Saturday, June 17, 2017

Those Denying God's Existence Should Forsake His Cash As Well

An article titled “Christian School Teacher Fired After Deciding To Live 2014 As An Atheist” attempts to place the onus for such a state of occupational limbo on organized religion. But isn't it even more the fault of the educator in question for attempting to turn his crisis of faith into some kind of theological publicity stunt?

According to the article, Ryan Bell was a Seventh Day Adventist minister and adjunct professor whose leftwing support of gay marriage and variance with his denomination's eschatology resulted in his resignation from the Hollywood congregation he pastored. He was forced from his teaching positions from Fuller Seminary and Azusa Pacific University when Bell publicly announced his intentions to live as an atheist for a year to see if that particular worldview more accurately reflected his spiritual state where disillusionment caused him to question a number of his most deeply held beliefs.

The press account puts the blame for the hardship Bell would have to endure on these respective institutions of higher education. After all, Bell pointed out in the article, he has utility bills to pay and children to feed.

But shouldn't these employers be applauded for assisting Bell in taking his experiment in atheism to its logical conclusion? For Bell is not a minister in the Unitarian or Episcopal Churches so wishy washy in their core doctrines and beliefs that they are at times willing to keep outright unbelievers on their respective payrolls.

According to the article, Fuller Seminary and Azusa Pacific University both require faculty to adhere to a statement of faith seemingly quite broad in terms of Christian specifics if these institutions of higher education claiming to be Evangelical openly embrace Seventh Day Adventism. What Dr. Bell has said is that, at the time this all came to a head in 2014, he no longer believes the bare bones required by these schools.

As such, if Bell for the time being no longer believes that there is an all powerful being sustaining the universe and providing a means whereby fallen men might be brought back into fellowship with Him, why shouldn't Bell also forfeit the salary provided by those that do believe in such in a context that already doesn't sound all that picky or particular regarding what are commonly referred to as secondary theological matters? After all, when the unbelievers are holding the administrative reigns and catch a whiff of doctrinal content they aren't particularly fond of they aren't exactly all that magnanimous either.

For example, in “Reason In The Balance”, popularizer of Intelligent Design Phillip Johnson chronicled the case of a Biology Professor that suggested that the complexity of even the simplest lifeforms pointed in the direction of a designer. Whom or what that might be was left up for the student to decide as the professor made no suggestions as to whether that designer was God in yonder Heaven or little green men zooming about the cosmos in a flying saucer. For engaging in the free exchange of ideas in an environment supposedly priding itself on such intellectual dynamism, this professor was booted out the door.

Adherents of Intelligent Design have faired little better in other settings. For example, a scientist lost his job at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for simply expressing an interest in Intelligent Design.

Yet that very same facility explicitly stated in its public propaganda how its administrators supposedly appreciate innovative perspectives. Apparently believing that a Higher Power is behind the grandeur of the universe has little to do with building better rockets with the exception, of course, of boosting the esteem of Muslims in regards to that civilization's developments in mathematics from nearly a millennium ago. President Obama was quite explicit in making that an aeronautical agency funding priority despite their being barely a cent available for manned extra-atmospheric travel in the form of a space shuttle or lunar expeditions.

Did the atheists that got all worked up on behalf of Ryan Bell rush to meet the material needs of the occupationally displaced adherents of Intelligent Design or flagellate themselves in shamefacedness over the way the establishment media expects Christians to upon hearing of the hardships caused by the failure to at first compromise and then ultimately set aside these minimal standards derived from a set of very rudimentary beliefs one would think nearly anyone even wanting to be employed in a Christian setting would agree to? After all, it is not like Fuller Seminary these days enforces a no movies under any circumstances rule.

Proponents of the decision to impose penalties upon the bakers refusing to bake cakes for gay weddings insist that we ought to be willing to accept such punishments with little comment as the price for standing for convictions at variance with established social norms. In the case of those professing some manner of public unbelief such as itinerant academic Ryan Bell, this is to be yet another of the expanding network of exceptions and double standards.

by Frederick Meekins

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Cultural Impact Of Worldview & Apologetics, Part 2

Academics get the ball rolling on a more widespread denial or misunderstanding about the divine existence of Jesus by first calling into question and raising doubts about the validity and accuracy of the Biblical accounts pertaining to the life of the Messiah. Often such efforts are commenced under the banner of an epic endeavor such as "The Quest for the Historical Jesus" or "The Jesus Seminar" where professors with impressive scholastic credentials such as John Dominic Crossan claim to be doing the truly devoted a service by scraping away centuries worth of theological barnacles to get at the simple Jesus that existed before the executors of his reputation elevated the compassionate Nazarene handyman to religious superstar status. However, closer examination of the actual historical record reveals scholars advocating such a viewpoint are as mired in fiction and fantasy every bit as much as Dan Brown.

