What’s the difference between an Islamist and a Muslim?

Robert Spencer of JihadWatch writes:

“DHS [Department of Homeland Securiy] Secretary Jeh Johnson just said that to call the Islamic State Islamic would be “dignifying them as occupying some form of Islam.” And so here we see the cognitive dissonance clearly: the Islamic State is impatient with Syrians whom they claim know nothing about Islam, and non-Muslim authorities in the West (and Muslim authorities as well) insist that it is actually the jihadis of the Islamic State who know nothing about Islam. At very least, Western intelligence agents and policymakers should study the Islamic State’s understanding of Islam, so as to comprehend these jihadis’ motives and goals, and be able to counter them more effectively. But they will not do that, because that would lead them into study of…Islam. (Robert Spencer, “Islamic State jihadis complain that “the Syrians do not know anything of the Islamic religion”).

Most, if not all, Western leaders sing the same silly tune: ISIS has nothing to do with “peaceful” Islam. What is the touchy truth: 

All Islamists are Muslims, but not all Muslims are Islamists. Why is  this so? Because an Islamist is one who follows the letter and the spirit of the Qur’an to a Q, while many Muslims don’t. Who are the Islamists par excellence? ISIS, Al Qaeda and their ilk? The ignorant or pussilanimous refer to the latter as “radical.” In one sense, they are right – the etymological sense. “Radical” derives from the Latin root “root” (radix). Islamists go deep down into the roots of Islam, while many Muslims sit high in the branches, In sum, “Islam” in its unmutilated form is radical. That explains its mutilations, which embrace two kinds: verbal – chopping and changing Qur’anic revelations (for example, abrogation) and chopping off heads.

Most of those in the branches either encourage the radicals – or remain mum, for fear of attacking the root from which they spring and the certain repercussions coming down upon their heads.

Violence in Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Are Judaism and Christianity as violent as Islam?

Here is Raymond Ibrahim’s reply:

“There is far more violence in the Bible than in the Qur’an; the idea that Islam imposed itself by the sword is a Western fiction, fabricated during the time of the Crusades when, in fact, it was Western Christians who were fighting brutal holy wars against Islam.” (Andrea Bistrich, “Discovering the common grounds of world religions,” interview with Karen Armstrong, Share International, Sept. 2007, pp. 19-22).

So announces former nun and self-professed “freelance monotheist,” Karen Armstrong. This quote sums up the single most influential argument currently serving to deflect the accusation that Islam is inherently violent and intolerant: All monotheistic religions, proponents of such an argument say, and not just Islam, have their fair share of violent and intolerant scriptures, as well as bloody histories. Thus, whenever Islam’s sacred scriptures—the Qur’an first, followed by the reports on the words and deeds of Muhammad (the Hadith)—are highlighted as demonstrative of the religion’s innate bellicosity, the immediate rejoinder is that other scriptures, specifically those of Judeo-Christianity, are as riddled with violent passages.

Read on here. http://www.raymondibrahim.com/islam/are-judaism-and-christianity-as-violent-as-islam/

Abrogadabra in the Qur’an: abrogation and/or substituting something for something better

Islam teaches that the Qur’an, being the Word of God, is eternal. The problem is that the Word of God cannot be separate from Allah because that would mean that it, like Allah, is also a divine eternal being, which would mean the existence of more than one divine eternal being. Only God is eternal, therefore, not only Allah would be a God, so would Allah’s Word be a God. One way out of the “duonundrum” might be to say that God and his Word are One. This, alas would militate against the Islamic idea that God cannot consists of parts. So this won’t do.

Another problem with the Islamic idea of the eternality of the Qur’an is its doctrine of “abrogation,” which it says is not abrogation. What else can this verse mean?

Surah 2:106

None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that Allah Hath power over all things? (“We” is the “royal we”).

The problem is that if the Qur’an has been residing in the bosom of the all-knowing, all-perfect, all-good Allah from all eternity, why would it contain a plethora of substitutions of something better, which implies change, becoming, time-bound. I am reminded of the open theist whose God is not totally free but merely reacts to human decisions, and arranges his thoughts and actions accordingly.

Examples from the Qur’an: 1. Allah decrees that Muslims are not allowed more than four wives. Later the revelation comes down of something better for Mohammed who ends up with 9 wives or more. 2. Mohammed desires his adopted son-in-law’s wife, but feels this desire wrong. Then something better comes down and says something better – not in the vein of the Joseph-Mary incident – when Allah reveals to Mohammed that it’s ok to take this woman to wife.

There are many more “something betters” in the Qur’an, which I won’t mention here.

Excerpt from “The Quran’s Doctrine of Abrogation” by Abdullah Al Araby http://www.islamreview.com/articles/quransdoctrineprint.htm

In an attempt to polish Islam’s image, Muslim activists usually quote verses from the Quran that were written in the early days of the Islamic movement while Mohammed lived in Mecca. Those passages make Islam appear loving and harmless because they call for love, peace and patience. Such is a deception. The activists fail to tell gullible people that such verses, though still in the Quran, were nullified, abrogated, rendered void by later passages that incite killing, decapitations, maiming, terrorism and religious intolerance. The latter verses were penned while Mohammed’s headquarters was based in Medina.

When speaking with people of Christianized/Western societies, Muslim activists deliberately hide a major Islamic doctrine called “al-Nasikh wal-Mansoukh” (the Abrogator and the Abrogated). This simply means that in situations wherein verses contradict one another, the early verses are overridden by the latter verses. The chronological timing in which a verse was written determines its authority to establish policies within Islam. Non-Muslims cannot afford to be ignorant about the full implications of the Abrogator and the Abrogated Doctrine (al-Nasikh wal-Mansoukh). When Islamic spokesmen say that Islam is a religion of peace and that the Quran does not support such things as human rights infractions, gender bias and terrorism, they are lying. This means that the Western politicians and liberal journalists, who continually spout that Islam is a noble religion of peace, are in reality propagating a deception that they have been deceived into parroting.

Abrogation – ok then “substitute something better” – only makes sense in open theism. Any other attempt to explain it is nothing more than abrogadabra.

Related Article: “The problem of abrogation in the Qur’an.” http://answering-islam.org/Authors/Farooq_Ibrahim/abrogation.htm

Islamic State: “Allah has revealed Islam to be the religion of the sword, and the evidence for this is…profuse.”

Islamic State: “Allah has revealed Islam to be the religion of the sword, and the evidence for this is…profuse.”

Cognitive dissonance: Bush, Obama, David Cameron and a host of others insist that Islam is a religion of peace. The Islamic State, which they claim has nothing to do with Islam, quotes the Qur’an copiously to establish that Islam is actually a religion of the sword that calls for permanent war against Infidels. Would it be permissible to examine the Qur’an to try to determine which claim is more accurate? Or would that be “Islamophobic”?

http://www.jihadwatch.org/2015/02/islamic-state-allah-has-revealed-islam-to-be-the-religion-of-the-sword-and-the-evidence-for-this-is-profuse#comments

is Islam an ideology or a religion?

 

One of the marked and remarked, but certainly unremarkable, human traits is ensuring where your bread is buttered. In modern politics, nowhere is this truth more evident than in “Islamophobia” wherein so much dread is muttered.

Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician, and very brave, is, in most of what he says on the issue, right on the money; for example, his address to the Danish Parliament. He makes the important distinction between Muslims and Islam, which “muticulturalists” do not make. “Multiculturalists” distinguish between “radical” Islam and “true” Islam, where the latter is a religion of peace; it’s just those radical nasties. In other words, they say there’s nothing to phobe but Islamophobia itself. (See James White: What more does every Christian need to know about Islam and the Qur’an).

If we return to the root of the word “radical” we find it means “root.” So, etymologically speaking, “radical” Islam is the root of Islam. There is no escaping the truth that Islam is rooted in violence. Muslims and Islamophiles say that the violence in the Qur’an is only against those who fight Muslims. Balderdash. If you prove your case by quoting the Qur’an, that is considered Islamophobia.

Geert Wilders calls Islam an ideology, not a religion. By “ideology,” I think he means a man-made system with political goals; and by “religion” he means beliefs and practice based on divine revelation. The point,  though, is that Muslims assert that their beliefs and practice are indeed based on divine revelation, Therefore for them,  Islam is indeed a religion.

Sam Shamoun, a critic of Islam, explains why Islam is not merely a political system – an “ideology.”

“I hope my intention is not to be unnecessarily offensive to Muslims but at the same time I don’t want to sugar coat what Islam actually teaches, because here is a man who claims to be a prophet of the same God as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who comes to complete and perfect a religion practised and proclaimed by all the Biblical prophets including our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. A man who says that Jesus, the Son of God, did not come in the flesh. A man who says that Jesus did not die on the cross and rose again victorious as proof that he died in our place in order to do for us that which we could not do for ourselves. A man who says that if you say that Jesus is the divine Son of God you are an enemy to Allah, and he (Mohammed) will fight you. So that when we deal with Muhammad, we’re dealing with eternal matters, not simply a political game. We’re not talking about politics: “Well if Muhammad is wrong then the only consequences you suffer are temporal, earthly.” We are talking about a man who is commanding people to stake their eternal destinies on his claims.” (Why did Muhammad wear women’s clothing? Minute 20 ff).

Among so-called “radical” Muslim groups, there probably are members who don’t follow the Qur’an, who join these groups solely to gratify their lust for rape, pillage and blood – the extreme expression of the radical corruption of human nature. But many of these “radical” members are devout followers of the one they call Allah and the one they call his prophet. Here’s the rub: the so-called divinely inspired Islamic literature gives believers the right and privilege to rape, maim, kill and destroy those who do not believe in Allah and his prophet. It is Islamophiles who are the true Islamophobes. Being pussylanimous scaredy cats, they call anyone who quotes the violent truths in the Qur’an Islamophobes. They want a peaceful life, no upsetting of apple carts. To criticise Islam is to invite disruption, and the violent defence – taught in the Qur’an and Hadiths – of the honour of Allah and his messenger. “Better dread than dead.”

James White: What more does every Christian need to know about Islam and the Qur’an?

James R. White is not Jewish, alas. But I don’t mind. What matters is he’s a Calvinist AND worships Jesus, like I do, that is not to say we worship the same way. He, like me, is a five-point Calvinist, so a consistent one: no fudging with total depravity (radical corruption) and particular (“limited” atonement). I learn much from his books, debates and “Dividing line” podcast.

What I want to talk about here is White’s critique of Islam, mostly very sound. He wrote a good book “What every Christian needs to know about Islam.” What I have noticed is that there is one topic on Islam he never debates or writes about, which I suggest every Christian, indeed everybody, needs to know about. I’m thinking of the violence in Islam; not merely among Muslims, but in the Islamic literature itself – the Qur’an and the Hadiths.

When White does talk about violence in Islam, it is in the vein of most Western politicians where the distinction is made between “radical” Islam and the “true” Islam, which they say isis (oops) a religion of peace; it’s just those radical nasties. In other words, they say there’s nothing to phobe but Islamophobia itself.

Here is White on his Dividing Line podcast of August 7, 1914. He is lambasting Theodore Shoebat’s “Islamophobia”:

[I italicise salient parts. My comments appear in italics after each paragraph]

I happen to know that there is a cottage industry of real Islamophobia. I would describe Islamophobia as if you were someone who was trying to make every one afraid of every Muslim in the world, that would be true Islamophobia. If you cannot recognise that in a group of a billion people are all different kinds of people with different perspectives, standings and beliefs, if you try to say that all of Islam is the same and fail to recognise this, I ‘ve no more respect for that. It’s very easy to do by the way. If you want to divide people, that is how you do it. It’s us against them. Problem is, man I really get angry when people do that to me. I really get angry when I am held accountable for the Crusades, for the pornocracy of the papacy in Rome, for the sales of indulgences, all that kind of stuff … Homosexual marriage, abortion. From the world’s perspective they’re all Christians because you can just throw them into one pile right? Well no, you can’t.

About the Crusades:
“President Obama, writes Ravi Zacharias, basically lectured Christians not to get on a moral high horse in their castigation of the ISIS atrocities by reminding them that the Crusades and slavery were also justified in the name of Christ. Citing the Crusades, he used the single most inflammatory word he could have with which to feed the insatiable rage of the extremists. That is exactly what they want to hear to feed their lunacy.” (Ravi Zacharias – A presidential blunder: My response to Obama’s address at the National Prayer Breakfast).

Christianity should not be coupled with the violence of the Crusades. In passing, the crusadfers were not invading lands that belonged to Muslims but lands that Muslims had – with Muhammad and later his “companions, at the vanguard – taken by the sword.

White continues:

Does it take effort and time and energy to differentiate between those Muslim groups. You tell the difference even by just looking at the people I’ve debated among the Muslims. Can’t you discern real distinctions between them not only in their positions but on their mind set and their perspectives. If you can’t, I can for sure. And so I would say that islamophobia is when you try to paint all Muslims with the same broad brush which would mean Christophobia when you do that to Christians. I am concerned that I see some serious islamophobia on the Shoebat website because I don’t see any recognition that there are Muslims other than the radical bloodthirsty animals that we see going after the Azidi right now and killing Christians and fellow Muslims right left and centre. These are obviously demonic people. Then when you have that reality and make it an us versus them get your sword, kill everybody that looks like them attitude and mindset, that is when things really go wrong.”

There is indeed no need to be afraid of every Muslim in the world, because, as White says, in every society there are violent types and peaceful types. I would add that as long as most Muslims either remain ignorant or not care much about what the Qur’an (and Hadiths) teach, most Muslims won’t want to chop off the heads of Kafirs (unbelievers) and apostates. What does White mean by “Islam in “his if you try to say that all of Islam is the same and fail to recognise this, I ‘ve no more respect for that. It’s very easy to do by the way?” If he means the practise of Islam, then there is no doubt about that, but if by Islam he means its texts, then this is incorrect. The Qur’an and the Hadiths are chock full of knocking off the blocks and such like of unbelievers and apostates. The latter are those who do not do everything that Allah and Muhammad have commanded. Where do I end quoting the bucketfuls of verses on this matter! White says about Isis, “these are obviously demonic people.” But Isis is faithful to the Qur’an and Hadiths. The way White is talking you’d think he was unaware of the violence in the Qur’an.

The issue is not the (mal)practise of a religion but religious texts. Muslims do point to the violence in the Hebrew scriptures where God commands the Israelites to kill entire communities. What, though, I am arguing here is that Muslims and ignorant or frightened or politically correct Westerners say that Islam (by that they mean non-violent Muslims) is a religion of peace. Yes, peace when they are in the minority. But wait until they – the coming generation or two – are 30-40% of the European population, they’ll follow the example of their prophet by forcing Kafirs to submit. As more than one person has said, Islam is the fastest growing forced religion in the world. Europe’s turn is round the corner.

1 hour 8 minutes into his podcast, White expresses his disgust at Theodore Shoebat posting a video of an Arabaic teacher in a Muslim country talking about the definition of kafir. Here is White: “At one point he (the teacher) says to them, ‘So what do we do with kafirs ( those who have a differing religious belief)? We slaughter them.’ “And that, says White , is what the Inquisition did. The same mindset. It’s frightening. It should be frightening to you. Frightening to me.”

The Inquisition, not the Gospel, is demonic. What is really frightening is that the reason why that teacher tells his pupils to slay the unbeliever is because he is faithful to his demons, to his Qur’an.

Surah 9:5 When the sacred months are over slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent and take to prayer and render the alms levy, allow them to go their way. God is forgiving and merciful. (For background and context see THE VERSE OF THE SWORD: SURA 9:5 AND JIHAD).

Is Islam sort of devilish? Six reasons

 

When we say someone is Jewish, we don’t mean someone who wishes to be a Jew, nor do we mean someone who is a sort of Jew, as in deadish – sort of dead, reddish – sort of red; a bit dead, a bit red.

The English suffix ish has the meanin “sort of.” In Hebrew, though, ish is the noun “man.” What I want to talk about here is not whether humans are born dead in sin, that is, radically corrupt, deadish in sin, that is, partially corrupt (as in Roman Catholicism and much of Protestantism) or pure (as in Judaism, Islam and Atheism), but about whether it is right for one religion to call another religion devilish, whether in the sense of being totally inspired by the devil, or in the sense of being partially inspired, that is “sort of” inspired by the devil – yes devilish, but….

Here is Colin Chapman’s “yes-but” in his “Going Soft on Islam?” Vox Evangelica 19 (1989): 7-32.

Among the many visiting speakers who preached in the mid-week service during my days at the old London Bible College in Marylebone Road was a missionary who at that time was working in North Africa. I don’t remember his name, but I do remember his message, because it made a profound impact on me. His text was John 8 and he spoke about the challenge of Muslim evangelism. The main thrust of his message was that we cannot begin to have an effective ministry with Muslims until and unless we appreciate what we are dealing with in Islam….Just as Jesus was prepared to say to the Jewish leaders ‘You are of your father the Devil’ (John 8:44), so we today must recognize

that Islam is a religion inspired by the Devil, and therefore must think of our ministry among Muslims in terms of a confrontation with him. I never forgot that address, and it continued to challenge me during my years in Egypt.”

He asks: Is Islam inspired by the Devil? His response:

If I have to give a short and immediate answer to this question, it would consist of two words: ‘Yes… but’. In case I am laying myself open to misunderstanding, let me say right from the start that I do believe without hesitation that ‘the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers…’ (2 Cor 4:4). I do believe that ‘our struggle is… against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’ (Eph 6:12). 1 do also believe that ‘Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light’ (2 Cor 11:14). I am convinced that all these verses are thoroughly relevant to our thinking about other faiths and ideologies. I want to suggest, however, that there is a real danger in coming too easily and too quickly to the conclusion that Islam is a religion inspired by the Devil.”

Chapman gives six reasons for this conclusion.

[My contribution appear sin italics after each of his reasons].

Here are my six reasons for being hesitant about using these categories too freely in our teaching about Islam.”

Reason 1

Why single out Islam for special mention? What about Communism? What about the

godless Humanism of the West today? What about some of the demonic forces at work in parts of the Christian world, like Northern Ireland? When some Christians speak as if Islam is The Enemy No 1 in the world today, I wonder if they are not getting things out of proportion.”

What has this response got to do with the price of pork? Chapman is misdirecting. The topic is Islam, not other movements. First deal with Islam, then we can compare, if there’s time or the necessity.

Reason 2

An overemphasis on the role of Satan in Islam can easily prevent us as Christians from facing up to the terrible record of the Christian church in its relations with Muhammad and his followers. Attributing everything in Islam to demonic forces allows us, so to speak, to ‘pass the buck’, and fail to recognize the responsibility of the Christian church in all that has happened. The very existence of Islam can be seen as a judgement on the Christian church, and the record of the church over centuries in its relations with Islam should leave us with a sense of shame… [R]esorting too quickly to the explanation that Islam is inspired by the Devil may mean that we are letting ourselves off the hook too lightly, and that we never recognize the responsibility of the Christian church for all that has happened in the past.”

Misdirection again. Hey you hypercritical, hypocritical Christians, YOU also are a devilish bunch.

Reason 3

If we teach that all other religions are inspired by the Devil, some Christians jump to the conclusion that people of other faiths must therefore by definition be possessed by evil powers. If you think this sounds exaggerated, I must explain that I have more than once encountered this way of thinking in our students at Trinity, and I find it most in those who have been deeply influenced by the Charismatic Movement and the Signs and Wonders Movement. It is obvious that there are occult practices in some forms of Folk Islam, and I have no difficulty whatever in believing in demon possession. But I don’t believe it is either true or helpful to suggest that every Muslim must be treated as a case of demonic possession.”

It does not necessarily follow that “if we teach that all other religions [besides Christianity] are inspired by the Devil” that “some Christians jump to the conclusion that people of other faiths must therefore by definition be possessed by evil powers.” The reason why we (Christians] should teach that other religions are inspired by the devil is because the New Testament says that all religions that reject the incarnation of the Son of God are from Satan, the deceiver.

John 1

1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…1And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

1 John 4:2

This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.”

2 John 1:7

[M]any deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.”

Revelation 12:9

And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”

Reason 4

We are probably influenced more than we realize by stereotypes of Islam which we have inherited from the past. It wasn’t for purely biblical and theological reasons that our

forefathers in the Eastern churches and in Europe thought of Islam in these terms. There were many other cultural, political and psychological factors which were at work not so far below the surface.”

Chapman never quotes the Qur’an or the Hadiths. I listened to his six-part lecture series. Not one quote from any Islamic source, but only about what Muslims say about their texts. There is so many distortions of the Bible in the Qur’an. Gospelygook. The Qur’an says that Jesus did not die. Without the incarnation, propitiatory death and resurrection, there is no Gospel. Did Allah deceive the Christians? If so. He is a bigger deceiver than Satan. And to top it, Allah’s directive to follow HIS Injil (Gospel).

Surah 4:157. That they said (in boast)

“We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary the Apostle of Allah”;

but they killed him not nor crucified him

but so it was made to appear to them

and those who differ therein are full of doubts

with no (certain) knowledge but only conjecture to follow

for of a surety they killed him not.

4:158. Nay Allah raised him up unto Himself; …

The Qur’an distorts the Trinity

Surah 5:73-75

They have certainly disbelieved who say, ” Allah is the third of three.” And there is no god except one God. And if they do not desist from what they are saying, there will surely afflict the disbelievers among them a painful punishment.

Surah 5:116  And behold! God will say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of God’?” He will say: “Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden.

The Qur’an is strewn with dozens of mutilations of the Bible.

Reason 5

When I find Christians interpreting the contemporary revival of Islam, especially in the

Middle East, simply in terms of the work of Satan, my reaction is to plead that this can lead to a terrible oversimplification of complex issues. This revival is to some extent a response to centuries of European colonialism, and we cannot understand what has been happening in countries like Iran if we do not even attempt to appreciate the many cultural, political and economic factors that have been involved. I believe we need to be aware that simple explanations expressed in purely spiritual terms can easily have the effect of preventing us from getting to grips with the complexities of history and politics.”

Any religion that is based on what it considers to be divine revelation embodied in a text, will base its thoughts and actions on these texts. Islam is no exception. Much in the Qur’an and the Hadiths conflict wit the Bible. For this reason, Christians worth their biblical salt believe that the more faithful a Muslim is to his Islamic sources, the more he is inspired by the devil.

