would be nonsensical. In today’s America, it’s the Next Big Thing.

Barna actually argues that since all research indicates (correctly) the American Church has failed to develop mature disciples, we should actually draw away from the church and focus on a personal godly life.

Don’t get me wrong. Personal godly life is good. And necessary. But what about what the Bible says about church involvment? As with so many pragmatists, the Bible text is secondary, or simply ignored.

…It is true that the Bible doesn’t tell us exactly what our church experience should look like or what day of the week we have to meet. We can meet Sunday or Tuesday. We can wear suits or tie-dye. Sing hyms or have a marching band. Meet for 20 minutes or 2 days. God has left the method up to our convictions and our culture. However, the Bible is clear on the message and the obligation (and joy) believers have to the local church body, and using our spiritual gifts within that body.

I want to look at a couple things. One is the American Church.
Continue reading Digging Deeper: Barna Deconstructed

Moral Thresholds

slacktivist: Threshholds

Defenders of this practice point out that A) these prisoners are suspected of being very, very bad people; and B) America’s torture regime is nowhere near as widespread, systematic or brutal as the worst examples of such regimes. Point A is factually suspect, but even if 100 percent true, irrelevant. I’ll get back to that point in a future post. I want here to deal mainly with point B.

In an earlier post, I described this as the “NABA defense” — Not As Bad As. The NABA defense is, for what it’s worth, arithmetically accurate. The American prison camps in Guantanamo, Bagram, Afghanistan and elsewhere are, in fact, not as vast or as brutal as Stalin’s gulags. The American camps are also Not As Bad As the contemporary torture facilities that the U.S. occasionally subcontracts in places like Uzbekistan.

But such comparisons are beside the point. The threshhold has been crossed and conventional arithmetic no longer applies. The only relevant and meaningful comparison is between those regimes that countenance torture and those that do not. Once a nation crosses that line any difference between it and other torture regimes is inconsequential in comparison to the difference between it and those nations which have refused to cross that threshhold.

The NABA defense correctly insists that Guantanamo is different in degree from Stalin’s gulag. It is different in degree, but not in kind. And that difference of kind is the only difference that matters. America has entered the wrong category. We have crossed a threshhold.

This quote is a good example of the view of the Left, or at least the view on this matter of people in protest, who agree in principle with Durbin.

It contains both the logic and the illustration of something that I was discussing in earlier posts. There is a fundamental difference in the concept of what Americas Civitas code consists of. This is a purely moral argument, which makes its point well- which is why I want to look at it.

What I am wondering at this juncture is not whether the Left ever felt that America had never engaged in such conduct, but whether they had expected that this would be the code which they embraced and could institute. And are extremely angry that it is broached.

I am not trying to rationalize American policy here. Please understand that. I want to look at why there is true rage on the Left. I don’t think this is simply politics, as some have surmised. I think there is a conflict between the sense of ethical conduct on the Right and on the Left. It is a clash of separate ideals of Civitas, perhaps aided by the fact that we have not fought an outright declared war since WW2. And during that time there has been much change in our moral foundations.

From reading this post, I sense that there is an accepted premise that Americans do not use torture under any circumstance. Does this jive with our history in war? Where does this ideal come from?

“It is different in degree, but not in kind. ”

I must look at this, and there is a point there. My question would be whether we can wage any act of war and not have something “in kind”? Is this why the outrage at the fact that there are some civilian casualties? Were there to be none?

I am not sure of what the expectations are in dealing with continued aggression by terrorist organizations or by Muslims in the Sudan, or any tyrant or oppressor. Are we viewing some impossible perfection standard?

I do not like the descriptions of the report from Guantanamo. I admit it. But I hate the descriptions of lawless terrorism and I hate the results of the suicide bombers as well.

It is all of the utmost ugliness and tragedy.

What is the expectation in all this? Because more often than not it sounds like the children in the market place”We’re piping the tune, why don’t you dance? We’re playing a dirge now, why don’t you mourn?”

Once Saved Always Saved -but unsure?

Believe it or not, I don’t really like the type of controversy on topics like this. I know my own doubts and beliefs, but it can be difficult to give complete assent to one side or the other in some of these discussions.

Yet, I am so uncomfortable with dismissal of real points of contention within the debate, that it constrains me to add my two cents. I was about to apologize and give remonstrance that I am no theologian, but that is silly. If you are about the business of Knowing God, you become a default theologian of some sort or another.

There are distinct camps within Christianity. Two of those would be disagreed on the state of salvation in this life. One asserts eternal security in salvation, the other asserts that one may lose their salvation.

For a decent explanation of eternal security, Jollyblogger does some posts Hebrew 6 which I found via Parableman.

I tend to not accept the idea of “once saved always saved”. There are too many warnings in the Bible that a man can turn against God, can “fall away”. And other things, for which I will work off of Jollybloggers sermon.

He says,”It is true that, if you are truly saved, you cannot lose your salvation, but it is equally true that there are many who think they are saved and who aren’t.” This is one part of the eternal security arguments I really dislike. There is often talk of how people think they are saved, but they are not really, because if they were they would have remained in that state. So the reasoning goes that they were mistaken about being saved.

That is implied within Jollybloggers statement, but I don’t know if he thinks that way. Others do, and that is problematical in the understanding of salvation. I think it is unnecessarily convoluted for the express purpose of supporting the eternal security idea.

J. continues,”Warning passages are there for the purpose of calling you to stop and re-examine yourself..” I agree. I would go further than that… it also means that there is a real danger being warned of.