Throughout political and religious history, one of the most time-tested tactics to undermine one's opponent is to attack the credibility of his messengers or heralds. That is why the so-called "cultured despisers of religion" have spent so much of their effort to drag the Bible in general and the Gospels in specific into disrepute. For if one begins to doubt the authenticity of these ancient documents, it is often not long until one begins to question the claims of and about the Savior Himself detailed within those pages.

First and foremost, the apologist must show that the Bible can go toe to toe with what is considered established, factual history. In his essay, Quarles compares the New Testament with the Roman Annals of Tacitus (106). Of this work, Quarles points out no complete sample of the manuscript survived from the time it was written around AD 115 to 117, with only two fragments known to exist and the earliest complete manuscript of the text dating back to the ninth century. Regarding the New Testament, the earliest surviving manuscript, the Vaticanus, is dated at AD 325, several centuries closer to the time of the New Testament Autographs.

However, the superiority of the New Testament as an authentic historical document does not end here. For whereas only two ancient fragments of Tacitus have been discovered, numerous portions and segments of the New Testament have been discovered that are believed to date often just a few decades from the time the originals were believed to have been written.

One could easily conjecture there would have been more of an opportunity to perpetrate some kind of forgery in regards to the writings of Tacitus. Yet we find no clever professor having academic laurels bestowed upon his furrowed brow for bringing into question our entire understanding of the Classical World or Ron Howard producing from such speculation a summer blockbuster bringing in sufficient box office receipts so he can finally afford that realistic toupee or hairweave he has desperately needed for so many years.

More importantly, how many (other than the most enthusiastic of historians) would really have their epistemological and moral worlds shattered if it was eventually discovered that the likes of Tacitus, Julius Casear, or even Plato and Homer were frauds? Thus, the documents of Scripture are not only historically authentic, but so is the account of an individual whose meaning and significance far transcended the ordinary.

The Christian can be assured of this because not only are the Biblical documents historically authentic in terms of their mechanics in how they came down to the contemporary world but also in terms of being reliable in regards to the credibility of the internal content. For example, if the Bible was nothing more than propaganda literature, in all likelihood those compiling the documents would have taken considerable care to downplay the faults of the movement's earliest leaders. However, this clearly did not happen.

In Church History, Christ's handpicked Apostles are considered the closest any human beings can come to epitomizing the ideal qualities of leadership. However, before being imbued with the power of the Holy Spirit, the New Testament is rife with instances where the pillars of the Church were closer to the human rather than ideal side of the lofty concept.

For example, John's mother is depicted as a social climber who wasn't fully aware of what she was getting her sons into when she went right up to Christ demanding that her sons be placed at His right hand in the coming kingdom. And though many view Peter as the unyielding rock upon which Christ built the Church, given his bumbling and cowardly nature, he seems no more competent than any of us and certainly neither a figure militant nor triumphant.

Thus, from such attention to the details that could have easily been brushed over if those penning the New Testament had been out to perpetrate either a religious fraud or to craft an inspirational but still a nevertheless fictional narrative, the believer gains a confidence that the Bible may be just as truthful in regards to its much more majestic claims as well.

Since the Bible itself teems with historical respectability, those serious about considering its claims ought to examine what is said about the text's central character, Jesus Christ. Certain skeptics wanting to pat themselves on the back just how broadminded they can be claim they applaud the so-called "ethics of Jesus", insisting that He was a good man but did not claim to be deity.

However, the Bible tells us otherwise. In Matthew 12:40, Jesus said, "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

And since we have no reason to disbelieve the legitimacy of the account, Jesus did indeed rise from the grave. Secondly, at no time did Jesus condemn those that claimed He was God despite the rigorous monotheism of ancient Judaism. Of special interest to the skeptic will no doubt be Thomas who, like his counterparts in contemporary academia, was reluctant to accept the reality of the risen Jesus without more tangible proof. Upon examining Christ's wounds first hand, Thomas declared in John 20: 28, "My Lord and my God."