You hear much today from Western politicians that pure Islam is not radical, that it is not violent. Chapman at the beginning of his lecture 5 on Islam says some Muslims are for violence, some are against. He doesn’t say quote the Qur’an. In an earlier lecture he says some Muslims believe that the later actions about peace abrogate the earlier bits about violence. A Muslim who believes that doesn’t know much about his Qur’an. In fact, the peaceful bits are abrogated by the violent bits. For example,

Surah 2:256: “There is no compulsion in religion” is abrogated by Surah 9:73, 123:

O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites! Be harsh with them…. (9:73)

O ye who believe! Fight those of the disbelievers who are near to you, and let them find harshness in you…. (9:123).

Radical” Islam takes the Islamic texts seriously – therefore, they’re violent towards all non-Muslims as well as those they believe are merely cultural, social, political Muslims. Maajid Nawaz is, though he might disagree, one of the latter. Nawaz is the liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn and co-founder and chairman of Quilliam, a counter-extremism think tank.

We Muslims, says Nawaz, must admit there are challenging Koranic passages that require reinterpretation today. Let us use existing tools of exegesis, such as specificity, restriction, abrogation and metaphor. Vacuous literalism as an interpretive method must be abandoned. It is bankrupt. Only by rejecting vacuous literalism are we able to condemn, in principle, ISIS-style slavery, beheading, lashing, amputation and other medieval practices forever (all of which are in the Qur’an). This is a struggle within Islam. Reformers either win, and get religion-neutral politics, or lose, and get ISIL-style theocracy.” (Source).

Isis takes the Qur’an “literally,” that is, “literaturely.” It studies the words as one would study any language, and accepts what the words (letters – Latin litera) mean, not what they, contrary to Maajid Nawaz, want them to mean. “Moderate” Muslims believe that Isis is an illiterate, uneducated bunch. One thing I will say in their favour, if they were in my language class assuming they were English speakers – for example that man (”ish” in Hebrew) alleged to be Brit-Ish), who loves circumcising (“brit” in Hebrew) the heads offf journalists for Allah – they would pass my reading course. If only they could could graduate to a course in post-modernism and post-structuralism, they could then metaphorise and morphorise (morph – change meaning) the words of Allah, shimmering on every page of the Qur’an.

Surah 6:114 – [Say], “Then is it other than Allah I should seek as judge while it is He who has revealed to you the Book explained in detail?” And those to whom We [previously] gave the Scripture know that it is sent down from your Lord in truth, so never be among the doubters.

Surah 57:9 – It is He who sends down upon His Servant [Muhammad] verses of clear evidence that He may bring you out from darknesses into the light. And indeed, Allah is to you Kind and Merciful.

Sahih International

While Isis wallows in a sea of depravity, in which they, like all of us, were born, Maajid Nawaz prefers to muddy the waters, clearly out of his out of his comfort zone, and thus out of his depth.

Reason 6

Some Christians use the language of the demonic to explain things that are culturally

strange and foreign to them. I remember some Christian friends saying to me before I first went to Cairo, that when they spent some days there they felt an atmosphere of evil in the city. I often used to think and worry about what they had said, because I came to love Cairo with all its crowds and dust and smells and broken pavements. Was it that I was spiritually blind to what was there in the atmosphere, or was it that my friends used the demonic to explain those aspects of the culture with which they couldn’t cope?”

Christians can be a silly lot.

Perhaps, says Chapman, the answer lies somewhere in between. But my basic fear about explaining Islam in terms of the Satanic is that it can become an easy way out. It absolves us from the need to face up to those areas where judgement may need to begin with the household of God (1 Pet 4:17), and saves us from the hard work of coming to terms with all those pastoral, psychological, political and cultural factors which come into the equation. Is Islam inspired by the Devil? I hope it is clear from what I have said that my ‘Buts’ do not turn my original ‘Yes’ into a ‘No!’ They are intended not to make it ‘die the death of a thousand qualifications’, but rather to qualify the simple ‘Yes’ and to encourage us to get beyond our favourite neat, simplistic answers.”

Indeed, “explaining Islam in terms of the Satanic… can become an easy way out [and can, if we let it] absolve us from the need to face up to those areas where judgement may need to begin with the household of God.”

Yep, it’s called radical corruption, the state in which all without exception or born. What is important is that Christians should learn more about Islam, if only for the reason that if they are going to blab about Islam, they’ll know what they’re blabbing about. And when they read the Qur’an they don’t need to worry about becoming bewitched and enslaved by its power, because they should learn that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). These forces occupy the earthly realm as well.

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:1-4).

I wonder whether Colin Chapman and Maajid Nawaz ever shared a cuppa together. Wish I could be a fly in the wings, if not in the cup. (The fly in the tea-cup: A lesson from the Hadith…”).

Related: David Wood – How ISIS Radicalizes Young Muslims

The logic of Islamorphobia

Law of contradiction: A cannot be not-A

Morph (transitive verb): To change the form or character of

With regard to modern violence among Muslims, Muslims and ignorant-and-scared non-Muslims (the vast majority of Westerners) say that only a minority of Muslims are to blame, that true Islam is about peace.

In the video “The myth of the tiny minority” David Wood is in conversation with a regular Muslim caller, Manna. Bill Warner, a Muslim scholar, is an invited guest.

[My clarifications in square brackets]

Mannu

I’m surprised that you are defending Isis as being Islamic when it is criminal misguided sect that both the majority of Sunnis and Shias believe are breaking multiple, multiple points of Qur’an and the Sunnah.” Mannu gives the “top three of them.” 1. “Killing the people who have surrendered without them (the people) fighting them (Isis). 2. Killing Sunni clerics who did not approve of their brand of Jihad. 3. They have stolen from the Muslim Ummah when they sacked all the banks in Mosul and other areas. These are all major, major areas of breaking Islamic Sunnah. And including what they had done in the past with the villagers they had kicked out in Syria because the fact that they were retaliating against people that they had even sided with the opposition with other groups that they were in conflict with [I’m not clear what he means, but it seems that he is saying that Isis kicked the villagers out in spit of the fact they were fighting on the side opposed to Assad].”

“If you put that together with what Muhammad did when he was victorious and came back to Makka [Mecca], and all his enemies he had, he said “remain in your houses, you’re safe, and the majority of people who remained in their houses there was no fighting. This group [Isis] has broken many many rules in Islam.”

[Ummah is the Muslim community. Sunnah is the way of life prescribed as normative for Muslims on the basis of the teachings and practices of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and interpretations of the Qur’an].

David Wood

“Mannu began by saying how can you say that Isis is Islamic when so many Muslims condemn them? What have we been saying this entire program? It’s not what this or that Muslim says; it is whether the Qur’an and the Hadiths agree [with them]. You’re not allowed to kill people who have surrendered? That is absolute nonsense. Well you can say that Muhammad didn’t kill the people who surrendered at Mecca, but when the Qurayzah [a Jewish tribe] surrendered to them, what did he do? He hauled them into the market place and chopped their heads off; big piles of heads. So, according to Mannu, Muhammad was not Islamic because he killed people who had surrendered….Yes, in Mecca he let many people off the hook until Surah 9:5 came down [the final statute on how to deal with unbelievers]. You cannot lay down what you said about Muhammad] as a blanket rule.”

[Surah 9:5 When the sacred months are over slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent and take to prayer and render the alms levy, allow them to go their way. God is forgiving and merciful. See The verse of the sword: Surah 9:5 and Jihad).

Bill Warner

Mannu has brought up a very interesting principle about Islam but he did this in an oblique way. I maintain that there are only two principles in Islam that are of real importance. The one is submission, the other is dualism. Both the Qur’an and Muhammad’s Sunnah are filled with dualistic statements. Yes it is true that in Mecca the prisoners weren’t killed, but at other times he did this. The important point is this: In almost very issue of `Islam there are two right answers: yes you can kill prisoners, and – isn’t there a Qur’anic verse that you should even take prisoners until there is a great slaughter in the land [give VERSE]. But the point is, and this is the trickiest thing about Islam, it always has two truths that always contradict each other. Now in our logic, in Western logic, if you have two statements that contradict each other, at least one of them must be wrong. But in Islamic logic, no: killing prisoners is Sunnah and not killing prisoners is Sunnah. This is what makes Islam so contradictory; its nature is contradiction.

David Wood

“It seems you can go to the Muslim sources and pull out anything.”

Might I add, “And pull the wool over stupid liberal eyes.”

Related:

The Islamic dilemma regarding the Qur’an and the Bible.

Bill Warner – “Why are we afraid? A fourteen-hundred-year old secret.”

On snobbish felines and the will to believe in Christ

On Snobbish Felines and the Freedom of the Human Will
POSTED BY AARON DENLINGER

Our local veterinary clinic — where our dog, for reasons I’d rather not relate, is not welcome — has a letter board on their grounds which typically displays humorous messages about animals. The message on display earlier this week caught my attention as I was driving to work. It read: “If cats could talk, they wouldn’t.” I must confess, this made me smirk — which is generally as close as I come to laughing. I’m no despiser of cats in principle, but they do strike me as the kind of creatures that, were they suddenly endowed with the ability to speak in human language, wouldn’t condescend to actually say anything to anyone. The sign made me wonder, in fact, if cats might not actually have the ability to speak, and simply don’t because they can’t be bothered communicating their thoughts to human beings, creatures so clearly inferior to them in every conceivable way. Can we really be sure they cannot speak if, regardless, they will not speak?
– See more at: http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2015/01/on-snobbish-felines-and-the-fr.php#.dpuf

Yes, Christ came to save the lost. But which ones?

I was telling a fellow Christian of my visit to an elderly man, a frequent church-goer, whom we both knew, who had collapsed twice in the last month, and was recovering at home. He was doing well and walking about. I spoke to him about such things as this world was not our home, and about judgment. My fellow Christian said to me he’s a simple person and wouldn’t understand. My fellow Christian does not understand who Christ came to seek. Yes, we know it was the “lost” but then everyone is lost, and Christ only came to seek those whom his Father gave him before the world began, and those whom the Father enabled to believe. Not so?

John 6

37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”… 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”

Who were the ones given to the Son? They were the fools, the weak, the lowly, the despised, the nothings of this world. Unless you felt like this before you believed, and continue to feel so, it is certain that you’re not one of the lost Christ came to seek and died to save.

1 Corinthians 1

26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

The ten most beautiful Jewish words in the New Testament: Let his blood…

Ann Barnhardt, a Roman Catholic, says there are “the ten most beautiful words” in the New Testament that should be music to Jewish ears. Instead, thanks to stupid Christians, she says, Jews execrate this verse.

In the first part of her Boston speech, she says (video minute 8:14):

“Now to the ten most beautiful words in the New Testament. Every Jew watching this has heard these words and shudders every time they’ve heard them. These ten words have been twisted by stupid, ignorant people, who justify horrific acts of evil against the Jews for 1978 years and counting, And many of these people will claim to be pious Christians. Well, we’re going to fix this deal once and for all. The ten most beautiful words are: “Let his blood be on us and upon our children.” These are the ten words shouted by the Jewish crowd as Pontius Pilate was sentencing Jesus. I day these words internally at every Mass because these are the words that give hope to humanity. These are the words tht open the gates of heaven. These are the words by means of which our salvation is accomplished….”

Continues into Part 2

[Words in square brackets are mine].

“…at every Mass, the temporally [in time] transcendent sacrifice at Calvary, which is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ himself, which is re-presented [NOTE not “represented”] to God the Father by the power of God, the Holy Ghost. This is accomplished through the transubstantiation of bread and wine as prefigured by the priestly kingdom of Melchisedech in Genesis Chapter 14. This sacrifice is the Todah sacrifice of Israel, which is the only sacrifice to be offered in the post-messianic age and do all eternity according to ancient rabbinic teaching. The Todah sacrifice is the sacrifice of thanksgiving. The word “thanksgiving” in Greek is (pause) “Eucharist.”

I won’t comment on Barnhardt’s “Todah” reference but on what should be the “ten most beautiful words” for Jews. It is difficult to see how one confining oneself to the context of the passage in which “Let his blood be upon us and upon our children” appears can interpret this to mean a blessing, the greatest blessing!, for the Jews. Surely, the Jews who said that couldn’t have meant that sending Jesus to crucifixion was the answer to all their sacrifices and prayers.

Roman Catholicism, because of its belief in extra-biblical revelation, brings more (or less) – it will deny that it does so – to the scripture than what is found there. I suggest that concerning the “ten most beautiful words,” Barnhardt, in submission to Rome, has followed the Pope Benedict’s lead. (See Pope Benedict’s retake of “Let his blood…). 

The full text of Barnhardt’s Boston speech can be found here.

 

Under that spell: Infant baptism in Reformed theology

 

A follow-on from The barque of Peter: The least leaky boat.

As is common knowledge among the uncommon, Roman Catholicism, as in Talmudic Judaism, teaches that there are two kinds of divine revelation: scripture and tradition. I, a Protestant, have found in discussions with Roman Catholics that they try to appeal to scripture alone, probably in an attempt to defeat – yes, it’s a battle – the “scripture alone” camp on their own ground. It’s a mysterium why they need to do that; after all, the reason why they belong to the Roman branch of the church is because they have handed over all authority on scriptural interpretation to the Roman Pontiff and his Magisterium. I focus on the Roman dogma of infant baptismal regeneration.

The Catholic Church teaches: “Through baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1213). Many baptised babies (reborn as children of God, born of the Spirit) never come to have faith in Christ, yet, according to “baptismal regeneration” they once were children of God. The term “children of God,” in the New Testament, however, only refers to believers in Christ:

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God… (John 1:12).

And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6).

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him” (1 John 3:1).

If, though, the Roman Church decides to call baptised babies the children of God, there is no reason why its apologists (defenders) should have qualms about saying to us Protestants “Rome has spoken.”

What about the Reformers’ view of baptism, for example, Luther and Calvin. By golly, they also believed in infant baptism (paedobaptism). In Calvin, it looks as if he believed in baptismal regeneration as well. How else to interpret his words below?

We ought to consider that at whatever time we are baptised, we are washed and purified once for
the whole of life. Wherefore, as often as we fall, we must recall the remembrance of our baptism,
and thus fortify our minds, so as to feel certain and secure of the remission of sins. For though,
when once administered, it seems to have passed, it is not abolished by subsequent sins. For the
purity of Christ was therein offered to us, always is in force, and is not destroyed by any stain: it
wipes and washes away all our defilements.
Calvin: Institutes of Christian Religion 4.15.3.

Whatever Protestant paedobaptists mean by baptism, it is bizarre to link it to regeneration. I cannot agree that in baptism “the
purity of Christ was therein offered to us, always is in force, and is not destroyed by any stain: it
wipes and washes away all our defilements.”

How could baptism wipe away an infant’s defilements. After all, many, indeed most, who are baptised as babies never make a profession of faith, which is required to wash away “all defilements.” Only those who believe in Jesus as their saviour are called – in the New Testament – the “children of God.” Calvin speaks like a Roman Catholic on the matter. In my view, infant baptism makes no biblical sense because it is not linked to faith in Christ.

By the way, there are many “Calvinists” who do not believe in infant baptism. Great names (in Protestantism) are Charles Spurgeon, John Gill and John Bunyan. A modern stalwart is Steve Lawson. In a lecture in his series on the Attributes of God, he was told that he shouldn’t call himself an adherent of the “Reformed” tradition (for example, Calvin, Luther) because he did not adhere to all of the Reformers’ doctrines such as paedobaptism. Lawson replied:

I presupposes that Calvin, the Dutch reformers, that Luther were right on everything. And I don’t believe that they were. To be as covenental as they are, I can go to a certain extent with them but obviously I’m not baptising babies. I would say in reality those that hold to those confessions (for example, the Westminster Confession) are not reformed enough. I think I am more reformed than they are. So, I would revers the question: “Why are they not Reformed?” I think they only took a partial step away from the Catholic Church. And I think they remained under some Catholic spell as it relates to infant baptism. And I think, ads one who is “baptistic,” that we went further in the reform, according to scripture. And as it relates to the Confessions, in some sense, sola scriptura (scripture alone) is the only confession that I have. There is no baby baptised in the Bible. You can’t point to any verse in the Bible where a bay is baptised. So, I have gone further in my reform away from the Catholic Church.” (“Attributes of God 5,” minute 32 ff. This is the link to all 14 wonderful mp3 lectures).

Pope Benedict’s retake of “His blood be on us and on our children!” (Matthew 27:25)

Ann Barnhardt, a Roman Catholic, is a very knowledgeable and courageous person. I thought, though, her use of bacon strips as bookmarks in her Qur’an-burning episode was going too far. What I want to raise here is her interpretation, which is probably her popes’ interpretation, of what she says is “the ten most beautiful words in the New Testament,” which she says should be music to Jewish ears. Instead, thanks to stupid Christians, she adds , these words make Jews to shudder. In the first part of her Boston speech, she says (minute 8:14): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quVmg1c99HY&feature=youtube_gdata_player “Now to the ten most beautiful words in the New Testament. Every Jew watching this has heard these words and shudders every time they’ve heard them. These ten words have been twisted by stupid, ignorant people, who justify horrific acts of evil against the Jews for 1978 years and counting, And many of these people will claim to be pious Christians. Well, we’re going to fix this deal once and for all. The ten most beautiful words are: “Let his blood be on us and upon our children.” These are the ten words shouted by the Jewish crowd as Pontius Pilate was sentencing Jesus. I say these words internally at every Mass because these are the words that give hope to humanity. These are the words tht open the gates of heaven. These are the words by means of which our salvation is accomplished….” Continues into Part 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2tJzGSvLBA&feature=youtube_gdata_player [Words in square brackets are mine]. “…at every Mass, the temporally [in time] transcendent sacrifice at Calvary, which is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ himself, which is re-presented [NOTE not “represented” – that is, merely remembered] to God the Father by the power of God, the Holy Ghost. This is accomplished through the transubstantiation of bread and wine as prefigured by the priestly kingdom of Melchizedek in Genesis Chapter 14. This sacrifice is the Todah sacrifice of Israel, which is the only sacrifice to be offered in the post-messianic age and do all eternity according to ancient rabbinic teaching. The Todah sacrifice is the sacrifice of thanksgiving. The word “thanksgiving” in Greek is (pause) “Eucharist.” There you go, my Jewish kin, the Eucharist should now be no skin off your shnozz. I won’t comment on Barnhardt’s “Todah” reference but on what should be the “ten most beautiful words” for Jews. It is difficult to see how one can – confining oneself to the context of the passage in which “Let his blood be upon us and upon our children” appears – interpret this to mean a blessing [simcha], the greatest blessing! f[Barnhardt] for the Jews. Surely, the Jews who said those words (the words Barnhardt says internally at every Mass) couldn’t have meant that sending Jesus to cross was the answer to all their sacrifices and prayers. Roman Catholicism, because of its belief in extra-biblical revelation, brings more (or less) to the scripture – they will deny his – than what is found there. I suggest that concerning the “ten most beautiful words,” Barnhardt, in submission to Rome, has followed Pope Benedict XIV’s lead, which I discussed in the post I repost here.

OneDaring Jew

See also Psalm 25 – Judge me, O Lady, for I have departed from my innocence: What have they done to the mother of my Lord?

Pope Benedict writes in his latest book (2011) “Jesus of Nazareth II”:

When in Matthew’s account the “whole people” say: “his blood be on us and on our children” (27:25), the Christian will remember that Jesus’ blood speaks a different language from the blood of Abel (Heb. 12:24): it does not cry out for vengeance and punishment, it brings reconciliation. It is not poured out against anyone, it is poured out for many, for all. … Read in the light of faith, [Matthew’s reference to Jesus’ blood] means that we all stand in the need of the purifying power of love which is his blood. These words are not a curse, but rather redemption, salvation. Only when understood in terms of the theology of the…

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Understanding jihad: business is aboomin’

You won’t be able to check out this video at the following link because Youtube has classified it as “offensive.” It is indeed offensive, thanks to the Qur’an. You can watch it at the second link. David Wood shows up the Western ignorance, deceit and fear of Islam. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SoXs-0_rHY&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Watch here:

 

Humanism and the moral law: Law does not need God!

The latest “Unbelievable” programme is entitled “Does humanism need God? Angus Ritchie vs Stephen Law.”

Here is some information on the programme provided by the presenters:

“The term ‘Humanism’ is often seen as synonymous with atheism. But a recent Theos report titled: ‘The case for Christian Humanism: why Christians should be Humanists and Humanists should be Christians’ claims to show that atheism is ill-equipped to support the fundamental tenets of Humanism. Report author Angus Ritchie debates with atheist philosopher Stephen Law on whether atheistic humanism can account for the human dignity, morality and reason it espouses.”

Atheistic Humanists, in general, believe that morality has an objective existence, that is, morality is independent of the random processes of Darwinian evolution. When Ritchie told Law about an atheist who became a theist because he saw that without God there was no way to explain objective morality, Law said that although he could not explain objective morality, he did not think it necessary to posit God as the morality giver.

At the end of the show, the presenter, Justin Brierley, a Christian, said  “We had a lot of fun.” That remark, though, might merely have been Brierley being nice. Could he have been thinking of Romans 9? I know I was:

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is moulded say to its moulder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump done vessel for honourable use and another for dishonourable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory…

You have broken God’s Law, Stephen. You can only be reconciled to God – theism is not enough – by Christ; if he chooses to have mercy on you. “It’s not fair”  Shoosh.

Saint Bonaventure, the holiest heretic

For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
(1 Corinthians 11:19)

It is well known that one man’s meat is another man’s – forgive for using “man” and not the politically correct “person.” You must admit, though, “one person’s meat…” would sound silly – poison. En passant, it’s less well known that in France one man’s meat is another man’s poisson (fish). In religion we also know that one man’s heretic is another man’s (true) believer. This does not mean that heretics can’t teach a believer anything, or that a believer can teach a heretic everything. In a Reformation21 blog post, Mark Jones says we can indeed learn from heretics. In his “Quoting ‘Heretics’ Approvingly,” Jones asks:

“Who are Reformed Christians, theologians, and pastors allowed to read? Or, more specifically, who are we allowed to cite positively in our writings and conversations?”

Jones gives examples of heretics that Thomas Goodwin, English theologian and preacher, cites approvingly. One of these “heretics” is (Saint) Bonaventure, called the “Seraphic Doctor.” Although Goodwin, says Jones, accuses Bonaventure of having a defective view of original sin (who hasn’t?), he also calls Bonaventure “the holiest of them (the “Schoolmen” – the Medieval scholastics).