J continues in his next installment to discern between “the Security of Salvation and the Assurance of Salvation” . My trouble with this section is that he combines the word eternal with security. The security I can agree with. Using John 6:39-40 and John 10:27-30 , Jollyblogger expounds on security and it is true as far as he goes, no one can wrench out of the Father’s hand, but then J. says this:
“Salvation is His choice not ours”

That brings me to a full stop. There are some intricacies of the Word to understand, but this is wrong as stated. Over and over it s made very clear that we have a choice. We do choose, really and truly choose.

However there are things involved that overconcern possibly makes Jollyblogger say such an unsupportable thing. Unsupportable because Christianity is not fatalistic. We don’t just sit by and view all things as God’s Will. Or we shouldn’t, or if we do have a conflict we ought to countenance it.
This is the verse given:
“Ephesians 2:8-9 says:

By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

The grace is the gift, the faith is the vehicle by which it arrives, salvation is what happens; but there are some things on both sides of it, God chooses and we choose. Otherwise, pack away your prayers, why pray that hearts be opened and doors made into communities, and ear opened that they may hear?

Is that all some charade? Or is it necessary because there are wills on both sides of the matter? And God can shut doors and harden hearts that already have chosen and are on a path. Things that are laws within creation have already been put in motion. Our prayers can be instrumental in changing circumstances as surely as the sun stood still and the waves of the red sea rose up in a wall.

Of course if you doubt that you might have trouble seeing the usefulness or the necessity of our part in it. But someone had to put their rod out over the sea, and someone had to ask God to do these miracles.

It is hard for me to distill the many lines of scripture I see in this. Why does God plead with man? And why this:

I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.

4 For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.

5 And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me.

6 And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.

7 I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses.

8 For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour. -Isaiah 63

He looked for a man. Why? He knew He would find none, but He also knew what He was willing to do.

I am going to stop here. I ‘m not going further into this without putting forth what I deem the central part of what is missed in between ideas of security and assurance, and it is this: we have so little concept of covenant relationship and what that means that we say things like:
“Salvation is His choice not ours”

No, no, no, and the word ‘covenant’ is the crucial reason why it cannot be as stated.

Plugging In…To the Euthanasia Issue

Because there is so much discussion surrounding the Schiavo case, I felt that some further clarification of thought would be useful.

I’ve read comments from people I respect, and some from those I am indifferent to, which speak of the “passive euthanasia” or “right to die”, and similar phrases. There are often personal anecdotes of life experiences which explain their reasoning for a conviction or quandary that the discussion of Terri Schiavo is engendering.

The fear of unduly prolonging life is vibrating through many of them. This is a real concern that was last in the public eye in the Karen Quinlan case. There are so many complicating factors since that case. Ethical and economic. We should move cautiously and deliberately forward in forging out our social policies.

I, too, have personal experience with this type of situation, and with my own ambivilance. I feel strongly that what we want to address is medical procedure rights, not a right to die. If people are dying and medical procedures are prolonging that, then the DNR, ‘do not resusitate’, or the waiving of those procedures ought to be in the hands of the patient or their designated proxy.

I don’t think that we should be writing laws that grant the taking of life, for whatever medical reason, to the end that we are institutionalizing euthanasia. That is exactly the type of thing that has led to the Schiavo travesty.

The only thing comparable is criminal execution, which is why it is so horrific to see it used on innocent people. What did Terri do to deserve the deliberate termination of her life in an inhumane way? She survived, but not to the levels of that many in our society have set as acceptable. Many of us are questioning the desiribility of that criteria.

My personal experience was recently, last year, in the exercise of the medical power of attorney for my father. His wish, officially was for DNR, but before my role was activated he had made more than one choice for life prolonging procedures, including help with respiration. My father was one of those individuals who give completely opposing messages. You had to know him well to guess at what his true wishes were- and then it still was a guess.

I personally felt the importance of his life choices at the end included the chance to say goodbyes to those who meant most to him: his brothers and sisters, and his children and grandchildren. All had their opportunity, and it appeared to make a great deal of difference in his facing his end.

The weight of making choices for your loved one when they can no longer make it for themselves is immense. The opinions of doctors are often conflicting. It is hard to know who to listen to. There are factors that institutional medicine deals with that have little to do with comfort or with what is best for the patient. It is difficult to impossible to know when those things are activated in a case. So the best thing, in my personal opinion, is that we stick with patients rights to make choices in procedures, not put power to make the call for life and death into institutional or the courts hands. It is a matter of placing your proxy where you most trust it will abide by your wishes.

In spite of this, we see that Terri’s husband is primary in obstructing her care.

It appears difficult to see how Terri’s ordeal could have been circumvented by reasonably constructed law. The laws we have can only be constructed for reasonable situations, and tests in place for the unreasonable aberrations. As one blogger pointed out, what sane judge allows a husband, who has already moved on with making another family and seems to have no other interest in his wife’s welfare than to inherit her estate, make the life and death request and decision? There should be valid tests in place, to flag and divert that sort of injustice.

Not everyone will get Congress to intervene in their situation. Now is the time to place safeguards for personal rights and delinate some of the boundaries for the medical and judicial profession.

To My Comrades In Arms

Those who are my fellow fundamentalist Christians, my fellow stay at home moms, my fellow homeschoolers, …. all those who, like me, have in some way run counter culture and been solidified into a group for their own well-being….. I know you get disappointed with me.

I am just not fanatical enough, not that this endears me to the other side, but I don’t hold forth with clearly outlined “the only right way” signs for many of the favored positions.

Not that I don’t have those for certain core truths. I do. I have brightly printed banners with gut-level loyalty for those , but on many of the other issues I have modified views.
Continue reading To My Comrades In Arms

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.