In previous eras, such would likely bring us to the end of an evangelistic apologetic discourse since respect for (though perhaps not always adherence to) Scripture was ingrained throughout the culture. However, today there are so many worldview alternatives to select from that the believer must not only state what Lee Strobel has termed "the case for Christ" but also begin to plant the seeds that will assist the seeker to disentangle themselves if they so desire from the webs of deception in which they are entrapped. The Christian cannot assist in this process unless they themselves are familiar with at least the basic tenets of their own faith's most prominent competitors.

By Frederick Meekins

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Cultural Impact Of Worldview & Apologetics, Part 1

Here at the beginning of the twenty-first century, Apologetics as an evangelistic endeavor and intellectual theological outreach finds itself in something of a paradox. When the West thought of itself in terms of resting on broadly Judeo-Christian assumptions, the discipline was not as desperately needed while most within the church at least knew of the field's existence as a subject. At the time, the less practically inclined among the membership dabbled in the subject by contemplating abstract questions and topics. However, as society moves away from Biblical assumptions and the church finds itself in desperate need of the discipline to prevent both individuals and nations from sliding into the abyss, it seems very few even know what Apologetics is and those that do are often contemptuously dismissive of this kind of scholastic undertaking in favor of a more pietistic or even mystical approach to the Christian faith.

In the anthology “Passionate Conviction: Contemporary Discourses On Christian Apologetics”, Paul Copan and William Lane Craig have assembled a number of essays rallying the faithful as to why Apologetics is necessary and tackling head on a number of the greatest challenges to the Christian faith prevalent in the world today.

Renowned futurist Alvin Toffler has remarked that the changes sweeping over society are akin to waves that can be so unsettling that they leave those they have rolled over in a state of shock while leaving those still riding the crests of previous conceptual epochs dumbfounded as to how to address the changing situations around them. Particularly hard hit has been the humanities, of which the areas of study such as philosophy, religion, and thus ultimately apologetics happen to be a part. Unlike previous eras of world history in which the average individual often dealt with a limi

ted space in terms of both mental and physical geography, today even the poorest resident of the twenty-first century West finds himself bombarded constantly with opposing worldviews. These come at us in the forms of an omnipresent media establishment, the swarms of people pouring over our borders from every conceivable corner of the globe, and the shocking number of our own countrymen willing to abandon the worldview this civilization was built upon in favor of any number of alternatives that turn out to be less than solid upon closer inspection.

It is said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. The confusion characterizing the spiritual scene today would not have come about unless there had been a widespread abandonment of what Francis Schaeffer termed the “Christian consensus”, what C.S. Lewis referred to as “Mere Christianity”, and what those wanting to cast the most ecumenical net possible might characterize as the Judeo-Christian belief system. G.K. Chesterton is credited with observing that the problem that arises when we abandon orthodox theology is not that we won’t believe in anything but that we will believe in anything.

The pillar or keystone of Christianity setting it apart from all other religions and philosophies is that Jesus as the only Begotten Son of God and second person of the Trinity came to earth by being born of the Virgin Mary to live the sinless life no man could, to die on the Cross as payment for our sins and to rise from the dead so that all that believe in Him might spend eternity with God in Heaven. This is what is known as the Gospel message.

All excursions into error (no matter how seemingly ancient or modern) begin as either an outright denial of or failure to recognize these fundamental truths. This can be seen in terms of both popular and academic culture.

In terms of his own theory of Apologetics, Ravi Zacharias has postulated that there is a highest refined level of philosophy that eventually filters downward to the general population in the form of mass media and entertainment. This is true of other academic humanities as well and is not a phenomena confined solely to technical philosophy.

The first decade of the twenty-first century, renowned primarily for its advances in electronic entertainment, experienced a publishing phenomena that gripped the public imagination like few things else in the form of a novel titled “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown. Underlying the suspense of this thriller is the conjecture that Jesus was not divinity in human form but rather simply an outstanding human teacher no different than anyone else but elevated to godhood for political purposes at the Council of Nicea.