Here is what the “holiest of them” did to the Lord of the Psalms.

Psalm 30

Bonaventure – In thee, O Lady, have I hoped, let me never be confounded: receive me in thy grace. Thou art my strength and my refuge: my consolation and my protection. To thee, O Lady, have I cried, when my heart was in anguish: and thou hast heard me from the heights of the eternal hills. Thou shalt draw me out of the snares which they hid for me: for thou art my helper. Into thy hands, O Lady, I commend my spirit: my whole life and my last day.

Bible – 1. I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. 2. Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. 3. You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit. 4. Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. (See more of Bonaventure here).

Let me have a bash. Can I emulate the Seraphic Doctor?

Isaiah 6

6 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also thee, O Lady, sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.

2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.

3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Mother of the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of her glory.

4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.

5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the Queen, the Mother of the Lord of hosts.

Well blow me down, I’ve been pipped.

Artist: Bogomater
Bogomater (God’s mother): With thanks, BogRaphy

“God loves you. He loves you. He loves you.” Since when?

I learn much about both Islam and the Bible from Pastor Joseph’s Aramaic Broadcasting Network and his support staff David Wood and Sam Shamoun. It’s also great fun. There’s one thing, though, that gets my Reformed (Calvinist) goat: when he tells Muslim callers that Jesus loves them, which reminds me of a church on a hill near my home where a big red stone (not stony) heart with the words below it, also in red, “Jesus loves you” festoons the green slope of the lawn visible to passing traffic.

In one of his videos (Pastor Joseph schools a confused muslim, minute 18.15 ff), he says “God loves you, he loves you so much…It (God’s love) is in Islam a little bit. In Christianity it is so much emphasised. God loves you, he loves you so much that he gave his most precious thing; what is the most precious thing he could give? His son…In the Bible it says God is love…”

The problem here is two-fold:

First, the overemphasis on love, which pervades the majority of Christian movements, at the expense of God’s holiness, manifested in his “wrath” against sinners.

Second, God wants to save everybody without exception if only they will let God do what he, through his Son, died to do. This is the Arminian view of salvation, the majority Christian view. (See definition of Arminianism).

I focus on the second problem.

The allusion in Pastor Joseph’s “he gave his most precious thing” is among the most well-known verses in the Bible; John 3:16 (NIV) “16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Who(so)ever” (NIV) has the deceptive connotation of “whoever decides to believe in him.” The Greek says (Young’s Literal Translation – YLT) “every one who is believing in him may not perish.”

Contrast verse 16 (NIV) with verse 18 (NIV) Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” more correctly he who is believing in him is not judged, but he who is not believing hath been judged already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (YLT).

How to reconcile “God so loved the world” (verse 16) with “he who is not believing is judged already?” (YLT) This is where Arminianism splits and splutters. In Reformed theology (“Calvinist” if you like), it’s quite simple. “World” in verse 16 does not mean everyone in the world. There are several texts in the Bible that explain why it can’t mean everyone in the world. Verse 18 is one of them. I ask the Arminian: “Does Jesus love the unbelieving ones whom he is going to judge – send to hell, and whom he “knows from the beginning” (John 6:64) – from eternity?” Of course not; he hates them, as he hated all mankind before he chose to have mercy on some and save some as in Romans 9:

Romans 9

13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
 and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. 19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” 20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’”[h] 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?”

No “hated Esau” definitely does not mean “loved Esau less.” I hate a lot of noise, that is, I love it less than quiet!

Christ saves those whom the Father draws:

John 6

44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day…64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

I once asked the pastor of a Methodist Church I attended for two years why he never preached on sin, or mentioned the word. He replied “Those were the harsh old days.” People need buttering up. All you need is love.

Here are a few excerpts from Gerhardus Vos’s “The Scriptural Doctrine of the Love of God”.



1. “There can be little doubt that in this manner the one-sidedness and exclusiveness with which the love of God has been preached to the present generation is largely responsible for that universal weakening of the sense of sin, and the consequent decline of interest in the doctrines of atonement and justification, which even in 
orthodox and evangelical circles we all see and deplore. But this by no means reveals the full extent of the danger to which the tendency we are speaking of 
has exposed us….There is, however, still another  serious defect to be noticed in this modern exploitation of the love of God, touching not the distinction of love from the other attributes, but the internal distinction between the various kinds  and degrees of affection, which in the case of a relationship so infinitely varied as that of God to 
the world are subsumed under the comprehensive term of love. The old theology was exceedingly careful in marking off these kinds and degrees from one another, and in assigning to each the group  of objects upon which it operates.

2 Elective love

To Pharaoh God speaks of Israel as His firstborn, i.e.His dearly beloved son (Ex. 4:22). Immediately before the making of the Sinaitic covenant and the promulgation of the Decalogue,  all Jehovah’s gracious dealings with His people connected with the Exodus are summed up in the  beautiful words: “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagle’s wings, and brought you unto myself. Now, therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:4-6). In the four classical statements, where  the Torah rises to the height of a description of the character of God, His benevolent attributes, such as lovingkindness (Chesed), mercy, grace, longsuffering, faithfulness, are strongly emphasized (Ex. 20:5, 6; 34:6, 7; Num. 14:8; Deut. 7:9, 10)… in thus bringing forward the thought of Jehovah’s  love for Israel, Deuteronomy throws special emphasis upon the elective character of this love. It is not so much the general fact that Jehovah now loves the people, but rather the special consideration that in the past at a definite moment He set His love upon them, to the exclusion of all other nations, upon which the book dwells.

3. Who are the children of God?

The extreme form of the modern theory, according to which all men as such, indiscriminately, are the children of God, certainly cannot claim our Lord’s authority in its favor. But even the less extreme form of this theory, according to which God is absolutely and equally the  Father of all mankind, whilst men may become partially and relatively His children by spiritual transformation after His image, is not in harmony with the facts. Not merely the sonship, also the fatherhood is given an exclusive reference to the disciples. Jesus always speaks of your Father, their Father, never of the Father absolutely, except where the altogether unique trinitarian relation between Himself and God is meant.

4. Love and wrath of God

So far as the actual manifestation of the love of God in human consciousness is concerned, a fundamental difference lies in this, that the enjoyment of the common love of God outside of the kingdom does not exempt man from being subject at the same time to the divine wrath on account of sin. Love and wrath here are not mutually exclusive. Within the circle of redemption, on the other hand, the enjoyment of the paternal love of God  means absolute forgiveness and deliverance from all wrath. Even this, however, is not sufficient clearly to mark the distinction between these two kinds of love, the wider and the narrower. For, previously to the  moment of believing, those who are appointed for salvation, no less than the others, are subject in their consciousness to the experience of the wrath of God. It would seem, therefore, that in his pre-Christian state the one who will later become a child of God is not differentiated from the one who never will, 

inasmuch as both are in an equal sense the objects of the general benevolence of God and of His wrath in their experience. Thus a representation would result as if the line of God’s general love ran singly up to the point of conversion, there to pass over into the line of His special love. The general love of God [without exception] would then be the only factor to be reckoned with outside of the  sphere of the kingdom; and a special love of God could be spoken of only with reference to those who have actually become His children.

5. Meaning of “all”

In the well-known passage of Romans (5:12-21), where a parallel is drawn between the first and second Adam and the spread of sin and  righteousness in the world through the transgression of the one and the obedience of the other, Paul speaks of the operation not merely of the former principle, but also of the latter as extending to all. But if this were to be interpreted in a distributive sense, as applying to every man individually, then plainly not the loving desire of God to save all, but the actual salvation of all would be affirmed, for the apostle  expressly declares that by the righteousness of the one the free gift has come upon all men unto justification of life. We are thus forced to assume that the “all” covers the totality of those who belong to the new human race  which springs from the second Adam. To find in the word “many” alternating with “all” in the context a reminder of the particularism of grace would be surely unwarranted, for this “many” is also used where the consequences of Adam’s sin are spoken of; but it would be equally unwarranted to conclude, as others have done, from the use of “all” that Paul advocated a doctrine of absolute universalism. Another instructive example of the manner in which the apostle’s wide outlook upon the cosmical reach of the grace of God influences his mode of expression is found in Romans 11:32, where, speaking of Jews and  Gentiles in their mutual relation to the gospel, he declares: “God has concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.” On the same principle we must also interpret the statement in the first epistle to the Corinthians (15:22) that “as all die in Adam, so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

In the Pastoral Epistles, however, a more pronounced form of universalism seems to find expression. Here we read not only that Christ gave Himself a ransom for all (1 Tim. 2:6), but also that God quickens all things (or keeps alive all things (1 Tim 6:13), that God will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4), that the living God is the Savior of all men especially of those that believe (1 Tim. 4:10), that in Christ the kindness of God our Savior toward men appeared (Titus 3:4). In the case of these passages the context clearly indicates that a reference of God’s saving grace or Christ’s saving work to all classes of men rather than to all men numerically considered, is  meant to be affirmed. When the apostle first exhorts that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, then specializes this as including kings and all that are in authority, and finally assigns as the ground for this duty the fact that God will have all men to be saved, it is not only allowed but demanded by the principles of sound exegesis to interpret the second “all men” in the same sense as the first. This also applies to the passage in Titus 2:11, 12, where in succession the classes of old men, old women, young women, young men, and servants are named and the manner of life appropriate to each described, whereupon the apostle adduces as the most forcible and comprehensive motive for obedience to this exhortation the fact that the grace of God which brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lust, we should live soberly,  righteously, and godly in this present world.”

I return to the Muslims that Pastor Joseph longs convert by contrasting the scarcity of love in Allah with the overabundance of love in Yahweh. Here’s Vos at the end of his book”

It (the Bible) clearly teaches that the love of God, which it makes the center of His revealed character, belongs in its highest sense to believers only: “Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not” (3:1). If God were nothing but love, to the exclusion of all other modes of being, no difference would be possible between His attitude toward the world and His attitude toward His own…That there is something which on sound biblico-theological grounds may be so designated, our inquiry has shown. But even more clearly than this it has, we believe, brought out two other facts. In the first place, that that form of love which the Bible everywhere emphasizes and magnifies, so as to be truly called one great revelation of love, is not God’s general benevolence, but His special affection for His people. This distribution of emphasis ought to be preserved in every creedal statement which professes  to reflect biblical proportions of truth. And in the second place, we have had occasion to observe that the  Scriptures do not leave room for the opinion that at any point, either in the eternal decree or in its historical unfolding, God’s love for those intended to become His people has been undifferentiated from His love for wider groups of humanity. Every formula which would efface or even tend to obscure this fundamental distinction ought to be at the outset rejected as unbiblical. The divine love for the elect is different not only in degree but specifically from all the other forms of love, because it involves a purpose to save, of which all the other forms fall short.”

“God is not a man.” Finish it. “What do you mean?”

 

S. Lewis Johnson, in his lecture XII Bunyan conference (God’s love towards Israel), gives the following advice:

“In reading the Bible pay attention to the connectives, if you want to study the Bible and become expert in the knowledge of the Scriptures one of the things you have to pay attention to is the “for’s” the “therefore’s” the “because’s” on this account various other connectives that connect the sentences of the word of God together that give you the kind of clues that enable you to put one statement with another in proper understanding.”

Recently I heard once again in a discussion on Islam the bit from Numbers 23:19, a favourite of Unitarians (Jews, Moslems and Jehovah’s Witnesses), “God is not a man…” This bit is part of the complete verse, which they either ignore or are ignorant of:

God is not a man, that he should lie,
or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

The conjunction (connecting word) that connects 1. “God is not man,” to 2. “he should lie” in such away that all God is saying is that whereas man is (by nature) a liar, God is not. (The same grammatical point applies to “or a son of man…”). Numbers 23;19 has nothing to do with the nature of God’s being, namely, whether he has a divine or a human nature, or both. Therefore, it’s illegitimate to chop the verse into two chunks and present them as two separate arguments. It’s a bit like slicing up Raphael the Ninja Turtle  and ending up with Picasso. Later, of course, the New Testament does describe Jesus as fully God and fully man. But this is a different context.

In the endeavour to prove that Jesus cannot be God, unitarians milk the teats off the text.

Related

Raphael and Picasso pay attention; God is not a man that he should lie..

Milking the teats off the text: the Rabbinical interpretation of Numbers 23:19.

Jihad; and sex in the now and beyond for devout Muslims in the know

Most Muslims are either ignorant or disobey – as with most adherents of religions in general – their scriptures. The following only applies to the devout and in-the-know Muslim.

Sex Jihad by Raymond Ibrahim on June 23, 2013 in From The Arab World, Islam

Investigative Project on Terrorism

Excerpts

1. News emerged a few weeks ago in Arabic media that yet another fatwa had called on practicing Muslim women to travel to Syria and offer their sexual services to the jihadis fighting to overthrow the secularist Assad government and install Islamic law. Reports attribute the fatwa to Saudi sheikh Muhammad al-’Arifi, who, along with other Muslim clerics earlier permitted jihadis to rape Syrian women.

2. Indeed, Islam’s prophet Muhammad maintained that death during jihad not only blots out all sins—including sexual ones—but it actually gratifies them:

The martyr is special to Allah. He is forgiven [of all sins] from the first drop of blood [that he sheds]. He sees his throne in paradise, where he will be adorned in ornaments of faith. He will wed the ‘Aynhour [a.k.a. “voluptuous women”] and will not know the torments of the grave, and safeguards against the greater terror [hell]. … And he will copulate with 72 ‘Aynhour (see The Al Qaeda Reader, p. 143).

This goes to one of the many seeming contradictions in Islam: Muslim women must chastely be covered head-to-toe—yet, in the service of jihad, they are allowed to prostitute themselves. Lying is forbidden—but permissible to empower Islam. Intentionally killing women and children is forbidden—but permissible during the jihad. Suicide is forbidden—but permissible during the jihad—when it is called “martyrdom.”

Islamophobia: Why Cair?

In this video, Jonathan Matusitz, an associate professor at the University of Central Florida, tells Islam as it is. He can back up all he says from the accepted Islamic literature. Here is some froth spewed out by the pro-Sharia lobby in the US, who hate the video:

CAIR – Council of American-Islam Relations.

“CAIR-FL Seeks Review of UCF Courses Taught by Anti-Islam Prof. Professor at publicly-funded institution works with anti-Muslim hate group, says Germany will be ‘Islamic republic’ by 2050.

(TAMPA, FL, 6/17/13) – The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-FL), along with other community organizations, announced today that it has called on the University of Central Florida (UCF) to review the accuracy and objectivity of information offered to students in courses taught by Dr. Jonathon Matusitz.

CAIR-FL says Matusitz, an associate professor in the UCF Nicholson School of Communication, is “membership director” for the anti-Muslim hate group ACT! for America and bizarrely claims Germany will “become an Islamic republic by 2050.”

Now, consider the recent horror “honor” killings in Paris. If you are faithful to the Qu’ran, and not merely a “cultural” Muslim. you will (unlike the devout Jew or Christian) do what those brothers did in Paris – kill those who attack your religion. (Most Christians and Jews are also cultural adherents of their faiths, and consequently ignorant, not giving a toss about the meat of “their” scriptures).

There is a deep meaning and a superficial meaning of “culture.”

Deep meaning – Culture is a conceptual framework: a way of representing one’s world through thinking. Each culture is a system of meanings shared by its members. What one represents in one’s mind becomes embodied in a mode of communication that expresses and addresses the self and the world, involving both verbal and nonverbal behaviour. For the devout Muslim, the main cultural influence is the Qur’an and the Hadiths.

Superficial meaning – “Cultural Muslims, for example, are religiously unobservant, secular or irreligious individuals who still identify with the Muslim culture due to family background, personal experiences, or the social and cultural environment in which they grew up.” (Wikipedia http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_Muslim).

(See my Culture and Conceptual Frameworks).

You might say to me,”Hate speech.” I shall certainly say to you, “You’re either an ignorant klutz, want to be left alone, or are scared of Muslims – or a deceiver.

Relate: Vengeance and the cartoons about Mohammed.

 

The Barque of Peter: The least leaky boat?

pope in the boat newWilliam Ockham (No, not the one “of” Ockham), says:

I still have problems with the institutional Church but I believe that Christianity, and especially the Catholic Church with its deep history, traditions and emphasis on reason, offers the best description of the ultimate reality (or as William O’Malley, S.J. describes it, the “least leaky boat”).”

What keeps this “least leaky boat” afloat, and why wouldn’t it be a bad thing to sink it? Let me pull some corks, and then I’ll cork up.

In the Introduction to his “Why Be Catholic?” William J. O’Malley, S.J. writes:

If you have serious problems accepting the Roman Catholic Church, I would suggest—for your own sake—that you sit down and list them on a piece of paper, rather than letting them ramble around your mind, unfocused, vague and embittering. Really dredge them up. Then go back and cross out all those that are truly trivial: “A priest once bawled me out”; “I know some hypocritical churchgoers”; “How was Our Lady bodily lifted outside time and space where bodies don’t exist?” One consistent objection is, “All those rules!” but when pressed, the objector usually is hard put to specify what those rules are. Other than the ones that seem to overemphasize sexuality, what other specific rules do you find insupportable? Finally, go through the cut-down list and ask how many of the remaining objections result from idealistic expectations no humanly embodied institution could satisfy.”

Actually, my protestations result from a comparison between scripture and what I and many Protesants believe is the magnificent humanly embodied instituiton called “Unam Sanctam Catholicam et Apostolicam Ecclesaim.” Here are some of the main Roman Catholic doctrines that stick in the Protestant throat.

PURGATGORY-INDULGENCES

Plenary indulgences; for example, occasions as the Bi-millenium of St Paul and the World Meeting of Families and Sydney World Youth day.

If you were lucky enough to have attended this Youth day in Sydney officiated by Pope Benedict and died during or immediately after the meeting (having had no time to sin in thought or deed), you would have been granted a plenary indulgence and so have circumvented purgatory – one million years. Two million years – and winging your way straight to heaven.

THE MOTHER OF OUR LORD

Luke 1:46-47 “And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.” What does the Saviour save a person from? Sin, of course.

In The Little Office of the Virgin Mary, “Mary occupies a place in the Church which is highest after Christ and yet very close to us, for you chose her to give the world that very Life which renews all things, Jesus Christ your Son and our Lord. And so we praise you, Mary, virgin and mother. After the Savior himself, you alone are all holy, free from the stain of sin, gifted by God from the first instant of your conception with a unique holiness.”

The “Seraphic doctor” of the Roman Catholic Church, Saint Bonaventure goes further. In his “Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary” he substitutes Mary for the Creator and Lord of the universe, making in effect Mary the fourth person of the Godhead.

 Psalm 1:1

Bonaventure’s psalter – Blessed is the man, O Virgin Mary, who loves thy name; thy grace will comfort his soul.

Bible – Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners,

Psalm 3:1a

Bonaventure (Mary replaces the Lord)  – O Lady, why are they multiplied who afflict me?

Bible – O Lord, how many are my foes!

Psalm 4:1a

Bonaventure (Mary usurps God’s throne) – When I called upon thee, thou didst hear me, O Lady: and from thy throne on high thou hast deigned to be mindful of me.

Bible – Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!   You have given me relief when I was in distress.

(See What have they done to the mother of my Lord).

The MASS – A RECURRING PROPITIARY SACRIFICE

23 It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

 The Catholic Forum mentions the following as an ”anti-Catholic whopper.”

 ”Catholics re-sacrifice Christ at every Mass because [they say] we don’t understand that His death on the cross was the FINAL sacrifice.”

In his teaching of the sacrifice of the Mass, Pope John Paul II writes: . . . the Church is the instrument of man’s salvation. It both contains and continually (my italics) draws upon the mystery of Christ’s redemptive sacrifice. Through the shedding of His own blood, Jesus Christ constantly (my italics) “enters into God’s sanctuary thus obtaining eternal redemption” (cf. Heb 9:12). (Pope John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope (New York: Knopf, 1995, p. 139). The underlined section is the Pope’s rendition of Hebrews 9:12.). The Pope’s “constantly enters” resonates with the Council of Trent’s declaration that the Mass is not merely a “re-enactment”, but a real propitiatory sacrifice, which is repeated at every consecration of the wafer and the wine. “And for as much as, in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the mass, that same Christ is contained and immolated in an unbloody manner who once offered himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross . . . For the victim is one and the same, the same now offering by the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross, the manner alone of offering being different. . . If any one saith, that the sacrifice of the mass is only a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; or, that it is a bare commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross, but not a propitiatory sacrifice. . . and that it ought not to be offered for the living and the dead for sins, pains, satisfactions, and other necessities: let him be anathema.”

(See The Catholic Mass, the final sacrifice: A whopping questions).

BAPTISMAL REGENERATION

The Catholic Church teaches: “Through baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1213). Many baptised babies (reborn as children of God, bornof the Spirit) never come to have faith in Christ, yet, according to “baptismal regeneration” they once were children of God.

The Bible says the Christian was chosen before the foundation of the world to become a child of God:

Ephesians 1

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he[b] predestined us for adoption to sonship[c] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. … 11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.

Through God’s handiwork, the sinner is made alive by grace though faith. The sinner is created in Christ (born again) to do good works that God prepared in advance:

Ephesians 2

1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

John 6

44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

if you are given, you will come (believe). And if you believe, then it inexorably you will be raised up – to eternal life, of course.

John 10

28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.

Believe, or disbelieve, anything as long as you remain faithful to your belief/disbelief. And be good and kind. Then you will be saved.

John 3

18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

Here is Pope Benedcit XV:

For the whole of mankind was freed from the slavery of sin by the shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ as their ransom, and there is no one who is excluded from the benefit of this Redemption …” Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum, #1, 1914.

Surely, you can only begin to know what true freedom is once you’ve entered into the life of Christ. So, how can mankind be set free if they ignore Christ: “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31-32).

Therefore, according to Benedict XV: if you’re a good Buddhist, Jew, Hindu, atheist (?) you receive – in Catholic terms – the ultimate gift of redemption, namely, salvation. It’s also ok to be a Jewish Hindu or a Catholic Buddhist.

Enough already!