Provocative as those heresies might be, what really set the book off like wildfire was the assertion that among those otherwise mundane things Jesus did as an ordinary human being was to father a child by Mary Magdalene. It was through this lineage, rather than through any organizational church structure, that true Christian teaching was passed down through history through the intermarriage of Christ's descendants with the royal houses of Europe, especially the Merovingian of France. Of these astounding claims and their alleged justifications, Charles Quarles writes in the essay “Revisionist Views About Jesus” in “Passionate Conviction”, “This fact coupled with the enormous popularity of the book and the film require thoughtful believers to respond intelligently to the claims of the Code (96).”

It seems odd that so many --- both Christian and non-Christian alike --- would allow a popular novel to either so shake their faith or to allow it to justify what they already believe. Quarles writes, “Those whose faith is shaken by Dan Brown’s claims lose their faith far too quickly. If they will take the time to investigate Brown’s claims, they will find that his statements about biblical and historical Christianity are a comedy of errors and lack historical evidence (108).” Thing of it is though, Christianity has been maligned and discredited for so long in the halls of higher learning that the average person thinks such radical skepticism is the default position of the open, educated mind.

By Frederick Meekins

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Leftwing Protests Herald Collectivist Brutality

As those following the news over the past several years are no doubt aware, a leftist protest movement has galvanized under a banner referred to broadly as “Occupy Wall Street” This name was selected almost as an after thought by a coalition of converging groups and causes in order to appeal to the sympathizes of a significant swath of the American population.

For there really aren't many that have not been perturbed at one time or another over the shenanigans of Wall Street. To those on the Left, these often stand out as ostentatious displays of greed. Those on the Right, though having little problem in theory with the accumulation of considerable profit, are as just as much in principle disturbed by the government intervention rushing to prevent economic collapse as a result of imprudence on the part of investors and other fiduciaries carelessly overseeing delicate financial assets.

Because of those assembling under such a banner, a number of the nation's leaders from institutions such as government and media have spoken favorably of these protests. Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi have often assumed a John Belushi “Thank you, sir. May I have another” posture in gratitude for protesters speaking out with such boldness and direct action.

But before Americans that (unlike these protesters) actually work for a living or take an assortment of steps to see that they minimize their dependence upon public assistance march in solidarity as we are told to by revolutionary leftists, perhaps we should take a look at what movements such as Occupy Wall Street actually profess, what kinds of deeds they have committed, and what elites such as Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi endorse by default as a result of their favorable remarks and lack of condemnation.

For example, participants in these sorts of upheavals have, like disgruntled apes in zoos, relieved their bowels in police cruisers. Did President Obama speak out against such outrage?

If not, shouldn't it be construed that he has no problem with such an act? After all, he found it appropriate to interject himself into the misunderstanding between a police officer and a Harvard professor so full of himself that he did not think he had to comply with the lawful orders of law enforcement like a mundane, run of the mill American.

More importantly, if there is nothing inherently wrong about pulling down one's pants and relaxing one's anal sphincter against a police cruiser, then what would be so wrong about perpetrating a similar outrage against a presidential motorcade? After all, are we not acculturated that, in our federal system of government, ideally the local level is just as important as the national and no one person or official more worthy of deference than another?

Another aspect worthy of note is how these leftist elites respond to Occupy-style movements in light of their to the Tea Party movement. One such example is none other than Hag Pelosi.

In one interview, the crone about broke down into tears how the kinds of frustrations vociferously articulated in the earliest days of the Tea Party movement were what led to the violence of the 1960's, especially as epitomized by those carried out in her beloved San Francisco area. President Obama echoed similar sentiments insinuating that Tea Party activists needed to watch what they said in light of the shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords not by a proponent of constitutional government and fiscal responsibility but rather by a psychotic motivated by the occult as evidenced by the Voodoo shrine he erected in his parents' backyard.

But while members of the Tea Party can hardly be linked to any actual incidents of violence and are more likely to have assaults perpetrated upon them as evidence by a Black gentleman beaten to a pulp by union goons for simply attempting to sell “Don't Tread On Me” paraphernalia, those allied with Occupy Wall Street and related upheavals have actually perpetrated outrages that about bring tears to any but the most calloused news hounds.

In Italy, mobs in solidarity with the Occupy Movement desecrated and vandalized religious objects and works of art in a church. Had such an act of deliberate animus taken place on the part of the Tea Party movement at a Jewish synagogue (especially of the liberal variety where those that gather do so more out of a passionate disregard for Christianity rather than out of any affirmative embrace of the revelation of a monotheisitic God to mankind), every news bureau in the country would have a correspondent on the scene with Geraldo especially ripping out his mustache in an act of lamentation.

And in another act of religious hostility occurring on the Italian Peninsula, a protester set ablaze a Bible during a mass conducted by the Pope. Just see what happens to you if a similar act of disrespect is perpetrated to a particular venerated Islamic text. The next video footage of something set on fire is likely to be you.

Did the Obama Administration release any kind of statement condemning such acts of hatred against Christianity? Yet this was the very same regime that propagated the impression that mentioning the terms “Islamic” or “terrorism” to describe the contemporary documented phenomena of violence committed in pursuit of specific theo-political ends is going to spark an epidemic of bias related incidents directed towards Muslims that are in no way participating in this covert yet not so subtle attempt to destroy the Western way of life.

Among crimes, there rank gradations of offense. Since the structures are ingrained culturally into our psyches as places exuding goodness and holiness at least to those that frequent them, most Americans of sound conscience would not think of vandalizing a house of worship even if it was of a tradition other than their own. The only other acts that strike the descent individual as more shocking would probably be assaults of a sexual nature and outright homicide.

It has been said that in the eighteenth century that the Bible was killed, in the nineteenth century that God was killed, and in the twentieth century man was killed. This rhetorical flourish shows how a total disregard for the basic mortality of Scripture leads to a disrespect for God which results in the catastrophic death that results as man perfects his technology but certainly not his morality. Experimental sociologists of the twenty-first century do not necessarily have to waste centuries any more to watch such a process play out. It is unfolding before their very eyes in the form of Occupy Wall Street and derivative protest movements.

Following the shocking vandalism of the Italian churches, participants of the Occupy Movement having expressed such outright contempt for the things of God have expunged themselves of perhaps the greatest hurdle up until now preventing them from afflicting similar atrocities upon their fellow human beings. Perhaps the likes of Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi would care to comment on any number of these since they certainly don't mind foaming at the mouth at the alleged behavioral shortcomings of the Tea Party Movement.

For example, in a number of Occupy “shanty towns” and indigent enclaves, a number of women have been sexually assaulted and even raped. It was been reported that one of these victims was a 14 year old and, another , a woman with cognitive disabilities.

At one Occupy demonstration, a tent for women only had to be established in order to provide a sense of comfort to women reluctant to sleep amidst a group of men whose appearances alone often reveal a lack of discipline and self control. However, given the nature of the mob mentality, is a sign reading “Women Only” going to dissuade a bunch of lust-filled hooligans when they don't have much respect for law, rules, and basic human decorum to begin with?

Even when such unconscionable acts occur, often it is the preference of Occupy organizers that such infractions be settled within the confines of the demonstrating collective. After all, when these beatniks believe we are nothing more than animals to begin with, such assaults really aren't that evil after all. Categorizing such acts in that manner is a manifestation of the bourgeois notions of the uptight and sexually repressed.

Perhaps it is this notion that the likes of Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi embrace so heartily. That notion is of course that the laws that govern we mere common mortals should not be used to bind those consciences and minds so revolutionary that, as Hegel taught, they are already attuned to the new epoch unfolding before us.

For example, among those thinking that the sexual predators within the ranks of the Occupy Movement should not be remanded to bourgeois justice are those probably insisting that Herman Cain be placed on some kind of offender registry for commenting that one woman was about his wife's height and for requesting another to doctor his tea.

Throughout history, though many revolutions start out galvanized around a noble principle, eventually since they do not yield to the laws of God nor respect the rights of those that disagree with their conclusions, end up in violence and eventually loss of life. As has been seen in terms of the desecrated church and sexual molestations, this movement has already tottered over the edge into violence. The discerning and concerned must ask how long until the loss of innocent life?

Already a number of Occupy participants have succumbed to overdoses on pharmaceutical compounds. Proponents of the Occupy Movement will respond that this was the result of the deceased individual's own hand.

Fair enough. One only need glance at the vast numbers of Occupy participants for no more than fifteen seconds to tell that these types aren't exactly renowned for pursuing lives of ascetic self-control and mortification of the flesh.

However, incidents have occurred that could lead one to conclude that the Occupy Movement could turn violent or even homicidal at the drip of a pin. Or perhaps, in this case, rather a pen.