Origin of the human body and soul – the heart of the matter: Unam Sanctam Catholicam

The Unam Sanctam Catholicam blog focuses on Teilhard de Chardin. The article “Pius XII, Teilhard and Ratzinger” discusses these writers views on the origin of matter and the human soul/spirit. There are many erudite comments – some lengthy – but none of them, including the article, quote any scripture, which shows the little weight they grant to what should be the ultimate authority on the origin of the human body and the soul. If Christians differ on the Genesis account of the special creation of man (body and soul), there is no way to avoid the unequivocal Romans 5.

(I’ve tried every which way to post this comment on “Unam Sanctam Catholicam,” but no matter how much I try, it persists in telling me I am a robot. How did it know I was One Holy Calvinist!).

6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Death in Adam, Life in Christ

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.

Here is a relevant paragraph from “Unam Sanctam Catholicam,” which I find to be the clincher among much clanger – of the involved (evolved?) comments.

“According to the doctrine of Original Sin, man originally existed in a state of perfect justice and preternatural glory. Humani Generis reminds us that we must believe in the existence of two literal first parents who were created in grace but fell into sin. Thus, our first parents would have been brought forth in a state of natural perfection with their minds enlightened by grace and an infused knowledge of God; not simply of His existence, but of His perfections and of the fact that man is created to be in relation with Him. In short, our first parents had a very clear and unmistakable notion of God (otherwise how could have been guilty of sinning against Him?) – created fresh from His hands, enlightened in their intellect by grace and unmarred from sin, their understanding of Him in their perfected natural state was greater and clearer than most of us will ever experience. Can this vision of God which our first parents enjoyed prior to Original Sin be reconciled with Ratzinger’s comments that the first conception of God emerged in the human species “dimly” and “stammeringly”? It seems to me that the first conception mankind ever had of God was a glorious vision, full of clarity and infused knowledge, that is unrivaled except by some of the holiest saints.”

Thank you for homing in on the heart of – the matter (oops).

Refrain:
Most Roman Catholics would not go so far as to say – as does the Jesuit evolutionist, Teilhard de Chardin – that matter, the clay of creation, is divine, is spirit in progress:

“Blessed be you, universal matter, immeasurable time, boundless ether, triple abyss of stars and atoms and generations: you who by overflowing and dissolving our narrow standards or measurement reveal to us the dimensions of God… I acclaim you as the divine milieu, charged with creative power, as the ocean stirred by the Spirit, as the clay molded and infused with life by the incarnate Word.”

(Teilhard de Chardin, “Hymn of the Universe,” Chapter 3 ”The spiritual power of matter.” See
https://onedaringjew.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/should-christians-dance-wherever-they-may-be-in-church-at-all/).

In the name of Hashem (God), does “Samuel” mean “God heard?” No.

A popular belief among “people of the Book” (as the Quran describes Jews and Christians) is that the name Samuel means “God heard.” Thinkbabynames.com explains the meaning of Samuel: “Samuel is of Hebrew origin, and the meaning of Samuel is “God heard”. Also possibly as “requested of God”, “God’s heart” or “God’s name.”

They derive the meaning of “God heard” from Samuel 3:9 Therefore Eli said unto Samuel: ‘Go, lie down; and it shall be, if thou be called, that thou shalt say: Speak, LORD; for Thy servant heareth.’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place. (“Thy servant heareth” also appears in 3:10)

שֹׁמֵעַ עַבְדֶּךָ “your servant heareth”. Hebrew word order – “hears your servant”

[SHOMEIA שֹׁמֵעַ – HEARS] [AVDEKHA עַבְדֶּךָ – YOUR SERVANT].

But who heard whom? God didn’t hear Samuel. It was the other way round; Samuel heard God. What is more, Samuel was given his name at birth by his mother Hannah. So, did Samuel get his name at birth in anticipation of God hearing him about three-four years later in the house of Eli, more accurately, Samuel hearing God?

Actually, the Bible is very clear about how Samuel got his name:

Samuel 1: 20 And it came to pass, when the time was come about, that Hannah conceived, and bore a son; and she called his name Samuel: ‘because I have asked him of the LORD.’

Name – Hebrew SHEM

Samuel means “Name of (SHMU) God [EL)” – Samuel SHMU-EL.

So, Samuel means “Name of God.” When Jews talk about God, they often use the term HaShem “the Name.” Here is a remarkable thing, of which there are many – my remarks excluded. Recall SHOMEIA שֹׁמֵעַ HEARS in Samuel 3:9. The letters are similar to SHEM (Name). And that is how Samuel came to mean “God hears” (in passing, it was Samuel who heard, God who spoke ).

How “Thinkbabynames” got hold of “God’s heart” beats me. “Heart” in Hebrew is LEV. I LEaVe it there.

Judge to Calvinist murderer: “We don’t hang robots”

Wesleyan (Arminian) criminal before judge – A musing grace

Judge – You deserve death but it is the decision of this court to grant you amnesty. Are you willing to accept the decision?

Criminal – Your Grace, let me muse over it. Say, an hour?

Judge – This court is in recess for one hour.

Calvinist criminal before same judge.

Judge – You deserve death but it is the decision of this court to grant you amnesty.

Calvinist – Amazing, your grace. Thank you, thank you.

Judge – We don’t hang robots.

Background : Wesley and Pelagius: Kissing cousins

Christmas Mass: Bowing before the baby Jesus

This morning I saw on the TV the pope bowing before a statue of the baby Jesus. Here is J. I. Packer:

wpid-photo.jpg

(1973) J.I. Packer, Knowing God, Chapter 4
What does the word idolatry suggest to your mind? Savages groveling before a totem pole? Cruel–faced statues in Hindu temples? The dervish dance of the priests of Baal around Elijah’s altar? These things are certainly idolatrous, in a very obvious way; but we need to realize that there are more subtle forms of idolatry as well.

Look at the second commandment. It runs as follows, “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God” ( Ex 20:4–5 ). What is this commandment talking about?

If it stood alone, it would be natural to suppose that it refers to the worship of images of gods other than Jehovah* the Babylonian idol worship, for instance, which Isaiah derided ( Is 44:9–20 ; 46:6–7 ), or the paganism of the Greco–Roman world of Paul’s day, of which he wrote in Romans 1:23 , 25 that they “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. . . . They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.” But in its context the second commandment can hardly be referring to this sort of idolatry, for if it were it would simply be repeating the thought of the first commandment without adding anything to it.

Accordingly, we take the second commandment* as in fact it has always been taken *as pointing us to the principle that (to quote Charles Hodge) “idolatry consists not only in the worship of false gods, but also in the worship of the true God by images.” In its Christian application, this means that we are not to make use of visual or pictorial representations of the triune God, or of any person of the Trinity, for the purposes of Christian worship. The commandment thus deals not with the object of our worship, but with the manner of it; what it tells us is that statues and pictures of the One whom we worship are not to be used as an aid to worshiping him.

The whole of Chapter 4 can be found here.

http://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/j-i-packer-on-idolatry-and-images-of-christ/

Wesley and Pelagius: Kissing cousins?

Here is a post on “Wesley and Pelagius” by Lee Gatiss

For century after century, one man has been the bogeyman of Western theology. He’s the bad guy. The one no. For centuries the malign influence of his worksy free will religion has been resisted. Bede narrates in his history of the English church how persistently both Celtic and Catholic Christians opposed in these fair Isles the poison of Pelagianism, which the great Augustine of Hippo had refuted so clearly, and which was condemned by an early church council at Carthage (418) and excommunicated.

In the East, they are not such fans of Augustine. But in the West, he the man, and so his enemy is our enemy, so to speak. Identification with Pelagius has been “a bad thing” throughout our history.

Which makes it so strange that the great and famous John Wesley was actually a fan of Pelagius. Am I being nasty now? Am I being offensive: “a cynic, a bear, a Toplady” (to use Wesley’s own sour put down)? Not at all.

See more here.

Here is Thomas McCall’s riposte to Gatiss:

Pelagianism’ calmly considered: A Response to Lee Gatiss.”

I have always found Lee Gatiss to be a fine historian, so I was disappointed to see his claims in the recent “Wesley and Pelagius”. He points out that Pelagius has been universally reviled and rejected in orthodox (Western) Christian theology, and then he also points out that John Wesley was openly sympathetic to the heretic. Indeed, he says that he “was actually a fan of Pelagius.” But Gatiss goes much further. For Gatiss concludes that Pelagius “taught – well, what do you know! – the same things as John Wesley himself, regarding free will and perfectionism.” This latter claim – that Wesley and Pelagius taught the “same things” about “free will and perfectionism” – is problematic indeed; it is deeply mistaken and very misleading.

Here is another part of Thomas McCall’s riposte to Gatiss:

Wesley on Original Sin

But while Gatiss’s discussion of Wesley’s sympathy might be misleading, there are bigger problems with Gatiss’s essay. For he is simply mistaken when he says that Wesley and Pelagius “taught the same things.” They didn’t. Consider what Wesley says about the doctrine of original sin. The Methodist Articles of Religion clearly affirm the doctrine, with Article II affirming that Christ’s sacrifice atones for “original guilt” as well as actual sins. But Wesley himself goes further. His treatise on original sin is the longest and densest work in his theological corpus; it is written soon before the more famous work of Jonathan Edwards, it engages in sharp polemics against many of the same debate partners (especially John Taylor), and it employs many similar arguments… For instance, he asks

“Is man by nature filled with all manner of evil? Is he void of all good? Is he wholly fallen? Is his soul totally corrupted? Is… ‘every imagination of the thoughts of his heart evil continually?’ Allow this, and you are so far a Christian. Deny it, and you are but a heathen still (“Original Sin,” p. 456).

Wesley is convinced that any denial of the doctrine of original sin “saps the very foundation of all revealed religion” (“Original Sin,” p. 194). Thus such a denial “contradicts the main design of the Gospel, which is to humble vain man, and to ascribe to God’s free grace, not man’s free will, the whole of his salvation” (“Original Sin,” p. 429). Subsequent Methodist theologians… insist that we are “totally depraved.” I cannot see how anyone might view this evidence – which flows from Wesley’s most sustained theological treatment of any issue through his sermons into the major confessional documents and indeed through the major nineteenth-century Methodist theologians – and conclude that Wesley and Pelagius taught “the same things.”

III. Wesley on “Free Will” and the prevenience of grace

As we have seen, Wesley is absolutely certain that we must “ascribe to God’s free grace, not man’s free will, the whole of his salvation.” His doctrine of human sinfulness is not, he insists, even a “hairs-breadth” different than that of John Calvin. If that amounts to Pelagianism, then one might be excused for thinking that this is pretty good company in which to be Pelagian.

End of McCall.

Here is a counter thrust by Gatiss. http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2014/12/more-work-for-the-wesleyans.php. Here is an excerpt regarding “original sin.”

“Wesley’s sermon on Philippians 2:12: “allowing that all the souls of men are dead in sin by nature, this excuses none, seeing there is no man that is in a state of mere nature”. I’m struggling to relate this to his supposed belief in original sin. Doesn’t he think all that Old Testament stuff about everyone being born in sin has been cancelled out now that Christ has enlightened every man (see e.g. his sermon on Philippians 3:12)?”

And here is an excerpt from John Whitefield’s letter to Wesley, in response to the latter’s sermon on “free grace.”

Free grace or free-will

Dear Sir, for Jesus Christ’s sake, consider how you dishonour God by denying election. You plainly make salvation depend not on God’s free grace, but on man’s free-will; and if thus, it is more than probable, Jesus Christ would not have had the satisfaction of seeing the fruit of His death in the eternal salvation of one soul. Our preaching would then be vain, and all invitations for people to believe in Him would also be in vain. But, blessed be God, our Lord knew for whom He died. There was an eternal compact between the Father and the Son. A certain number was then given Him, as the purchase and reward of His obedience and death. For these He prayed (Joh 17), and not for the world. For these, and these only, He is now interceding, and with their salvation He will be fully satisfied.

Wesley says that salvation is all of grace, and nothing to do with free will. That’s odd. Here is the famous Ephesians 2:8 – “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”

The Wesleyan/Arminian says (the gift of) Salvation and Grace are both all of the Lord, but when it comes to the gift of faith you, in your totally depraved nature and hatred of God, have to exercise your free will to accept it – otherwise, they say, you’re a robot.

Wesleyan (Arminian) criminal before judge – A musing grace

Judge – You deserve death but it is the decision of this court to grant you amnesty. Are you willing to accept the decision?

Criminal – Your Grace, let me muse over it. Say, an hour?

Judge – This court is in recess for one hour.

Calvinist criminal before same judge.

Judge – You deserve death but it is the decision of this court to grant you amnesty.

Calvinist – Amazing, your grace. Thank you, thank you.

Judge – We don’t hang robots.

The Torah: David Wood, my favourite Islam fundi, can teach a Jew a thing or two

David Wood interviewed an ex-Muslim turned atheist, Heina Dadhaboy. 

One caller was a Jew (24 minutes from end of video), who said that David was incorrect in limiting the term “Torah” to the Pentateuch (Five books of Moses), because, he said, the Torah refers to all the books of the Hebrew Bible. Strictly speaking, the Jewish caller is wrong.

“To the fundamentalist Christian – says Rabbi Simchah Roth – the whole  Bible (and specifically what he terms the ‘Old Testament’) is the directly revealed word of God; while ancient Jewish tradition has ascribed that quality to the Torah, which is not true of the prophets and writings.”

Barry Freundel expresses a similar opinion. In his “Contemporary Orthodox Judaism’s response to modernity, p. 11, he says” “While the prophets and the Writings also contain revelations from God, these do not achieve the level of the Mosaic revelation, and, as we have said are not sources of law. Rather they tell us a history, exhort to follow God’s commands, and offer understanding of the human condition.”

So the above Jewish hashkafah (perspective) of the Jewish Bible says that only the Torah is all from God, and the rest of the Jewish scriptures is a melange of man and God. The meaning of “Torah” can be confusing. The Jewish virtual library explains:

“The Written Law consists of the books of the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh. The term “Bible” is more commonly used by non-Jews, as are the terms “Old Testament” and “New Testament.” The appropriate term for Jews to use for the Hebrew Bible is “Tanakh.” Tanakh is an acronym for Torah, Nevi’im (Prophets) and Ketuvim (Writings).”

“The Torah is also known as the Chumash, Pentateuch or Five Books of Moses. The word “Torah” has the following meanings:

1. A scroll made from kosher animal parchment, with the entire text of the Five Books of Moses written in it by a sofer [ritual scribe]. This is the most limited definition.

2. More often, this term means the text of the Five Books of Moses, written in any format, whether Torah scroll, paperback book, CD­ROM, skywriting or any other media. Any printed version of the Torah (with or without commentary) can be called a Chumash or Pentateuch; however, one never refers to a Torah Scroll as a Chumash.”

Jewish denominations differ on which parts are more of man and less of God. Christian denominations also differ on which parts are from God, which from man.

Related:

The written and oral Torah: Which is primary?

The Arminian and Calvinist understanding of “Salvation is (totally) of the Lord.”

“Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish’s belly… Salvation is of the LORD.” —Jonah 2:9

jonah_on_dry_ground

The Word of Faith movement (Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer) teaches that if God is going to do anything good in your life – better health, more cash, increase your divine power, save you (from your mistakes) – you have to grant him the opportunity to do so. If you do nothing, guess what God’s gonna do? Or rather, not do? Keep your cold, your bad back, your Ebola; no better house-car-job. Dry bones.

When it comes to salvation, Word of Faith people are Arminians, as are the majority of Christians. Unless Christians are into apologetics or theology, terms like Arminianism and Calvinism make them giddy. When Calvinism is contrasted with Arminianism, what first comes to mind is God’s role and man’s role in coming to faith. The Calvinist says that man plays no cooperative or contributive role in coming to faith, while the Arminian says that man cooperates with God in that man turns his heart to God, that is, exercises his will to come to faith. In Calvinism, God first regenerates the sinner and then gives the sinner the gift of faith, which he finds irresistible (Lazarus didn’t complain when he was raised from the dead). in Arminianism, regeneration follows the sinner’s acceptance of God’s offer of salvation.

Our understanding of how we come to faith shimmers through our whole understanding of the sovereignty, holiness and love of God, and consequently impacts greatly on our Christian life. I deal briefly with the following aspects of the Christian life:

God’s will and purposes

Prayer

Witnessing

Assurance

God’s will and purposes

Isaiah 46:9-10

9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.

 If you believe that, you, an unregenerate person, can/has come to Christ (ultimately) on your own steam (you get to make the final decision), you could find yourself in hot heavenly water, for you are the person that must also say that Christ is begging people to come to him but in most cases fails. But how can God fail when it is clear that “I will do all my pleasure.”

Two more scriptures: “The Lord does whatever pleases him,
 in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths” (Psalm 135:6). “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). Job knows that, but do Arminians know that? If God tries to save but fails, then it must please him fail. Do you really believe that God gets a kick out of failure? That’s what you must think but  will not to.

Prayer

Arminian on his Calvinist knees praying for someone’s conversion: “Lord please change his heart, open his eyes that he may see.”

Witnessing

Arminian on his feet with the same person he prayed for: “God respects your will. The Holy Spirit is a gentleman. He won’t force you to believe. The greatest gift you have is your freedom to chose salvation. You need to change your heart.”

I am reminded of the Arminian song “Change my heart oh God, make it ever true.” What do they mean? If they mean “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh,” then this is impossible for the Christian, because when you became a Christian (born again), God changed your natural heart (of stone) – dead heart, for a spiritual heart (of flesh) – living heart. What the Arminian means is “make my new heart more devoted to you (ever true), increase my faith.” All Christians should pray for this kind of renewal. If, however, Arminians were biblical, they would not water down – “make my heart ever true” – the pivotal biblical description of God – unilaterally – changing hearts, as in Ezekiel 36:26) above, to mean “make my heart ever true.”

Assurance

Arminian: “I’ve decided to follow Jesus, I’ve decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.”

Calvinist: Why are you so sure you won’t turn your back on Jesus?

Arminian: Jesus said that he won’t cast me out.

Calvinist: What if, after you decided to follow Jesus, you decided to unfollow him? Didn’t you decide on your own bat to follow Jesus? If so, then surely if you’re free, you can decide not to follow him anymore.

Arminian: I won’t allow that to happen. I will never forsake Christ.

Calvinist: I have a good title for a song you could write: “Greater is the me in me, than the me who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

Consider the concept of the “gift” of faith. Ephesians 2:5-9 [My square brackets and capitals]:

Even when we were dead in sins, [he] hath quickened [regenerated] us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

By “dead” in sins, the Arminian means “deadish,” that is, there remains in every sinner enough ability and desire to receive the gift of faith. But this (grace and) faith – “THAT not of yourselves,” means that you had nothing to do with the planting of faith in you. There is nothing in Ephesian 2:8 about faith being a possible faith. If that were so, then faith would not be God’s gift to you but your gift to God. And that is exactly how Arminians interpret Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” They say – for example, William Lane Craig – that “that [gift] is not of yourselves” in the above verse refers only to grace, not to faith. because “that” is grammatically neuter while “faith” is feminine. Craig’s argument falls flat because grace is also feminine. The Greek grammar rule is this: “In the case of concrete nouns, for example, the mother, the ship, the way, the house, the relative pronoun that follows is ordinarily feminine; but what the president did not know is that abstract nouns like faith, hope, and charity use the neuter of the relative pronoun. As a matter of fact, even a feminine thing, a concrete noun, may take a neuter relative (see Godwin’s Greek Grammar). (Gordon Clark in Is Faith the Gift of God in Ephesians 2:8? By Jack Kettler).

All Calvinists hold that both grace and faith are gifts from God whereas the Arminian says grace (“prevenient” grace) is God’s gift to man, and faith is man’s gift to God. (See The Calvinist robot and the Arminian zombie: Grammars of coming to faith).

Jesus is a saviour, not a possible saviour. “Possible” means possible failure, a miserable failure. “Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able … There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out” (Luke 13:23-24 and 28). “”Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it” (Matthew 7:13).

Jesus died for his sheep; they hear his voice. Those who reject Jesus are not – will never be – of his sheep:

John 10:

22 At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

The causal connection in 10:27 is not “hear his voice and then become his sheep” but “if you are a sheep you will – certainly – hear his voice.” This becomes crystal clear (one would think!) in John 6:35-44, specifically verses 40 and 44.

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” 41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

Arminians confuse or refuse the grammar.

Here is something that I read, which could be said by both an Arminian and a Calvinist.

“Well, if you say Arminianism or Calvinism my mind starts to spin. But I do know what I believe. I believe we are dead in our sins apart from Christ. I believe that is only by grace that are saved, not anything that we do although there is a response required on our part however that works exactly, I couldn’t really tell you. Somethings are mystery. It’s totally, completely all God Who chooses us and saves us, yet he allows us to respond with faith.”

Yes, salvation is “totally all of God.” But “what about free will?” is the predictable cry. What do we make of “salvation is TOTALLY/ALL all of God” in the above paragraph? If salvation is all of the Lord, then instead of saying “yet” he allows us to respond, which implies a (“mysterious”) contradiction, we should rather, and indeed can logically and joyfully say “and” he allows us to respond. How is this so? As scripture says, all unbelievers are dead in sin, and so hate (the true) God. Another way of speaking is that our wills are in bondage to sin. We are slaves, in chains.

There are two ways in which Christians explain salvation:

1. The Arminian view (the label comes from Jacob Arminius).

God comes to all the slaves in the world, who love more than anything their slavery to sin – indeed reject the very idea of sin. Now God through his powerful mercy (grace) makes it possible for all to see that they are sinners and in bondage, and need to be saved from their sin. He then offers to set them free. YET (the Arminian is speaking) most refuse. Those that accept he sets free.

The salvation process on this view is: we are deadISH in sin, aliveISH to God. God, through his grace, gives us the possibility to become much more alive than we were, to make us a newISH creature (I would then be Jewish newish). He offers (the “gift” of) faith. Some take the gift. They believe. Next, God regenerates them (they are born again). This is back to front because if you believe, this can only occur if God had previously regenerated you, and granted you the desire to believe and repent. According to the Arminian view, the reason why you were saved is because there is something better – they will deny this vehemently – in you than in the person that is damned. Jesus the possible saviour becomes – because of you opening your dead heart – a real saviour.

2. The Biblical view (Calvinist, after John Calvin)

The salvation process on this view is: we are not deadish but dead, dead, in sin. God, through his grace makes some alive, that is, completely alive, transforming them into new creatures. He raises us (regenerates us – born again) from the dead and plants in our renewed souls the gift of faith, which we receive/accept with joy. We repent of our sin. The reason why you were saved is not because there was something in you that decided to “give God a chance” but because after he regenerated you from death to life, he freed you from the bondage to your sin. As a result, you were overcome with gratitude and joyfully received the new life he gave you.

Upshot: it is impossible to accept God – believe and repent – BEFORE God has raised you from the dead, before he has broken your chains. So then, God first births you anew (regenerates you) AND – consequently – you are drawn irresistibly to him. The dead cannot refuse or hate to be resurrected (Lazarus didn’t complain). Result: they are made free, which they accept with great joy. In a nutshell, “Salvation is of the Lord” where words such as “totally” and “all” (of the Lord) add nothing to the meaning but serve as emphasis, as in “I don’t REALLY want to be rude.”

But, but that is not fair! What’s unfair about a judge deciding to not be merciful to a criminal who deserves punishment? How we come to faith and God’s purposes in salvation is encapsulated in Romans 9.

10… when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls—12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion,2 but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

Here is Jonah Calvin’s prayer in the belly of the whale:

“Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish’s belly, And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God. When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD. And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.” —Jonah 2:1-10.

Beware of the vanities of Arminianism.

Related – Free willy: Amazing grace and the grammar of Bible interpretation: Inspired by James White and Michael Brown

The four deaths

A popular song in modern English-speaking churches is “How deep the Father’s love for us.” It’s theme is “I want to be where you are, i want to be with you.”

Here is the hip-hop chorus

I just wanna be (clap, clap)
I just wanna be (clap, clap) with You

The Bible says many times, as in the letters of Paul, that to be a Christian is to be “in Christ” and “Christ in you.” Christians are born of God (born again), which entails that Christ lives – through the Holy Spirit – in them. To be “without” Christ in this life means Christ is not indwelling that person. “Without Christ” is not the opposite of “with Christ.” “Without Christ” means “not IN Christ,” which is the spiritual state of the unsaved. “With Christ,” on the other hand, means to join Christ in his glorified state – on the right hand of the Father in heaven. This means be with Christ now – chop chop..

So, Christian, IN whom Christ lives, do you still want to be WITH Christ? If so, you have sentenced yourself to death – the death of your body. If that is not really what you want, stop singing these silly adolescent boyfriend-girlfriend songs.

(See In Christ and with Christ: I wanna be with you).

If there are four loves (C.S. Lewis) then there must be four deaths.

– A “living death,” an expression of non-believers that describes a miserable life.
– The death of the body, which happens to all without exception.
– The New Testament “second death,” another name for being cast by God into eternal darkness after the death of the body.

There is a fourth kind of death, also Christian: “I want to be like Christ (in this life).

wpid-312.jpeg

“The most dangerous prayer a human being could ever pray, says Paul Washer is, “Lord, make me like Christ. I don’t care if you have to dethrone me. I don’t care if you have to tear apart my ministry. I don’t care if you have to destroy me. I don’t care what happens. Make me like Jesus Christ.”

“It is practically calling a death sentence upon yourself. But then, again, ‘Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit’ (John 12:24).” (Pray and be alone with Christ).

Thanks for Being Rude…no, really, Thanks.

I posted a question on Wintery Knight’s blog regarding the debate between Michael Brown, an Arminian, and James White, a Calvinist. Wintery is an Arminian, that is, he does NOT- as is the situation with most professing Christians – believe that a person is so dead (in sin) that he is unable to choose to believe in Jesus Christ. Here is my comment to Wintery: “Hi Wintery, Your position seems to be that there is something inherent in people that (inwardly) determines their acceptance of Christ. Is that correct?” As many others have found with Wintery Knight’s “awaiting moderation,” my comment ended up in the fiery moat. I posted another Arminian-unfriendly comment on another blog a few days ago. It is still awaiting moderation. It seems, alas, conflagration as well. Hope I’m wrong. I don’t want to be rude but as a brooding Calvinist, I feel compelled to confront Arminianism whenever I have the chutzpah to do so. I posted this comment in “Thanks for Being Rude…no, really, Thanks,” which i now reblog from the site of “Clothed with Joy.” Thanks for not being rude about me being rude. My comment on #3 (fleshed out a bit): You say “her attitude reminded me of others who were presented with a much more marvelous gift and responded, not with gratitude, but with rudeness, hate, disdain and ignorance. Jesus. On the cross. Making a way for sinful, hopeless humanity to once again be with God. Emmanuel, God With Us. And what has been the response to this most excellent gift over the centuries? Gratitude, yes, thankfully, occasionally, yes; but much more often, the response to this gift is rudeness, hate, disdain and ignorance.” The gist: people are offered the gift of salvation but many refuse. So, for you, which is the majority Christian view – it’s called Arminianism, people are not born dead in sins, as we read in Ephesians 2: Ephesians 2:5-9 [My square brackets]: Even when we were dead in sins, [he] hath quickened [regenerated] us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. It seems that by “dead” in sins, you mean “deadish,” that is, there remains in every unregenerate person enough power to grab the gift of faith. But this cannot be if it is true that faith is a gift, which is what “THAT not of yourselves,” means. There is nothing about a possible gift. If that were so, then faith would not be God’s gift to you but your gift to God. Jesus is a savior, not a possible savior because “possible” means possible failure, a miserable failure,, because as you conveyed and as the Bible says few are those that enter through the narrow gate. Jesus died for his sheep. Those who reject Jesus are not of his flock, as is clear in John 10. His sheep hear his voice. John 10 22 At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” The causal connection in 10:27 is not “hear his voice and then become his sheep” but “if you are a sheep you will – certainly – hear his voice.” This becomes crystal clear (one would think!) in John 6:35-44, specifically v. 35, 40 and 44. 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” 41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. But Arminians cannot or refuse to follow the grammar.

Clothed with Joy

Untitled

On Saturday I had the opportunity to join with friends and strangers to pack and deliver Thanksgiving food items to five families in a very poor city in NJ. I’ve written about it here, Loving with My Eyes Wide Open. This post is not so much a follow up as it is a reflection on one particular aspect of the day’s deliveries.

Nine of us, three adults and six children, piled into a 12 passenger van with our boxes full of frozen turkey and gravy, cans of green beans and boxes of stuffing and miscellaneous other items, and headed to our first address. It was like the weirdest treasure hunt ever.

It seemed best if everyone stayed in the vehicle and I went alone to knock on doors to make sure someone was at home before opening the van and allowing the children out. Sadly, we struck out at Home #1…

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A Christmas sermon: Mary, the mother of the Saviour. God’s mothering something bigger in you

Many pastors use the Bible as a springboard to leap into their seeker-driven cesspool of self. In the next three posts, I discuss three of these sermons, two of which come from Chris Rosebrough’s podcast “Fighting for the Faith,” and the third from one I heard in a church a little while ago. Here is the first one from Kory Cassell. I give verbatim highlights. My comments appear in square brackets. The sermon begins after the first hour of the podcast (“A sound membrane is bulging,” December 14, 2014).

Cassell’s text for the sermon is Luke 1:26 – 33:

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, fyou will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and gyou shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God iwill give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

At minute 15 of his podcast, Rosebrough gives a foretaste of Kory Cassell’s sermon entitled “Name your Nazareth.”

Rosebrough – With a name like that [for a sermon] there is no way to rescue the sermon. It’s not going to be an exegesis but a narcigesis, reading your own self into the biblical text, which is pretty much what we’ve heard from every seeker-driven “Christmas”sermon we have heard on “Fighting for the Faith.” [There are hundreds of these on “Fighting for the Faith”].

The sermon begins at the one-hour mark. I start at minute 19 into in the sermon. [Cassell’s key word is “send” (Greek apostolo). His message is that every Christian is an apostolo, is sent. How does that fit into the text he is using? And what are Christians sent to do?]

Cassell – My father has sent me on a mission. [Using his earthly father as a springboard to his heavenly Father].

Rosebrough – What has this got to do with the Christmas story. Let’s take a look again at the text he is preaching from Luke 1:26. [Rosebrough quotes the text]. Who is this about? The arrival of none other than the Son of David, the King, Jesus, the Messiah… the one whom we should be listening to. And you’re focusing on the Greek word apostolo (send), and now you’re changing from [the text] being about Jesus to we’re all to have a special sending from God and all be purpose-driven. The purpose of pastors is to preach the word.

Cassell – When it says that you’re sent, it comes with certain things implied there. The first thing is that there is a purpose, everybody say purpose [garbled “*&$$$£”]. What is my purpose? …When you have a purpose, you are sent. Say purpose [“$%$$£$%$^”]. This implies there is a choice. Everybody say choice [“C3$*@S”]. As human beings we do have free will …”

Rosebrough – Actually no. The scriptures say that when it comes to the things of God we are born dead in trespasses and sins. God is the one who makes us alive.” [He quotes Ephesians 2] “

[1] And you were dead in the trespasses and sins [2] in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—[3] among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. [4] But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, [5] even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—[6] and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, [7] so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. [8] For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, [9] not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

We are born, says Rosebrough, with a bound will [Luther’s “Bondage of the will”], no free will [to choose Christ].”

Cassell – When I get up in the morning, God has sent me with a purpose to serve my community. Am I going to go? There’s a purpose, there’s a choice, say choice [“^&%$$”]. God the creator of the universe has sent you to your family, to your workplace… My Father believed in me, he trusted me.

Rosebrough – So God believed in us. Isn’t the call of scripture for us to believe and trust in Christ? All this is based on his bunny trail of the word “sent.” He’s not actually exegeting the text at all.

Cassell – And there is something about knowing that the creator of the universe believes in you and he trusted that you are capable.

Rosebrough – Where in scripture does it explicitly say that God believed in you. [Nowhere. Where does it say so implicitly? Also, zilch].

Cassell – The first thing we see here [in Luke 1] is that Gabriel was sent. We serve a sending God. Everybody say sent [“s£%$$$”]. He was sent to a village of Nazareth. Everybody say Nazareth [“£%^*()£££$”]… Nazareth was overlooked, nobody looked at it… undervalued, insignificant. God sent Gabriel to this insignificant place. This raises the question: “What place in our lives…what is that space in your life that feels insignificant, overlooked and undervalued?

Rosebrough – NO! This is not how you read the Bible. This is not about you. It’s not about God sending your undervalued, insignificant Nazareth in your life. This is the story of the announcement and the birth of the saviour of the world.

Cassell– The first thing we have to do if we want to find God’s favor is to name our Nazareth.

Rosebrough – Was that how Mary was able to find God’s favor? What kind of nonsense is this?

Cassell – God sent Gabriel to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, say Nazareth [“%£££%$$$”], to Mary. He said “Greetings oh favoured one. You have found favour. Everybody say favour [“Flavour” or something?].

Rosebrough – She found favour long before the angel showed up.

Cassell – Where did Mary find favor? In [Audience pips Cassell – “*^z££$$*^@!”]. In Nazareth. An overlooked and undervalued place. That is where Mary found favor.

Rosebrough – Was it because she was in Nazareth or was it because she found faith? Hebrews 11 says, without faith it is impossible to please God.

Cassell – So where do we find favor? In Nazareth.

Rosebrough – We find favour in Christ.

Cassell – He [Gabriel] said “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” What does that tell us? What God wants to do in you and through you is so much bigger… [Bigger than what God has done through Mary – conceiving the Messiah, God made flesh!]

Rosebrough – This has nothing to do with what God wants to do in me and through me. This has everything to do with what God did in and through the virgin Mary for me.

[That’s one sermon that should have been smothered at birth. But I’m sure it has a purpose]. 

Related: The seeker- and shikker-driven church

 

Holy Whore

Jeff Benner writes:

“When we use the word holy, as in a holy person, we usually associate this with a righteous or pious person. If we use this concept when interpreting the word holy in the Hebrew Bible then we are misreading the text as this is not the meaning of the Hebrew word qadosh. Qadosh literally means “to be set apart for a special purpose”. A related word, qedesh, is one who is also set apart for a special purpose but not in the same way we think of “holy” but is a male prostitute (Deut 23:17). Israel was qadosh because they were separated from the other nations as servants of God. The furnishings in the tabernacle were qadosh as they were not to be used for anything except for the work in the tabernacle. While we may not think of ourselves as “holy” we are in fact set apart from the world to be God’s servants and representatives” (Ancient Hebrew meanings by Jeff Benner, Ancient Hebrew Research Center http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/27_holy.html).

So, holiness in a Christian means living in the world but not of the world; part of the world but set apart from the world (system). “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou should take them out of the world, but that thou should keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:14-16).

And the relationship between the Christian and God? The Christian is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and so is never apart from God. But also never a part of God. The Bible’s main focus is on who God is; on the God who is (YAHWEH). Although the scriptures are mainly about God, they totally FOR you; for all – without exception, For their salvation or their damnation.

When you think the Gospel is the raw material God is using to write a Gospel about you, you are apart from God. A whore (qedesh – qadesha). “You shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel” (Deuteronomy 23:17).

Related: “Stop awhoring with the enemies of Christ unless God wants you to.” https://onedaringjew.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/stop-awhoring-with-the-enemies-of-christ-unless-god-wants-you-to/

The seeker- and the shikker-driven church

Narcissism and alcoholism have this in common; they focus heavily on self. They differ in that the former always, by definition, from beginning to end, centres on the love of self. Alcoholism, in contrast, often has its roots in the hatred of self.

Now, consider the explosive success of “seeker-driven” movements, which attract swathes of new converts to “Jesus, my provider.” Seeker-driven preachers/pastors – for example, Joel Osteen and Rick Warren – use snippets of Bible to illustrate the stories they tell about the great plans God’s got for your life. In other words, they substitute exegesis for narcigesis, In passing, there are only two great plans that God’s got for your life – heaven or hell.

If I were a preacher and could – I’m only saying; I know I can’t or shouldn’t – choose between a seeker-driven congregation or a shikker-driven one, I’d go for winning friends and people under the influence (ambiguity intended) rather than influence friends and people with the seeker-drivel that is such an insult to the Gospel.

rabbi-wine

Shikkker – Yiddish for “plastered.”

P.S. What is the Gospel?

1 Corinthians 15:1-5

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve.

 

The invention of Shlomo Sand – a thousand “Jews” make one Palestinian

Israel is at the centre of Western and Middle-Eastern politics. One of my “followers” (fellow heirs?) asked me whether there is a genetic basis to Jewishness. I wrote about this issue here.

OneDaring Jew

Addendum (3 November 2011): Since the writing of this piece, one Israeli soldier held in captivity for five years by Hamas was exchanged for a thousand Palestinian prisoners, and more, who were held in Israeli prisons. Having added this, I won’t be writing a piece called ”The detention of Gilad Shalit: a thousand ”Palestinians” make one Jew.”

I’d like to examine a little more the question, What is a Jew?”. In his book “When and How the Jewish People Was Invented?”, the Tel Aviv University historian, Prof. Shlomo Sand, argues that the Jews living outside of Israel as well as most of the Jews living in Israel have not descended from the Judeans of the First and Second Temple period. The Jews of Europe (the Ashkenazis), of North Africa (the Sephardis) and the Jewish Yemenites are all descendants of non-Jews who converted in earlier centuries. Of special interest to me is, of…

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Facebook: “Friends” and the stoking of envy

“We are told that this new digital world is making all of us more connected, more social. Social media dominates our lives, and even if it can easily be perverted to the anti-social, self-gratifying purposes of Greed as I discussed in a previous article, it does serve as a genuine means of fostering and multiplying relationships. Little wonder, then, that with the explosion of the “social,” we should find this quintessentially social vice of Envy rearing its ugly head. Part of the problem is simply that we are likely to have many more “friends,” or at least acquaintances, than we would have had before. If it is our friends whom we are most likely to envy, most likely to compare ourselves with and to compete for reputation with, then the more we have, and the more whose accomplishments we keep track of, the more occasions we will have for envy” (Brad LittleJohn).

http://www.reformation21.org/articles/the-seven-deadly-sins-in-a-digital-age-v-envy.php


					

Journal of Biblical Apologetics: Past Volumes Free as PDF

In-depth critiques of Roman Catholicism and Islam.

The Domain for Truth

Note: I had a long day on Friday so I wasn’t able to post yesterday on Veritas Domain.

journal of biblical apologetics

The Journal of Biblical Apologetics was published between the Fall of 2000 to Spring of 2008 and edited by Dr. Robert Morey.  While I do have some reservation with endorsing everything Robert Morey has to say, nevertheless in the past I have found some of the things that Dr. Morey said to be helpful.  I also appreciated The Journal of Biblical Apologetics because the Journal also featured other solid Christian Scholars writing on various topics.  There are also reprints of articles by well known apologists like Gordon Clark, Walter Martin, etc.

The Journal is now available online for free as a PDF!  You can download them below:

  1. JBA01—PDF
  2. JBA02—PDF
  3. JBA03—PDF
  4. JBA04—PDF
  5. JBA05—PDF
  6. JBA06—PDF
  7. JBA07—PDF
  8. JBA08—PDF
  9. JBA09–PDF
  10. JBA10–PDF
  11. JBA11–PDF 

What were the different topics that the Journal of Biblical Apologetics‘ addressed?

  1. Volume…

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Sloth in the digital age

You can’t be irredeemably slothful if you knuckle down to read this excellent piece. For one, it shows you have not totally acceded to the sorrow for spiritual good and so lost all desire for excellence.

The Seven Deadly Sins in a Digital Age: 4. Sloth
ARTICLE BY W. BRADFORD LITTLEJOHN NOVEMBER 2014

Here are the first two paragraphs:

When we come to the subject of Sloth in a Digital Age, the diagnosis might seem obvious, if a tad moralistic. We are all familiar with the couch potato glued to the TV screen, or the teenager who neglects his homework for video games, or her homework for Instagram. In the modern world, we are taught to work only for the sake of attaining leisure, and digital media have become our favorite source of leisure. The vice of sloth, then, we deem, is the sin of laziness, of failing to be as productive as God calls us to be.

For all its apparent familiarity, though, perhaps none of the traditional vices is so unfamiliar to us as Sloth. Indeed, our English word is quite insufficient; the actual Latin name for the vice is acedia, a word for which there is really no good translation. Aquinas’s formal definition of the vice–“sorrow for spiritual good”–will probably only confuse us still further. But let us try to unpack it. “Sloth,” says Aquinas, “is an oppressive sorrow, which . . . so weighs upon man’s mind, that he wants to do nothing” (ST IIaIIae Q. 35 a. 1 resp.). More specifically, it is “sorrow in the Divine good about which charity rejoices” (ST IIaIIae Q. 35 a. 2 resp.). “Sorrow” here means less an active sadness and more an apathetic lack of love and joy, above all, a lack of joy in God, a disposition that is deadly indeed.
– See more at: http://www.reformation21.org/articles/the-seven-deadly-sins-in-a-digital-age-4-sloth.php#sthash.Bm4XcT32.dpuf

Did God really say “Prevenient” Grace

In the foreword to David Garner’s (author, editor) “Did God Really Say?: Affirming the Truthfulness and Trustworthiness of Scripture, 2012, Robert C. Cannada, Jr. et al. write:

“The Reformation’s commitment to Sola Scriptura was a call to biblical authority and to a biblically defined hermeneutic that resulted in a biblically clear message. This message is the saving work of Christ: “those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation” (Westminster Confession of Faith). Thus, the infallible Word when interpreted by its own infallible hermeneutic leads to the clear and saving truth captured by another great Reformation motto: Solus Christus. The incarnate Word is discovered in the inspired and written Word. While not all of Scripture is equally clear (“all things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all” – Westminster Confession of Faith) the glorious redemptive grace found in Jesus Christ is clear even to the untrained student of Scripture (“not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them”).”

As the Westminster Confession says the message of sola scriptura (scripture alone) is the saving work of Christ, namely, “those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation.”

Now “grace” is something “necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation.” The problem is that “grace” for the Arminian and the Calvinist is as different as “faith plus works” and “faith alone” in justification. In Arminianism, grace (“prevenient” grace, which is not in the Bible) possibly saves, whereas in Calvinism, grace does nothing else but save. Yet both Arminians and Calvinists believe that grace is glorious and love singing “Amazing grace.”

For an examination of this contradiction see my previous post at https://onedaringjew.wordpress.com/2014/11/28/free-willy-amazing-grace-and-the-the-grrrrr-ammar-of-bible-interpretation-inspired-by-james-white-and-michael-brown/

Free Willy: Amazing grace and the grammar of Bible interpretation. Inspired by James White and Michael Brown

 

In the last 16 minutes of his Dividing Line podcast of 26 November, 2014, James White comments on Michael Brown’s anti-Calvinism. White plays excerpts of Brown and comments.

Brown – Who “would ever dream that we could take credit for our salvation in any way? The thought boggles my mind.”

White – The fundamental issue is if God has sought to save every single person equally. And if he has not, and you are one of the pan-benevolent advocates where you believe that God does not have an electing love, he does not have a redemptive love, that there are  no differentiations in God’s love, that he has no special love for Israel that he hasn’t had for Egypt…If you believe that God has tried to save every person equally, then why is one person saved and another isn’t? That was what Brian [a caller on Michael Brown’s podcast] was trying to say to Michael. If God tried to save my neighbour equal to myself, I’m saved and he’s not, what are the only possible grounds to look to as to why I differ from that person. It’s me. It’s not the grace of God, it’s not the choice of God. It’s me, me, me. I was the one who was either more sensitive, in some ways spiritually better than someone who doesn”t get saved. If there have been equal attempts, you have to start answering questions of election, you have to deal with the reality that God gave advantages to his people, for example, that he did not give to the Babylonians, the Amorites and the Egyptians. So God made a choice to act in that fashion. So what is the basis of that choice and what’s the purpose of that choice does the Bible say? 

Brown – I never thought it [that he had anything to do with his salvation] as non-Calvinist, I never thought it as Calvinist [Brown was once a Calvinist]. Salvation is from the Lord. It’s all his grace. I sang amazing grace, exactly the same. I’m amazed at his goodness and kindness that he could pour out his grace on a wretched human race with all the sin and evil deeds we committed. Jesus died for us and calls us to himself. How extraordinary. How mind boggling!

White – What do you mean by that Michael? From my perspective, if you believe in prevenient grace – you’ve used the term on other occasions – is that the grace we sing about? Is that the grace Newton [John Newton, author of “Amazing grace”) was writing about? No, no. When I sing about the grace of God, I sing about the grace of God that Titus 2 describes, that grace that brings salvation. It’s not a grace that tries to bring salvation; it does. From my perspective, I’ll make it clear, there’re only two consistent views here: Universalist and the Calvinist. The one in the middle doesn’t work. The grace that saves in Titus chapter 2, that “has appeared to all men,” that either means Jews and Gentiles – that’s what it means – or everybody, which does not make a lick of sense because there were lots of people in that day that it had not appeared to. The point is grace saves, and that’s why all of this is to the praise of his glorious grace. How please can someone explain to me…someone has actually written a book on prevenient grace…Where in the Bible is this prevenient grace? It’s purpose is not actually to save but to make saveable. Or tries to save but fails to save, or what? I don’t know. I cannot get consistent definitions out of folks on it. But when I see “to the praise of his glorious grace,” in Ephesians chapter 1, I can’t see how that applies to prevenient grace. Are you really going to go to the point of saying “praise God for that prevenient grace that tried to save them Amorites but saved nobody,” while the wrath of God was [poured out] in the destruction of the Amorites via the Israelite army? What is that?

How do you praise God for a grace that accomplishes nothing? I don’t know, but it is something that has to be discussed. 

Brown – The fact is the reason I ultimately abandoned Calvinism was out of my reverence for a holy God before whom I bow, out of my hatred and rejection of the man-centred Gospel of the 21st century American church…because I was convinced that the testimony of scripture read honestly without preconception from beginning to end was against Calvinism. So what I want to do is just give you an overview of that.

In his next podcast, White says he will return to Brown.

Two dialogues between the Arminian, John, and the Calvinist, Paul. “Grammar” in the dialogue refers to the etymological Greek meaning “any writing,” in our context, the scriptures. So “grammatical” in “grammatical-historical” meaning refers to the linguistic context of a text. And as we all know, the three rules of interpretation are context, context, context.

Dialogue 1 – Subject matter John 1:13

12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (NIV).

Young’s Literal translation: “who not of blood nor of a will of flesh, nor of a will of man (Greek aner) but — of God were begotten.” New American Standard Bible (NASB): “who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. NIV : “children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”

Characters: John (as in Wesley); Paul (as in Tarsus)

Paul – What does “not of blood” mean?


John – It means not of human descent.

Paul – Glad you’re following the grammar.

John – Grrrrr.

Paul – ammar. What does “not of the will of the flesh” mean?


John – It means “not of a man’s/husband’s decision.”

Paul – Good.

John – Grrrrrrrr.

Paul – What does “not of the will of man” mean?


John – Also, not of a husband’s decision.

Paul – So, both the “will of the husband’s flesh” and the “will/decision of man,” – could I also add “of blood, refers to the husband’s willy? How do you get that from the grammar.

John – Grrrrrrrrrrrr.

In sum, for John, and Arminians in general, “human decision, in other words, the “will of man,” cannot refer to the mind/spirit of believers but to their very fleshy fathers; for (Paul loves this connecting word) “human decision” and the “will of man” must, for Arminians, refer to the sexual desire of the believer’s Pappy. Which leaves the inviolable sacred will of the believer intact and free to choose to be born again. (See “Of being born again and a husband’s one track mind”).

Dialogue 2

Bible text – John 6: “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day…No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:37-40; 44).

Paul – Does a person come because he is given (by the Father), or is the person given because the Father peeked down the corridors of time and foresaw that the person had decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back?

John – Because he decided?

Paul – But don’t you get the logical and causal progression: Given – Come (– Eternal life). It’s clear in the …

John – Grrrrrrammar, I know!

End of dialogues

If we are saved by grace alone (and we are) how can anyone be saved if they believe salvation is a cooperation between man and God.” John Hendryx explains:

If they are consistent, since they do not believe grace is effectual, Arminians must ascribe their repenting and believing to their own wisdom, humility, sound judgment and good sense. However, I tend on the side of being generous if Arminians affirm that they justly deserve the wrath of God save for Christ’s mercy alone, which most Arminians do. So we do not exactly hold the view that Arminians are lost. Much bad theology turns out merely to be inconsistent theology and it is possible to be saved in spite of bad theology, but only if you are inconsistent, and you don’t really believe what you think or say you believe. I find, in my many encounters with Arminians, that this is usually the case. Thankfully I think a good number Arminians are inconsistent, and they don’t really believe what they say. For example, they pray for God to bring friends and neighbors to salvation – why? God has no power (or right) to do that, according to Arminianism. But some Arminians (I would argue, the ones that are saved) know in their heart that salvation IS all the work of God and IS all by grace. So they pray for God to save sinners! Their true theology comes out in their prayers, even if they don’t want to admit it. I feel that, over time and with patience, these people would become reformed in theology if they had good teaching and instruction. (John Hendryx). See Arminians who confuse and refuse: free will in coming to Christ).

In the last part of James White’s podcast above, Michael Brown says:

And I’ll be clear, and it’s no disrespect towards those who differ with me. I realise we all come the same way, the way of the cross, I recognise that on that day that all glory and honor with go to the Lord. I recognise that not any of us can take any credit whatsoever for our salvation.”

James White comments on Brown’s statement:

Now this is why hyper-Calvinists need to be very careful about the judgments they pass on people. I’m going to disagree with almost everything Michael is going to say in his presentation, but I believe he means what he means when he says this,  and therefore I find him inconsistent. But if you believe that, I accept that you believe that, and a hyperCalvinist, who is a rationalist, as is the hyperArminian [I wonder what the connection is between rationalism and hyper anything], says he [Brown] cannot say that [the person saved makes the possible saviour into an effectual saviour] and believe what he says afterwards [namely, God gets all the glory for salvation]. On yes he can, continues White. And we are going to find out some day that we all do stuff like that. And that is why we (Brown and White) can join together on homosexuality and the trinity, and things like that, even though we have debated how many times on this [Calvinism].”

White stresses that he is referring to the inconsistent Arminian, who, like all inconsistent people, “do stuff like that.” “Blesséd inconsistency, curséd consistency, Jesus is mine.”

If you believe that, you, an unregenerate person, can/has come to Christ (ultimately) on your own steam (you get to make the final decision), you must also say that Christ is begging people to come to him but in most cases fails. But how can God fail when it is clear that “I will do all my pleasure.”

Isaiah 46:9-10
9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure. Do you really believe that God gets a kick out of failure? Yep, that’s what you must think BUT  will not to.

I have found it very difficult to attend an Arminian church, Bible study – or even pray together, unless it is the Lord’s prayer. The reason is that everything Christian should flow from the sovereignty and absolute freedom of God. Sovereignty is not something God has, it is who he is, and, as we read in Isaiah above, he’s not going to give any of it to anyone. He is sovereign in all things, not least, salvation. Salvation is of the Lord. Grammatically speaking, all salvation.

 “Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.”

The Slaughter of Isaac’ s (holy?) laughter

Much exegesis is nothing more than “axegesis,” a slaughter of the text. As an example, I shall examine  laughter in Genesis. Although Abraham didn’t ultimately slaughter Isaac (Hebrew for “he laughed”), “axegetes” go all the way: laughter lies slaughtered on the slab. (This post is a follow-on from “Digging below the surface of Torah, Midrash and Vulgate: When very good is evil”).

In the rabbinic oral law we find the analysis of texts at multiple levels of which the surface level is the first and shallow level. Rabbi Barry Freundel explains:The revelatory character of the material in the Bible serves as a rationale and multiple-level analysis of these texts that one finds in the rabbinic literature called the oral law. The Bible represents miraculous information. As such, while it can and should be read on its most idiomatically understandable level (what we call peshat) other levels of interpretation are also available because of the very nature of the origin of the text. These other levels are called derash, or deeper analysis, remez, or hints, which includes such things as gematria (numerological parallels and notarikon (words whose deeper meaning is revealed by the abbreviations hidden behind the letters); and sod, or secret analysis, meaning esoteric or mystical interpretation.” When it comes to the written biblical text, it “should be read on its most idiomatically understandable level (what we call peshat) other levels of interpretation are also available because of the very nature of the origin of the text” (Rabbi Freundel above). The question is: how many different meanings does God intend to reveal to us through the words he “speaks”? There may indeed be several levels of meanings; from a Christian point of view, the whole notion of New Testament typology depends on the existence of at least two meanings. A typology (a type) is “the preordained representative relation which certain persons, events, and institutions of the Old Testament bear to corresponding persons, events, and institutions in the New” (Terry 1890, 246. Christian Courier). For example, Succoth (feast of Tabernacles) commemorates Israel’s sojourn in the midbar wilderness (Leviticus 23:43). Succoth is the type that reminds us that we are merely sojourners on this earth (1 Peter 2:11): “Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.”

While we’re on our sojourn through the midbar of words, here is an interesting connection” “wilderness” midbar” could also be understood as midaber “wording, speaking,” or as m’devar/m’dibbur, “away from words, without a word, beyond words.” But, interesting as this excursion is, if we sojourn here, our discourse will certainly run off into the wilderness , which we must not do here. In “Letters of Hebrew fire – the depth and death of meaning and Digging below the surface of Torah, Midrash and Vulgate: When very good is evil, I touched on Rabbi Glazerson’s book “Philistine and Palestinian” (1995). Most of Glazerson’s book deals with the connection between the “deeper significance of the letters,” (the Gematria) and the surface text. What I’d like to discuss here is a rare chapter in his book – rare because it excludes the use of Gematria, and deals instead with the surface text. The way he deals with the surface text is what my subject is about. When we think of laughter in the Bible, Sarah, Isaac’s mother, often comes to mind: “Let’s examine, says a commentator, the bible record, and see how and when God’s people laughed. We immediately think of Sarah, who laughed when God told her she would have a Son in her old age. I admire Sarah for laughing. I wouldn’t find the news too amusing!” The above commentator is, in my view, on the right track; he understands the text. The next commentator, in contrast, has gone off the rails. The Bible commentator Kley Yakor/Keli Yakar/Kli Yakar (Shlomo Ephraim ben Aaron Luntschitz ) discusses this miracle as follows:

 ”Sarah saw that a miracle happened to her against nature. She went back to her youth, when she was a girl. She felt that not for nothing did a miracle happen to her…She said, I who received back my time and period, it is because of my worthiness. Perhaps I will live much longer. But my husband’s youth did not return to him and he will not live much longer. Why then does he need a son in his old age? That is the reason that she laughed [Genesis 18:13].”

(Shlomo Ephraim ben Aaron Luntschitz (1550 –March 3rd 1619) was a rabbi, poet and Torah commentator, best known for his Torah commentary Keli Yakar  (“precious vessel” – an allusion to Proverbs 20:15) on the Torah which first appeared in Lublin in 1602. It still appears in many editions of the Torah).

Many have forgotten or are unaware that Abraham laughed as well, and first, that is, before Sarah. It could very well be that Sarah took her lead from Abraham. Laughter in the Bible appears for the first time in Genesis 17, and it was Abraham who had that first laugh:15 God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” 17 Abraham fell face down and laughed …” Why was Abraham’s son, his “only son”יְחִידְךָ yechidkha, called Isaac Yitzchak “he laughed.”

What does “only son” mean in verse 17: 2 Genesis 22:1 And He said: ‘Take now thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest, even Isaac, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.’ Ishmael was also a son, the elder son. “Only son” means that it was through Isaac that the nation of “Israel” (also called an “only son”), the son of the promise, was to be born. In Genesis 17:19, we read “And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, [and] with his seed after him.”

Let’s read Glazerson’s explanation of (what he calls) the “real” meaning of Isaac’s name (laughter) and see what he does with this laughter. We read in Genesis 17:17:Abraham fell face down and laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” In his chapter, “Isaac and the Philistines” (pp. 99-100), Glazerson contrasts what he calls Isaac’s pure holy Torah laughter with the Philistines’ mocking laughter at Torah:We can, says Glazerson, see some of his titanic strength in his name יִצְחָק “Isaac.” Coming from the root צחק “to laugh,” this name signals his lofty perception of the physical world: a passing shadow only worth laughing at. Someone whose world-view was so very much the opposite of the Philistines’ had nothing to fear from them. This is why Isaac acquiesced so easily in the test of the Akeidah [binding of Isaac], his Binding as a sacrifice. For Abraham it was a severe trial to slay his son, but for Isaac it was not at all hard to give up a world that was worth nothing in his eyes.”

Here is the relevant verse: Genesis 22:10 -Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter לִשְׁחֹט lishkhot his son – my square brackets]. Where did the laughter on Abraham’s and Sarah’s face go? According to Glazerson, it went no place; it’s still where it always was: deep in the heart of Isaac. But wasn’t it Abraham and Sarah who laughed? Doesn’t the surface text (which is not the same as “superficial” text) say so very clearly? Isaac’s name was a typical biblical example of naming a child after what the parent/s experienced at the time of the child’s birth. Here are some other examples: Gen 35:17-18 “And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her [Jacob’s wife’s Rachel], Fear not; thou shalt have this son also. And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni (son of my sorrow): but his father called him Benjamin (son of my right hand).” Another example: In Gershom, the sojourner: the sound of one monkey chewing I wrote about my brother Gerald (Gershom). Gershom was one of Moses’ sons. How did Gershom get his name? “Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came and drew water and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. The shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and saved them, and watered their flock. When they came home to their father Reuel, he said, “How is it that you have come home so soon today?” They said, “An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds and even drew water for us and watered the flock.” He said to his daughters, “Then where is he? Why have you left the man? Call him, that he may eat bread.” And Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah. She gave birth to a son, and he called his name Gershom, for he said, ‘I have been a sojourner in a foreign land’ ” (Exodus, 2:16-22).] To return to Glazerson: when Abraham was about to slaughter his son on the altar, Isaac burst forth into holy laughter, for his life (on earth), says Glazerson, was worth nothing in his eyes. For Isaac, was there no terror of death? How terribly unlike King David, and the typical Israelite. (Abraham’s attitude in the “sacrifice” of Isaac was an exception). If Hebrew (in translation) has any meaning, there is one thing we can be absolutely certain about in the texts we are discussing; “laughter” and “slaughter” have only five things in common: l-a-u-g-h. When you’re on a journey and take what you think is the right turn on yourmap, but which, in fact, is the wrong turn on themap, you’re quite happy until you discover you’ve made a faux pas. Sometimes you never discover the mistake. The confusion may – indeed often does – lead to all kinds of interesting discoveries.

For example, Jacques Derrida, the “rebbe” of deconstruction, in his “The Tower of Babel,” mistakes the etymology of “Babel” as “Father God,” when in fact Babel means “Gate of God.” That confusion took him and the reader of his text on a very interesting detour (of Babel). (See my Babel: Can Derrida’s Tour (Surprisingly) Translate Us Anywhere?). Derrida was not into mythologising history. When Derrida dug deep into the sedimentations of a text, what interested him were not the mythological, but the historical sedimentations. The surface text had more than an imaginative relationship to the layers underneath. In many rabbinical commentaries on the Tanakh, I see more imaginative excursions than fidelity to the surface text. Without a solid surface, both the archaeologist and the biblical exegete are in danger of falling down holes and getting hurt. In the exegete’s case, not even a holy hole will stop the fall. Where does Glazerson take Isaac’s “holy laughter to?” To Purim, out of which he concocts an antidote to the Philistine’s unholy laughter:This kind of holy laughter is revealed on the supremely holy day of Purim. By dressing up in costume, we are saying that as Jews, we know that all externals, everything material, is only a disguise, and that the truth is hidden underneath, in the spiritual realm.”Isaac’s laughter is the antidote to the Philistines’ unclean, mocking laughter at out values and the the truths of Torah. Only by strengthening our understanding of those values will we rise above our enemies scorn.” There’s nothing wrong with the English translation of Glazerson’s Hebrew text, nor with the organisation of ideas. The question is, though, what has all this got to do with Isaac. Once when I was lecturing in English at the University of Fort Hare (South Africa), the Head of English came storming into my office with a student exam essay that I had marked – and failed. “What’s wrong with this paper. It’s perfectly good English!” “Yes, I replied, the English is good, but the essay is off topic.” And that’s what’s wrong with Glazerson, and with many rabbinical interpretations of scripture. So, far I’ve been pulling and tearing at Glazerson’s “syntactic joints and semantic flesh,” which only deconstructionists should have the right to do. What I would like to do now is present my interpretation – which I would think is the normal and correct way – of the “laughter” passages under discussion. Here are the relevant Torah sections in Genesis of the Isaac story (Genesis 17-18). I italicize sections related to laughter.

[“syntactic joints and semantic flesh” – Johnson, Barbara. 1985. Taking Fidelity Philosophically. In: Difference in Translation In: Graham, J.F. (ed.). Ithaca: Cornell University Press].

Genesis 17

15 God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” 17 Abraham fell face down and laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” Here is the Hebrew of verse 17 “Abraham fell face down and laughed…” וַיִּפֹּל אַבְרָהָם עַל־פָּנָיו וַיִּצְחָק vayipol (and fell) avraham (Abraham) al-panav (on his face) vayitzkhak (and he laughed). “Isaac” is the English for yitzkhak (he laughed). One can laugh for umpteen reasons: amusement, happiness, poke fun, embarrassment the unexpected (for example, the many sudden reversals found in the Tanakh such as the Purim story, where Haman is hanged on the gallows that he prepared for Mordecai), the absurd, friendliness, mischief, compassion, rejoicing; or one can just laugh as a pick-me-up. Why was Abraham laughing? There can’t be that many one-hundred-year-old men and ninety-year-old women still able to have children; well, Abraham, at least, seems to think so. And that’s why he’s cracking up under his own rhetorical question: “Shall a child be born unto him that is a hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?’ And Sarah?Incredulity, there certainly was, but also – from what we learn from the Apostle Paul (and Rashi) – joy. Here are two good commentaries on Abraham’s laughter:

Matthew Henry

Abraham’s joyful, thankful, entertainment of this gracious promise, Genesis 17:17. Upon this occasion he expressed, 1. Great humility: He fell on his face. Note, The more honours and favours God confers upon us the lower we should be in our own eyes, and the more reverent and submissive before God. 2. Great joy: He laughed. It was a laughter of delight, not of distrust. Note, Even the promises of a holy God, as well as his performances, are the joys of holy souls there is the joy of faith as well as the joy of fruition. Now it was that Abraham rejoiced to see Christ’s day. Now he saw it and was glad (John 8:56) for, as he saw heaven in the promise of Canaan, so he saw Christ in the promise of Isaac. 3. Great admiration: Shall a child be born to him that is a hundred years old? He does not here speak of it as at all doubtful (for we are sure that he staggered not at the promise, Romans 4:20), but as very wonderful and that which could not be effected but by the almighty power of God, and as very kind, and a favour which was the more affecting and obliging for this, that it was extremely surprising, Psalm 126:1,2.

Lewis Johnson

Now Abraham’s response is incredulous reaction and I can certainly understand. Abraham fell on his face. That was what he did more than once you know. That’s not bad. Perhaps he had some marks on his face from sudden falls, but we read in verse 3 “and Abram fell on his face” and here again in verse 17. That’s not a bad place for the godly to be; on their face before the Lord. So he fell on his face before the Lord and as he did, he said within his heart, well he laughed first. He laughed. Now there are some kinds of laughter that are the laughter of joy. That is the laughter of joy. For example, when an extra point is kicked, that means the game, or when a field goal is missed by the opponent, that means the game. Lot of good laughter takes place then, hearty laughter. This was laughter and I think in this case, it was the laugher of faith. Now later in the next chapter, Sarah will laugh too, but her laughter happens to be the laughter of unbelief. But his I believe is probably the laughter of belief although there are some things that could be said otherwise, but since God does not reprove Abraham, I am rather inclined to think that it was incredulous reaction, but believing in its essence.

And Sarah:

Genesis 18– 1 And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. 2 Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground… 9 “Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him. “There, in the tent,” he said. 10 Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?” 13 The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh צָחֲקָה and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?

[צָחֲקָה tzokh’kah from the same verb root as yitzkhak he laughed”, namely, צחק tsakhaq.Yitzkhakis the masculine verb form of “Abraham laughed”].

14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” 15 But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.”

Let’s jump to the next relevant passage: 21:3 And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac “he laughed.” The literal meaning of “Isaac” is not “she (Sarah) laughed,” but “he (Abraham laughed). But this has no interest for Glazerson at all, because it’s not Abraham’s laughter or Sarah’s laughter that he sees; it’s Isaac’s laughter – laughing his way into this life and into the next. But, for Glazerson, Isaac’s laughter is not the unholy befuddled laughter of Abraham and Sarah; it’s a holy pure laughter. Is there any record that Isaac laughed at all? Yes there is. “Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out of a window and saw Isaac laughing/sporting [מְצַחֵקm’tzakheik] with Rebekah his wife. So Abimelech called Isaac and said, “Behold, she is your wife. How then could you say, ‘She is my sister’?”” (Genesis 26:8-9). But Isaac’s laughter was certainly not Glazerson’s “holy” laughter or Isaac laughing at the the vanity of the things of this world such as conjugal bliss.

 
 
 

The Incarnation or Substitutionary Atonement, which is the grand miracle? CS Lewis and John MacArthur say the former; George MacDonald, definitely not the latter

Which is the greater miracle? I was reading Martyn Lloyd Jones and thought I’d reblog a piece I wrote on the topic in 2012. Here is Jones: This eternal Son of God, who was still the eternal Son of God, having taken unto Himself this human nature; this one indivisible person, who had two natures instead of one, chose to, and actually did live as a man, taking the form of a servant and humbling Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross Ah, we have been looking at a great and wonderful and glorious mystery. I know of nothing, as I have emphasised repeatedly, more wonderful for us to contemplate and consider. Do you not feel your minds being expanded and stretched? Do you not feel that it is a great privilege to be allowed to look into such wondrous mysteries and glorious truths? God has given us His word that we might do so, not that we might skip over it lightly, but that we might delve into it and try to grasp what has happened. For the message is that God so loved you and so loved me that He called upon His Son to do all this. The Son did it, though He is eternal God. He went into the womb of Mary and was born as a babe and was put into the manger, still God eternal, the Son by whom all things were made. Yes, and He even endured ‘such contradiction of sinners’ (Heb. 12:3) and was spat upon and crucified, and died and was buried. And He did it all because it was the only way whereby you and I could be saved. The only way whereby our sins could be forgiven was that He should bear their punishment. The only way whereby you and I could become partakers of the divine nature was that He should have taken human nature. And having done so, He is able to give us this new nature and prepare us for heaven and for glory. (Martyn Lloyd Jones: “Great Doctrines of the Bible (Three Volumes in One): God the Father, God the Son; God the Holy Spirit; The Church and the Last Things.” Kindle edition, Location 4350.) http://www.amazon.com/Great-Doctrines-Bible-Three-Volumes-ebook/dp/B001GCUC1S

OneDaring Jew

Hugh Binning says of the Trinity, “All mysteries have their rise here, and all of them return hither. This is furthest removed from the understandings of men,—what God himself is, for himself is infinitely above any manifestation of himself. God is greater than God manifested in the flesh, though in that respect he be too great for us to conceive.” (Lecture X11 “Of The Unity Of The Godhead And The Trinity Of Persons“).

Which of the following do you consider the grand Christian miracle, the Incarnation or the Passion? I explain “Passion.” In normal English usage, “passion” means “strong emotion” of short duration. The heart of the “Passion” lies in its historical (etymological) meaning. “Passion” comes from the Latin root passio “to render.” So when we suffer, we have to submit to causes that deprive us of our freedom or well-being. We remain passive (passion). (See

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Love and Wrath of the Lamb: A God who would rather die than kill his enemies?

Revelation 6:15-17
The kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; 16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: 17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

In James White’s Dividing line. 18 November, 2014, 64th minute, he discusses the debate “Old debate new day’ (The video of the debate can be found here).

(I have added words in square brackets to link selected chunks of discourse together. My comments appear in italics)

White – Zahnd doesn’t believe in the plain reading of Paul.

Zahnd – If we are going to understand Jesus, scripture plays a secondary role. Jesus plays the primary role.

White – This is epistemologically schizophrenic. You cannot know Jesus apart from what has been revealed by him… the idea that you can know Jesus and ignore everything the Lord says about Jesus [himself]. [If this is true] You got to credit your own personal Jesus. like designer jeans for religion.

Zahnd – Scripture has a high and authoritative role, but it is to bear witness to Christ who is the true word of God… Let’s be honest: pervasive interpretative pluralism is a reality, and it’s a reality not only because we are limited in our capacity to interpret scripture [but also] because the argument is internal to the text.”

Not sure what Zahnd means by “the argument is internal to the text.” Does he mean that there is no way of penetrating the text to get at the meaning? If so, that would be a bizarre comment. Indeed, if there is no univocal (single) meaning of any text, there would be no justification in calling anything bizarre or bazaar or basar (Hebrew “meat’).

White – Why are there so many interpretations in the Bible? Because [Zahnd says] the Bible is unclear; it’s a bunch of babble.

Zahnd – If I bring Moses and Aaron and Hosea and the writer of psalm 40 to the room and ask does God want sacrifice, they’re going to have a big hairy debate.

[One topic I’m sure, being given such a great opportunity, they would debate is whether Moses’ toeses are roses].

White = No they’re not [going to have a debate] if you’re going to read them in any meaningful fashion.

For Zahn, “meaning” is a fashion parade, catwalk semantics.

Zahnd – Calvin wrote that the reprobate, that is, damned from before birth, are raised up [to be cast into hell]…that through them God’s glory may be revealed.

White – In Exodus [there are] key historical events where God glorifies himself. His glory is demonstrated in the despoiling of the Egyptian gods…Don’t you think the description of the Egyptian army in the Red sea.. the world’s power versus God’s power, you don’t see God glorified in that?

Zahn – God’s beauty, according to Calvin, is displayed in that before birth..I’ll say something that will get me in…you will see that I’m quite bold…[See the rest of Zahn’s statement after White’s interruption below]

White [interrupts] No, we will see that you’re quite twisted in your detestation of Reformed theology.

Zahnd [continues] – God said, I’m going to create one being and I’m going to damn this being to conscious eternal torment before their birth; they’re not going to have any choice but to be damned.

White – Remember they don’t have any choice – [I’m] speaking from the perspective of eternity – ignoring the daily, hourly, momentary, wilful choices of the individuals to love self and not love God…the synergist flattens it all out…there’s not enough in it [the Bible] according to the synergist] to reveal a three dimensional reality of this matter.

Synergism (Arminianism) – Grace and salvation are God’s gift to man; faith is man’s gift to God. This is how many synergists – for example, William Lane Craig – parse Ephesians 2:8 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this [grace and salvation; monergists (Calvinists) say faith as well)] is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. (See The Calvinist robot and the Arminian zombie: grammars of coming to faith).

Zahn – I will create them with the capacity to experience and live eternally under my wrath, I would say to that God, you’re wrong, you’re immoral. You say, “how can you talk back to God like that, he will throw you in his hell.” And I will comfort myself in the ceaseless ages of torment with this one solace that I told the truth.”

Judaism speaks of the good inclination and the evil inclination (yetser “inclination” hara “the evil”). God created both. God created the inclination/capacity to evil. Satan was created with this capacity, Adam was created with this capacity, and so were all mankind. Yet God does not have any evil in himself. Zahnd rejects this. And must, if consistent reject Isaiah 45:7: “Forming light, and preparing darkness, Making peace, and preparing evil [Hebrew ra, I am Jehovah, doing all these things” (Young’s literal translation). Zahnd maintains, elsewhere, that the Old Testament is not what is saying, but what the Hebrews thought he was saying. In contrast, the New Testament, for Zahnd, is what Jesus is saying – because, according to Zahnd, Jesus is all about love, not wrath. (See Can a perfect God create the potential for imperfection?).

White – You just think you’re so hot with that one don’t you? You’ve decided that you’re going to put yourself in the position of the objector in Romans 9 and say you’re really cool in your leather jacket and your emergent shoes because “I told the truth’” that you now think you can know separately from God….We realize the picture you painted of this point was not exactly accurate.

Who is the objector in Romans 9? The one who says it is not fair that God has mercy on some, and unleashes his wrath on others, and, worse, simply because he wills it so. I underline the parts in Romans 9 that Zahnd, and all Arminians/synergists hate:

Romans 9

10 Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. 11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses,

I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
 and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire [will] or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? [It’s not fair]. For who is able to resist his will?” 20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?

22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?

Verses 22-23 contradicts what Zahnd says next.

Zahnd – He’s (God is) not all glorious under Calvin’s system, he’s terrifying. but if he is to be all glorious he must save all if it’s completely under his control.

White – Why? We’re not told. What if his glory is revealed in the manifestation of all of his attributes? A lot of non-clean thinking on Brian Zahnd’s part.

Like all Arminians, Zahnd believes that God tries to save all but fails miserably, because relatively few from each generation are saved. He fails, according to Arminians, because in salvation he has sovereignly handed over his sovereignty to man by giving him the free will to choose him. White points out that God does not have sovereignty, he is sovereignty; it is, like all of his attributes, part of his nature. I am reminded of Isaiah 46:9 Remember former things of old, For I [am] Mighty, and there is none else, God — and there is none like Me.

10 Declaring from the beginning the latter end, And from of old that which hath not been done, Saying, `My counsel doth stand, And all My delight I do.’ 11 Calling from the east a ravenous bird, From a far land the man of My counsel, Yea, I have spoken, yea, I bring it in, I have formed [it], yea, I do it.” (Young’s literal translation).

a ravenous bird” – destruction; by Nebuchadnezzar who is called “an eagle,” both by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 49:22) and Ezekiel (Ezekiel 17:3).

For the Arminian/synergist. God’s counsel does indeed stand, and he delights in all he does. One of his delights is to sacrifice his sovereignty, to be terribly disappointed – heaven is flooded with his frantic tears – not to save all, but that is the price he has to pay for limiting his freedom so that he can grant man the greatest gift of all time and eternity – freedom to decide his eternal destiny. This view is, of course,contrary, as discussed above, to Romans 9.

Zahnd – So instead of saying the reprobate are raised up… [for eternal damnation] that God’s glory may be revealed, I’d rather say being “under the disfigurement of an ugly crucifixion and death, Christ upon the cross is paradoxically the greatest revelation of who God is, because when we look at what God revealed in Christ we discover a God who would rather die than kill his enemies.

Rather die than kill his enemies! No, no, no; not on your nelly.

Isaiah 6

8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” 9 And he said, “Go, and say to this people:

“‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’

10 Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy,
and blind their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.” 11 Then I said, “How long, O Lord?”
And he said:
“Until cities lie waste
 without inhabitant,
and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste, 12 and the Lord removes people far away,
and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. 13 And though a tenth remain in it,
 it will be burned again,
like a terebinth or an oak,
whose stump remains
when it is felled.”
The holy seed is its stump.

Jeremiah 44:26-30

Therefore hear the word of the Lord, all you of Judah who dwell in the land of Egypt: Behold, I have sworn by my great name, says the Lord, that my name shall no more be invoked by the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, ‘As the Lord God lives.’

Behold, I am watching over them for disaster and not for good. All the men of Judah who are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by famine, until there is an end of them.

And those who escape the sword shall return from the land of Egypt to the land of Judah, few in number; and all the remnant of Judah, who came to the land of Egypt to live, shall know whose word will stand, mine or theirs.

This shall be the sign to you, declares the Lord, that I will punish you in this place, in order that you may know that my words will surely stand against you for harm:

Thus says the Lord, Behold, I will give Pharaoh Hophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies and into the hand of those who seek his life, as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, who was his enemy and sought his life.”

White – Fundamental problem with Zahnd’s presentation. Biblical downgrade.

With regard to Zahnd’s “biblical downgrade” (White above), I now turn to Chris Rosebrough’s Lutheran teaching on Law and Gospel. Towards the end of the interview:

Interviewer – There is obviously no doubt that people will continue to object [to the Lutheran view of Law and Gospel]. They will say there are other ways to read the bible…What’s your response?

The Lutheran view of Law and Gospel, in a nutshell, is that it is grace that saves, not works, but works is the natural fruit of faith, and only in that sense, can we speak of works being “necessary” – like breathing is to life. This is the Calvinist view as well.

Rosebrough – My question would immediately be, “Why are you trying somehow to make space for a way of reading scripture that scripture does not give us to read it? The idea here is that if I am reading scripture the way scripture tells me to read scripture…yeah there are tons of different interpretations, and that’s the postmodernism we live in. There’s a Marxist way, a feminist way, etc. of reading scripture. We are approaching scripture with our own lenses, yet scripture is itself giving us the interpretive keys and lens to rightly understand God’s word. Why are you trying to add to this…[by saying] we’ve got these other interpretive lenses as well. No, no, no, no. Be satisfied with what we have received. And that’s the wonderful thing about this; the law-gospel distinctive is something we actually received from God in his word. All these other interpretative schemes, many of them are mixed with philosophy and man-mixed opinions…Why would I want to change or add to it? I’m just a creature…Why should I have so much hubris to think that I have a better way of understanding God’s word than God’s word tells me to understand it?

Interviewer – If someone says “Look, I’m going to study and preach holy scripture, but I’m going to try and find a different way to law and gospel, or maybe invent a new one, or I’m going to try and come out completely with a tabula rasa [clean slate, open mind]. I’m not going to allow any of the preconceptions influence how I read the bible. What are they going to find? What will the Bible be to them?

Rosebrough – At that point you are going to start erroring in wrongly understanding how to use the law, and at that point the Bible will turn into Aesop’s fables, stories with moral imperatives… Like David, you slay your own Goliaths… The Bible becomes a handbook for right living. At that point you end up losing the Gospel….When you make that switch, think of the railroads… down the line there are tracks that have been switched, the destination changes. And so you might be travelling along a particular stretch of track and not notice anything significantly different, but keep travelling down that track, you’re going to find yourself on a different set of tracks altogether, at end up at a completely different destination.

And that’s exactly what Zahn, and his ilk, I suggest, are doing.

Shabir Ally versus James White: God is not a man

A year ago, Shabir Ally and James White debated the topic Did the original Disciples of Jesus consider him God?

One of Ally’s arguments was that Numbers 23:19 says that “God is not a man.” He repeated this snippet on several occasions. White rebutted that when God took on a human nature in the person of the Son, He did not cease to be God and so even though he took on human nature, he remains God. Ally, like all Muslims, regards the divine nature of God in three divine persons like something being both a square and a circle.

White also said, in passing, that Numbers 23:19 says “God is not a man that he should lie.” He could have spent a little more time on the connection between “God is not a man” and the bit Ally omitted – “that he should lie.”

The complete verse runs:

God is not a man, that he should lie,
or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

Jews argue like Ally. On several occasions, I’ve responded to my Jewish kith that the conjunction “that,” which connects 1. “God is not man,” to 2. “he should lie” means that whereas man is (by nature) a liar, God is not. Numbers 23;19 has nothing to do with the nature of God’s being, namely, whether he has a divine or a human nature, or both. Therefore, it’s illegitimate to chop the verse into two chunks and present them as two separate arguments. It’s a bit like slicing up Raphael – the Ninja turtle – and ending up with Picasso.

“[God’s] mind and counsel is one; one and the same, ‘yesterday, to-day, and for ever.’ Therefore the apostle speaks of God, that there is no shadow of change or turning in him, James i. 17. He is not a man that he should lie, neither the son of man that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it?’ Numb. xxiii. 19. And shall he decree, and not execute it? Shall he purpose, and not perform it? ‘I am the Lord, I change not;’ that is his name, Mal. iii. 6. ‘The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations,’ Psal. xxxiii. 1]. Men change their mind oftener than their garments. Poor vain man, even in his best estate, is changeableness, and vicissitude itself, altogether vanity! And this ariseth, partly from the imperfection of his understanding, and his ignorance, because he does not understand what may fall out. There are many things secret and hidden, which if he discovered, he would not be of that judgment; and many things may fall out which may give ground of another resolution: and partly from the weakness and perverseness of his will, that cannot be constant in any good thing, and is not so closely united to it, as that no fear or terror can separate from it. But there is no such imperfection in him, neither ignorance nor weakness. ‘All things are naked’ before him; all their natures, their circumstances, all events, all emergencies, known to him are they, and ‘all his works from the beginning,’ as perfectly as in the end. And therefore he may come to a fixed resolution from all eternity; and being resolved, he can see no reason of change, because there can nothing appear after, which he did not perfectly discover from the beginning. Therefore, whenever ye read in the Scripture of the Lord’s repenting – as Gen. vi. 7. Jer. xviii. 8. – ye should remember that the Lord speaks in our terms, and, like nurses with their children, uses our own dialect, to point out to us our great ignorance of his majesty, that cannot conceive more honourably of him, nor more distinctly of ourselves. When he changeth all things about him, he is not changed, for all these changes were at once in his mind; but when he changeth his outward dispensations, he is said to repent of what he is doing, because we use not to change our manner of dealing, without some conceived grief, or repentance and change of mind.”

(Hugh Binning – The Common Principles of the Christian Religion – Lecture 14).

 

 

 

How do you say that in Hebrew like a Hebrew?

Chave a chappy Hanuka

One of things I like about Chris Rosebrough, besides his hilarious biting critiques of “Believe in your vision” preachers is that he pronounces Hebrew like a Hebrew. For example, English mother-tongue speakers, including rabbis, pronounce the Hebrew “ch/kh” consonant (Scottish “ch” as in Loch) as an “h”. So “Chanukah” is wrongly pronounced Hanuka and “Chesed” ( lovingkindness) is wrongly pronounced as “hesed.” How charming it is to hear Rosebrough say “chesed.” Chave a chappy Hanuka.

OneDaring Jew

When I was a French teacher in the 1970s at the Catholic St George’s College in Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe), my pupils were very bad at French pronunciation. For example, Bonjour Monsieur became either “Bonjews MooseEar,” or “Bonjewer Monsewer.” No surprises there; most English-speaking learners of foreign languages are linguistic klutzes. When, though, I find pronunciation on a par with my French pupils on the BlueletterBible site – this time, Hebrew – I get a little more critical. I often consult the BlueletterBible site for the Hebrew and Greek of the biblical text. I was reading Ex. 31:15a about the sabbath rest, the shabbat shabbaton.Six days may work be done; but in the seventh [is] the sabbath of rest (Hebrew – shabbat shabbaton), holy to the LORD” (Exodus 31:15a).שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים יֵעָשֶׂה מְלָאכָה וּבַיֹּום הַשְּׁבִיעִי שַׁבַּת שַׁבָּתֹון קֹדֶשׁ לַיהוָה שבת shabbath שבתון shabbaton –…

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Should Christians dance wherever they may be? In church? At all?

The song “Lord of the dance” Is very popular in many modern churches. Here are the first three verses – the second verse is the chorus.

I danced in the morning when the world was young

I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun

I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth

At Bethlehem I had my birth

Dance, dance, wherever you may be

I am the lord of the dance, said he

And I lead you all, wherever you may be

And I lead you all in the dance, said he

I danced for the scribes and the Pharisees

They wouldn’t dance, they wouldn’t follow me

I danced for the fishermen James and John

They came with me so the dance went on

Here is the verse on the crucifixion:

I danced on a Friday when the world turned black

It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back

They buried my body, they thought I was gone

But I am the dance, and the dance goes on

The question I look at here is: Does dancing bring a Christian closer to God? I present several views on the dance from different movements – Protestant, Roman Catholic, Greek antiquity, Hindu and Atheist.

One Arminian (anti-Calvinist) view (See here for the definition of an “Arminian)

In “Old debate, New day” Austin Fischer and Brian Zahnd, two anti-Calvinists opposed two “New Calvinists.” In Fischer and Zahnd’s opening statement, Fischer said that Christianity is like a beautiful dance.

In his “Dancing, Arson, and a Plain Reading of Scripture: Brian Zahnd and Austin Fischer Debate Two New Calvinists in Chicago,” the writer praises Zahnd’s “killer metaphor” of the dance:

The second killer metaphor in this debate was utilized by Brian Zahnd. Zahnd is no novice at debate and as a veteran preacher his rhetorical skills are masterful. With one metaphor he shifted the imaginations of listeners and buried the New Calvinists beneath a conceptual mountain they could not uphold. In reference to the redemptive work of God, Zahnd compared God’s electing call to a dance. “Anything but dancing!!” cried the Baptists. But Zahnd wouldn’t let up. He compared the New Calvinists’ monergistic view to a sad image of God dancing “forlornly” with a mannequin. It will be difficult for anyone who watches this debate to remove that image from their imaginations. Here, Zahnd borrows from some excellent and ancient theology. The image of God dancing harkens to mind the doctrine of perichoresis: the inter-penetration of the Persons of the Godhead. This is pictured as a dance into which humanity is invited to join. But if the New Calvinists’ monergism is correct, then God has elected to dance with a mannequin: the inanimate figures who only resemble responsible persons. What a devastating picture! The New Calvinists never recovered.”

(Perichoresis – From Latin chorus “a dance in a circle, the persons singing and dancing, the chorus of a tragedy,” from Greek khoros “band of dancers or singers, dance, dancing ground,” perhaps from PIE *gher- “to grasp, enclose,” if the original sense of the Greek word is “enclosed dancing floor.” Extension from dance to voice is because Attic drama arose from tales inserted in the intervals of the dance. In Attic tragedy, the khoros (of 12 or 15 (tragic) or 24 (comedic) persons) gave expression, between the acts, to the moral and religious sentiments evoked by the actions of the play. When a Poet wished to bring out a piece, he asked a Chorus from the Archon, and the expenses, being great, were defrayed by some rich citizen (the khoregos): it was furnished by the Tribe and trained originally by the Poet himself” [Liddell & Scott]. Originally in English used in theatrical sense; meaning of “a choir” first attested 1650s. Meaning “the refrain of a song” (which the audience joins in singing). (Online etymological dictionary).

For Fischer and Zahnd, these New Calvinists were found not only out of touch and superceded but naked. The Newd Calvinists.

A second Arminian view

In his “Shall we dance,” Bruce Roffrey writes:

Abram and Sarai, later to be called Abraham and Sarah, had that happen. One day God said, Shall we dance? And they said, “Yes”, and their lives were never the same. Their family was never the same because a new beginning happened, a new family was founded. And the world was never the same for through this family came blessing. It was a new creation for humanity. Shall we dance? … At creation the Spirit danced over the waters and brought forth life, and God invites us to become part of that cosmic dance. The dance is our journey, a journey of uncertain destination with incomplete directions, no map, only melody and movement, no marching bands, only the music of two lovers, you in God’s arms, heart to heart as God leads you in that dynamic, ever-changing movement of the dance of life.

But why would God want to dance with me?” you might ask. What would lead God to that invitation? Hasn’t God got bigger and better things to do? Why would God want such an intimate, close relationship?… “When I look at thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast established; what are we that you are mindful of us and that you care for us?” (Psalm 8:3-4). Who am I that God is not just mindful of me, but approaches me and asks, “Shall we dance?” The scriptural story moving from the grand, large, all-encompassing primeval myths of creation to the smaller, individual, focused story of Abram and Sarai tells us that this is the way life is and the way God is. God has bigger things to do, but nothing better. There is nothing better that overrides God’s focus on you, nothing that overrides God’s desire to dance with you.”

Why God chose Abram and Sarai to begin with we don’t know. Why did, why does God choose you? We celebrate. It’s awesome. Perhaps it is as God told Moses, I chose Israel because you were the least. There is a soft spot in God’s heart for the wallflower. It keeps us aware of who asks and who responds, who leads and who follows. God sings, Dance with me, I want to be your partner Can’t you see the music is just starting, Night is falling, and I am calling Dance with me. Shall we dance?”

Roffrey is quoting “Dance With Me,” the title of a 1975 hit single by American soft rock band Orleans. Written by group member John Hall and lyricist Johanna Hall (then a married couple), The single was introduced on the album Let There Be Music from which it was issued as the second single on July 19, 1975. “Dance With Me” became the first single by Orleans to reach the Top 40 rising as high as #6 on Billboard’s Hot 100. (Wikipedia).

The Roman Catholic view

I describe two views. I say The Roman Catholic view because I believe that the descriptions of the following two Roman Catholics are not only very similar to each other, but also represent the general Roman Catholic “mystical” view.

Roman Catholic view 1 – Louis-Albert Lassus (Order of Preachers – Dominican priest)

In “In search of French past (7): the hermit, the poet and the clown,” I wrote about my travels with my Dominican priest friend, Louis-Albert Lassus, who wrote about a dozen books, most of them on the hermitic life. The frontispiece of Louis-Albert’s “La prière est une fête “Prayer is a celebration” contains these words: “I only believe in a God who knows how to dance.” The author of these words is Friedrich Nietzsche; from his “Thus spake Zarathustra.” Here is Zarathustra in his Second Dance with Life. Both Life and Zarathustra were free of the prison of good and evil; they had risen above good and evil.”Oh, see me lying, thou arrogant one, and imploring grace; Gladly would I walk with thee-in some lovelier place! -In the paths O love, through bushes variegated, quiet, trim! Or there along the lake, where gold-fishes dance and swim! … Then did Life answer me thus, and kept thereby her fine ears closed: “O Zarathustra! Crack not so terribly with thy whip! Thou knowest surely that noise killeth thought, and just now there came to me such delicate thoughts. We are both of us genuine ne’er-do-wells and ne’er-do-ills. Beyond good and evil found we our island and our green meadow-we two alone! Therefore must we be friendly to each other!”

(Zarathustra “The second dance song”).

Nietzsche dances to the glory of the Beyond – beyond good and evil. Nietzsche’s dance is not the all good “God-Dance” of Louis-Albert, who is (as Plato said) the Good itself.

In the introduction to his “Prayer is a celebration,” Louis-Albert takes King David’s wife to task for mocking David for dancing half naked in the street: “As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart” (2 Samuel 6:16).

Michal ticked David off for his lack of decorum. She was acting like Protestant prude; a party-pooper. Here is Alexander Balmain Bruce, in “The Training of the Twelve,” (1877).

“He (David) had loved God in a manner which exposed him to the charge of extravagance. He had danced before the Lord, for example, when the ark was brought up from the house of Obededom to Jerusalem, forgetful of his dignity, exceeding the bounds of decorum, and, as it might seem, without excuse, as a much less hearty demonstration would have served the purpose of a religious solemnity.”

Louis-Albert writes that after the Fall (of Adam), blindness descended on humanity. When Christ came (I quote Louis-Albert), “the God-man (Dieu-homme), the God-Dance (Dieu-Dance) invited men and women to recover their sight, to tear off their ridiculous loincloths to tear off those opaque veils, which since Eden has hidden the light of things.” Tear off their loincloths? Like a biblical Zorba ripping off his frontispiece (ephod), letting it all hang – spiritly – out?

I initially found it odd that Louis-Albert chose Nietzsche, the most virulent Christ-hater of them all, to grace the frontispiece of his La prière est une fête “Prayer is a celebration. I thought that Louis-Albert, like all educated Frenchmen, was aware of Nietzsche’s hatred of Christianity. So, why does Louis-Albert give Nietzsche the limelight, never mind the light of day, in the frontispiece of his book about the celebration of prayer. Because he does believe in God, but only if he dances.

Here is more of Nietzsche’s passionate genius (in his “Birth of Tragedy”).

Lift up your hearts, my brothers, high, higher! And for my sake don’t forget your legs as well! Raise up your legs, you fine dancers, and better yet, stand on your heads!”… “This crown of the man who laughs, this crown wreathed with roses — I have placed this crown upon myself. I myself declare my laughter holy. Today I found no one else strong enough for that”… “Zarathustra the dancer, Zarathustra the light hearted, who beckons with his wings, a man ready to fly, hailing all birds, prepared and ready, a careless and blessed man.”… If someone were to transform Beethoven’s Ode to Joy into a painting and not restrain his imagination when millions of people sink dramatically into the dust, then we could come close to the Dionysian. Now the slave a free man; now all the stiff, hostile barriers break apart, those things which necessity and arbitrary power or “saucy fashion” have established between men. Now, with the gospel of world harmony, every man feels himself not only united with his neighbour, reconciled and fused together, but also as one with him, as if the veil of Maja had been ripped apart, with only scraps fluttering around in the face of the mysterious primordial unity. Singing and dancing, man expresses himself as a member of a higher community: he has forgotten how to walk and talk and is on the verge of flying up into the air as he dances. The enchantment speaks out in his gestures. Just as the animals now speak and the earth gives milk and honey, so something supernatural also echoes out of him: he feels himself a god; he himself now moves in as lofty and ecstatic a way as he saw the gods move in his dream. The man is no longer an artist; he has become a work of art: the artistic power of all of nature, to the highest rhapsodic satisfaction of the primordial unity, reveals itself here in the transports of intoxication. The finest clay, the most expensive marble — man — is here worked and chiseled, and the cry of the Eleusinian mysteries rings out to the chisel blows of the Dionysian world artist: “Do you fall down, you millions? World, do you have a sense of your creator?”

In the Dionysian dithyramb man is aroused to the highest intensity of all his symbolic capabilities; something never felt forces itself into expression, the destruction of the veil of Maja, the sense of oneness as the presiding genius of form, in fact, of nature itself. Now the essence of nature is to express itself symbolically; a new world of symbols is necessary, the entire symbolism of the body, not just the symbolism of the mouth, of the face, and of the words, but the full gestures of the dance, all the limbs moving to the rhythm. And then the other symbolic powers grow, those of the music, in rhythm, dynamics, and harmony — with sudden violence… We must always remind ourselves that the public for Attic tragedy rediscovered itself in the chorus of the orchestra, that basically there was no opposition between the public and the chorus: for everything is only a huge sublime chorus of dancing and singing satyrs or of those people who permit themselves to be represented by these satyrs.”

Nietzsche said above, “I only believe in a God who knows how to dance.” Recall Louis-Albert’s “When Christ came, “the God-man (Dieu-homme), the God-Dance (Dieu-Dance) invited men and women to recover their sight. Louis-Albert believes in the God-Dance and Nietzsche believes in a god who can dance. The theological problem is that Louis-Albert’s God-Dance is Christ whereas Nietzsche’s God-Dance transcends Christ, abhors Christ; transcends good and evil – a very gnostic/buddhist notion. It seems that for Louis-Albert the unifying principle of humanity is a belief in the God of the Dance. Actually what unifies man is sin; the only thing that can save him is not the God of the dance, but the Man of sorrows. But who will believe this message?

Isaiah 53 – 1. Who has believed our message? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? 2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he has no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Roman Catholic view 2 – “The Trinity, communion and dance” (Keith A. Fournier).

[My comments in square brackets].

Coming to understand the Trinity is an eternal invitation, but beginning to comprehend the implications of this truth of revelation leads us on the road to coming to understand another vital theological truth, the meaning of the word communion. This deep theological concept called Communion also lies at the heart of coming to grasp the mystery of the Church. In fact, it is the path to understanding the very meaning of human existence itself. We are invited, through Jesus Christ, to live in the Trinity and the Trinity in us this is the theology of communion. It begins with the profound insight that within God there is a community, a family of Divine Persons whose perfect love is perfect unity! Understandably, such a concept is not easily expressed with the limitations of our language. In reflecting on this intra-Trinitarian (within the Trinity) relationship of perfect love and perfect unity between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the great writers of Eastern Christianity referred to the dynamic nature of this relationship with a Greek word perichoresis. This word has no literal English translation. Perhaps the best colloquial or popular rendering would be dance. (Peri around; Chorea dance; Perichorea – To dance around….) Perichoresis is the Divine Dance of perfect love occurring eternally between the Persons of the Trinity!”

This concept is also hard for many Westerners to grasp. This is particularly true or those who have been influenced by what I call disincarnated views of the human person that all too often present living a life of faith as though it means having no fun, celebration or enjoyment in life. In this kind of narrow understanding of Christianity, dance or many other human joys that are experienced bodily, are considered carnal and therefore evil. How sad. In fact, it is worse than sad. It misses another profound claim of Christian faith that the body is more than a carrying case. We are our bodies. The Christian faith proclaims boldly that we who believe in Jesus Christ and are baptized into new life in Him will be resurrected, bodily! Nothing could be further from the revelation of relationship found in the great spiritual writers and mystics of the Christian tradition than a kind of disincarnated bodiless Christianity. Dance is a dynamic way of expressing a relationship between persons. The spiritual life is like a dance! In fact, this dance of self giving love is already underway within the inner life of God. This is the Trinity. We are invited to the celebration!”

To follow Fournier’s thread: communion – the Trinity – dynamic relationship – Greek idea of perichoresis (divine dance of perfect love) – antithesis of Western idea [Western Christian, I assume], which is disincarnated, body is evil, no fun, no celebration, no enjoyment, narrow. The body is key [as Mr Bean said: “My bodeee is my tooooool].

By “Western (Christian) idea,” Fournier can’t mean the Roman Catholic church, which is heavily into the heavenly blessings of sensual enjoyment. Raise our glasses:

Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,

there’s dancing, laughter & good red wine;

at least I have always found it so,

Benedicamus Domino!

(Hilaire Belloc).

Fournier is probably alluding to the Church’s “separated brethren” (Rome’s moniker for Protestants).

Most Roman Catholics would not go so far as to say – as does the Jesuit evolutionist, Teilhard de Chardin – that matter, the clay of creation, is divine, is spirit in progress:

“Blessed be you, universal matter, immeasurable time, boundless ether, triple abyss of stars and atoms and generations: you who by overflowing and dissolving our narrow standards or measurement reveal to us the dimensions of God… I acclaim you as the divine milieu, charged with creative power, as the ocean stirred by the Spirit, as the clay molded and infused with life by the incarnate Word.”

(Teilhard de Chardin, “Hymn of the Universe,” Chapter 3 ”The spiritual power of matter.”)

Although the following quotation on “the dance” between matter and spirit is not from Chardin, it sings from the same hymnal, indeed, it reminds me of Fournier and the mystical view in general, whether Roman Catholic, Eastern Church or Eastern religions (Buddhism and Hinduism):

[M]athematical functions model the way energy flows between two dimensions, how energy is transformed between the timeless frequency domain of psyche and the material universe of space-time. The classical school of Indian philosophy, Samkhya, is founded upon the same hypothesis, that all reality consists of the dance and relationship between the two domains of prakrtti and purusha, Sanskrit for what have been translated as “matter” and “spirit”, but could likely be more accurately translated to correspond with the time domain (td) and the frequency domain (fd).

(Psychophysics of the Noosphere: Teilhard de Chardin and the EMF Field Theory of Consciousness).

Many attribute the line “Learn to dance, so when you get to heaven the angels know what to do with you.” (Type the line into a search engine). The beastly thing; I can’t find the source anywhere. Such words seem highly inappropriate for Augustine. Surely it is at best trivial, at worst, drivel.

The following is what one writer says Augustine said about dance. The writer’s topic is “Eternal punishment in the City of God.”

“Not having grasped his understanding of “Incarnation”, but based on the reasoning exhibited in this book, I do not see how he can do justice to the idea that God became Flesh and dwelt amongst us. Such deficiencies are all the more incredible in the light of other of his insights. In his beautiful “In praise of the Dance” he states: ‘I praise the dance, for it frees people from the heaviness of matter and binds the isolated to community. I praise the dance, which demands everything: health and a clear spirit and a buoyant soul. Dance is a transformation of space, of time, of people, who are in constant danger of becoming all brain, will, or feeling.’ Even in this beauty, we see a deep suspicion of the material realm. But we would hope that he takes his own words to heart, about the dangers of being all brain and will.”

The first line of Augustine’s (?) poem: “I praise the dance, for it frees people from the heaviness of matter…” So many cares and worries would vanish; if only I could shuck off this mortal coil. Best of all, there would be no more death – and no more dying, which is worse. “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Paul in Romans 7:24). Best of all, that is, if you don’t end up in hell.

The purported extract of a poem of Augustine is definitely not in the City of God, or anywhere else in Augustine that I can find. What is more, how can I believe anything this person says about Augustine when he describes Augustine’s view of Grace – coupling him, unwittingly, with Pelagius, Augustine’s bugbear. To wit: “The key question that hangs over Augustine’s view of salvation is that of Grace. When it is mentioned, it is usually seen as a reward for those who believe correctly. Grace is for the regenerate, effective at some future date, and punishment for all others.” No, no. Here is Augustine on grace that Pelagius despised: “Grant what you command and command what you desire.”

(See “Grant what you command, and command what you desire: Pelagius, the Jew and Augustine.”)

Here is more on “Augustine’s” poem above. An enquirer on “Yahoo Answers” asks: “Help please with a poem/quote – Augustine or Goetsch? I found the following poem on-line and unattributed, which I found matched my own sentiment and the last line made me smile:

‘I praise the dance, for it frees people from the heaviness of matter and binds the isolated to community. I praise the dance, which demands everything: health and a clear spirit and a buoyant soul. Dance is a transformation of space, of time, of people, who are in constant danger of becoming all brain, will, or feeling. Dancing demands a whole person, one who is firmly anchored in the centre of his life, who is not obsessed by lust for people and things and the demon of isolation in his own ego. Dancing demands a freed person, one who vibrates with the equipoise of all his powers. I praise the dance. O man, learn to dance, or else the angels in heaven will not know what to do with you.’

Presumably, continues the enquirer, written by a spiritual new-age type, I did a google search and kept getting the answer – St. Augustine of Hippo (d.430 AD). Now this surprised me, as the words and sentiments hardly sound contemporary to 5th Century Christianity. I also found it suspicious that despite the constant attribution to St. Augustine, nobody ever referenced which piece of his works the poem appeared in. also found out that St. Augustine, in a known work of his, wrote that dance was a waste of time, and good Christians were better employed in using their energy to work – a sentiment that later church officials often repeated. In addition, the whole known works of St. Augustine’s have been placed on computer, and neither the poem, nor any separate sentence from it, has been found within them. Eventually I found variants of the lines, written in German, attributed to George Goetsch, apparently appearing in a book “Alte Kontra-tanze” (Old Contra-dances) which he co-authored with Rolf Gardiner in 1928. I have been unable to source the original book, so I do not know if the words are the author’s own creation, or whether they are quotes from someone else.”

Does anyone know this poem, and whether Goetsch wrote it? Goetsch and Gardiner were both into spirituality, but were also early supporters of social nationalism. If written by Goetsch I can imagine someone liking the poem but not the politics of the writer, and so detached the author from it, and either then falsely attributed it to a Christian Saint, or someone did so later. Any information on Goetsch and Gardiner would also be appreciated, but I’m really after tracking down the original poem.”

Greek antiquity

In Greek religion, the three graces (Greek charites) were three beautiful goddesses of Joy, Charm and Beauty, daughters of Zeus, the King of the gods, and the Oceanid Eurynome.

Pindar, the Greek poet, wrote that these goddesses were created to fill the world with pleasantness and goodwill. The Graces attended Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of Beauty, and her lover Eros. The Graces, together with the Nymphs and the Muses, danced in a circle to Apollo’s divine music.

Boticelli - The three graces

Boticelli – The three graces

Hinduism

The Nataraja sculpture is a mystical portrayal of the Hindu god of the dance – Shiva.

The significance of the Nataraja (Nataraj) sculpture is said to be that Shiva is shown as the source of all movement with the Lord of the cosmos, represented by the arch of flames. The purpose of the dance is to release men from illusion of the idea of the “self” and of the physical world. The cosmic dance was performed in Chidambaram in South India, called the center of the universe by some Hindus. The gestures of the dance represent Shiva’s five activities, creation (symbolized by the

lord of the dancedrum), protection (by the “fear not” hand gesture), destruction (by the fire), embodiment (by the foot planted on the ground), and release (by the foot held aloft). As Nataraja (Sanskrit: Lord of Dance) Shiva represents apocalypse and creation as he dances away the illusory world of Maya transforming it into power and enlightenment. The symbolism of Siva Nataraja is religion, art and science merged as one. In God’s endless dance of creation, preservation, destruction, and paired graces is hidden a deep understanding of our universe.”

Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk, said “I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.” Buddhism is a Hindu heresy. Not, however, when it comes to the dance, for there seems to be much in the above description that sits well with Buddhism.

James White (Dividing line, October 23, 2014) in his critique of the “God of the dance” idea among some Calvinists is that they bought into this “God invites us to the dance” garbage. I call it garbage, I know what it’s meant to say, but the only way this topic is ever going to be meaningfully addressed is when we stay within the realm of sola scriptura. Once we start dancing around outside painting pretty sunsets, the chances of it actually answering these questions pretty much disappears.” I am reminded of someone telling me of a sermon she heard at her church where the preacher said that every word in the Bible is from God – tota scriptura. That’s nice. And sola scriptura – scripture alone? I know the preacher very well, and he does not believe in sola scriptura; he is a “Word of Faith” person (Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland), who believes in extra-biblical revelation.

Sola scriptura, yes, that’s good.. But what would James White make of Psalm 150:4 “Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.” John Pulsford writes about this verse:”Man, the last in creation, but the first in song, knows not how to contain himself. He dances, he sings, he commands all the heavens, with all their angels, to help him, “beasts and all cattle, creeping things and flying fowl” must do likewise, even “dragons” must not be silent, and “all deeps” must yield contributions. He presses even dead things into his service, timbrels, trumpets, harps, organs, cymbals, high sounding cymbals, if by any means, and by all means, he may give utterance to his love and joy” (Charles’ Spurgeon’s “Treasury of David”).

Then, alas, this damp squib – from a Protestant, naturally:

“The dance was in early times one of the modes of expressing religious joy (Ex 15:20 6:16). When from any cause men’s ideas shall undergo such a revolution as to lead them to do the same thing for the same purpose, it will be time enough to discuss that matter. In our time, dancing has no such use, and cannot, therefore, in any wise be justified by pleading the practice of pious Jews of old.” (William Swan Plumer on Psalm 150 in Spurgeon’s “Treasury of David.”

So then, to answer my question: Does dancing bring a Christian closer to God? Dance with your body, if you want, but most of all, if you want to dance – do so in your soul. What should matter more to the believer in Christ is: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8) and “somebody who worships in the Spirit of God, rejoices in Christ Jesus and puts no confidence in the flesh (Phil. 3:3)” (John MacArthur).

For fear of the Jews: Closet Jews for Jesus

In Spain, many Jews “converted” under pressure to Roman Catholicism but retained their faith and practice in secret. Similarly, when the Muslims conquered Christian countries, many Christians who had “converted” to Islam continued to practice in secret. In modern times, there are Muslims in Muslim-controlled areas, Hindus in India, and Jews in Israel who continue this multiple loyalties tradition. These Insider movements have received much criticism lately. See http://veritasdomain.wordpress.com/2014/10/16/faulty-ecclesiology-in-two-insider-movement-case-studies/

Here is an excerpt from Philip Jenkins’ excellent “The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia–and How It Died.” http://www.amazon.com/Lost-History-Christianity-Thousand-Year-Asia/dp/

“Often, such multiple loyalty made
good practical sense for communities that remembered just
how often borders changed and territories changed hands. In
the case of the Balkans, these hopes would be justified in the
long term, although the time span would be several
centuries. Cyprus’s Linovamvakoi had to maintain their
disguise from the 1570’s to the 1870’s.”

“The churches responded ambiguously to such clandestine
practice, and some authorities pointed to the stern New
Testament passages demanding the open proclamation of
faith, at whatever cost. As Jesus warned, anyone who failed
to acknowledge him in this world could expect no
recognition on the Day of Judgment. Yet as ever more
Christians fell under Muslim authority, the desperate
situation demanded accommodation. As early as the 13305,
the patriarch of Constantinople unofficially sanctioned
“double faith,” promising that the church would work for the
salvation of Anatolian believers who dared not assert their
faith openly for fear of punishment, provided that they tried
to observe Christian laws. After the fall of Crete in the
seventeenth century, the patriarch of Jerusalem similarly
permitted surface conversion to Islam on grounds of
“inescapable need.”5 Generally, Catholic authorities adopted
a much harder line than the Orthodox, presumably because
their hierarchy did not live under Muslim rule, while most of
their Orthodox counterparts did. Nevertheless, throughout
Ottoman times, Catholic clergy ministered to secret
Christian communities in the Balkans.”

With the above in mind, I reblog this post.

OneDaring Jew

There is a discussion at the RoshPinaProject on rabbis who followed Jesus/Yeshua. I paraphrase the conversation:

Matt asked why there wasn’t a single modern-day orthodox rabbi (or as far as he know even liberal rabbi) who has accepted Jesus as the messiah. He also mentioned many modern-day evangelical Christians (including Christian pastors) who have converted to Judaism. Gev replied that the reason was probably because if they came out of the closet, they would get serious grief and probably lose their job. Matt thought that it was absurd that rabbis are not converting today to Jesus because they might lose their “high paying pulpit jobs.” This, Matt, retorted, was a pretty lame reason, because most orthodox rabbis and scholars are not well funded by their congregations or donors, whereas an orthodox rabbi who accepted Jesus as his messiah would soon have access to a nice share of the millions of…

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ISIS, Politics and Islam

In  his “Is ISIS a faith-based terrorist group?” (Colombia Journalism Review), Christopher Massie argues:

The real problem [of ISIS] is that nobody can precisely calculate the aggregation of factors that have produced the modern phenomenon of Islamic extremism. And so the claims of people who cite religious causes cannot be dismissed any more than the claims of people who cite political ones. Hussain is right to caution that “Western society doesn’t have a great familiarity with Muslim culture,” and Nomani is also right to say that “we should cover Islam like we cover a city council meeting,” bearing in mind “political interests” and “ideological interests.”

David Wood, in contrast, argues that the main inspiration behind ISIS is Islam in the Qu’ran and the Hadiths.

Qu’ran

“Jihadists fighting for ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) claim that they are following the commands of Allah and Muhammad. Yet Westernized Muslims, politicians, and the media claim that ISIS is violating the principles of Islam. Who’s right? In the following video, David Wood presents the top ten Quran verses for understanding the beliefs and actions of ISIS.”

Hadiths

Brave new wave: the Bible is about MOI

Much preaching today is “narcigesis” – narcissistic reading into the text. Here is my sermon based on Steven Furtick’s “Brave the waves,” which appeared in Chris Rosebrough’s podcast “Fighting for the faith.” http://www.fightingforthefaith.com/2014/11/its-about-to-break.html

I’m reading to the audience: Mark 4: Jesus Calms a Storm

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.”

Moi – Say “other side.”
Audience – (incoherent buzz ghfb&£;:-, which one would assume is “other side”).

36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.

Moi: All of us have storms in our lives, squalls on the sea. Say “sea.”

Audience: See.

Moi: No, that’s the story of the blind man. “See.”

Audience to a man: I see: “see.”

38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

Moi: Say “be still.”

Audience: “Cork up.”

40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Moi: Who do you think this story is about?

Audience: Moi.

Moi: Let’s pray: Lord, increase my faith. And understanding – of who I AM.