For just such a writing implement was plunged into the neck of one particular broadcast journalist covering one of these activist enclaves. One supposes it only logical that the proper use of such communication technology no doubt evades those unable to master the techniques necessary to aim their respective digestive effluents into the designated sewage receptacles.

Often the mouthpieces of these uprising throngs claim that their goals are of a nonviolent nature. Yet these malcontents then proceed to smash windows, flip over automobiles, and now desecrate religious objects.

To the average person not educated beyond the point of usefulness, such acts embody the notion of violence. However, to such leftists that have conscientiously abandoned established moral norms, such acts are not construed as violent.

To them, such an ethical appellation only applies if forceful actions are directed towards particular types of human beings. But among the first steps of systematic demhumanization is to either take away the property of your political opponents or to exhibit some kind of overwhelming disrespect towards it.

For example, bricks through windows and setting trashcans afire is a favorite tactic of this kind of movement in its early stages. As such acts become second nature to the perpetrators, they may even move to even more shocking acts of vandalism such as the painting of yellow stars on the property of those belonging to a particular ethno-religious category.

After what might even include a little nocturnal breaking of the glass, the shock troops of the New World Order are well on their way to eroding what little remains of the human conscience to allow not only for the destruction of the things owned by the despised demographic (be they Jews, Christians, property owners or even those driving automobiles deemed too luxurious by the proponents of anarchistic collectivism) but the snuffing out as well of the very lives of those deemed a hindrance to progress and the next stage of social development.

Already the mental and philosophical preparation is being put into place to ratchet things up to the next level. Even the godless amoralitsts need to be conditioned for the pending taking of human life.

In a story posted at the Blaze.com titled, “Anti-Capitalist Teach-In Leader: 'We Have People Organizing Inside The Military”, a member of the Progressive Labor Party boasted that he and his comrades are infiltrating the military, college campuses, and among industrial workers in preparation of a pending uprising. In essence, this is totalitarian as it mirrors the orders of society laid out since the Middle Ages encompassing nearly everyone in terms of those who work, fight, and pray.

Infiltrating the churches and colleges is essential in order to mold the masses in compliance with one's own warped worldview. It is essential to seize control of the means of production in order to bring society to a grinding halt. For if you can cut off access to food, other necessities and assorted luxuries, you can coerce quite a few to go along with your demands even if they are not inclined to because of the ingrained drives for food, shelter, and clothing.

There is only one reason that one would want to take over the military as articulated by a mentioned Occupy spokesman. That reason is to none other than kill or intimidate into compliance those within education, industry, and religion unwilling to surrender this side of the grave to the brutalizations of totalitarian collectivism.

Some snobs might sneer down their noses since Blaze.com is the news portal of ideological flip-flopper Glen Beck. However, how that refutes the veracity of an Occupy subversive speaking in his own words is never really explained. That's one reason they want to seize control of the military. So the will never be required to explain themselves.

However, there was another statement documented that verifies that desire for what the vast majority of Americans would categorize as violence. One agitator participating in Occupy Movement activism enunciated how he would like to hurl a Molotov cocktail into Macy's.

Such an act is an act of terrorism not all that different than that perpetrated by Islamists around the world. Anyone claiming it is not because of the animosities they harbor against the symbols of capitalism such as department stores should be asked how they would like such an horrible deed perpetrated against their own homes or economic establishments more to their own likings such as food coops and organic markets featuring what is claimed to be locally grown produce.

In response to a brief blog entry I posted, a commenter remarked that I had better stop watching Fox News or Rush Limbaugh and wake up to how the so-called 99% disapprove of how the 1% are living. This also raises a number of questions.

For starters, what if I refuse to? As a free individual, I am permitted to consult whatever sources of information and media that I desire. We call that freedom of thought and expression. It is obvious that with such threats that those sympathetic to the rampagers do not respect liberty of conscience.

But more importantly, does the fact that the 99% approve or disapprove of something make that thing in question good or evil? It has been said that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. To configure that sentiment in a more dignified elocution, the Biblical idiom insists that broad is the path that leads to destruction.

For example, it has been said that pure democracy is a group consisting of 51 men and 49 women where the 51 men vote to rape the 49 women. Some conditioned into the notion that the only way to express things is in the most docile manner possible so as not to spark offense will recoil, insisting that such an extreme example could never take place. But given what has taken place at a number of Occupy encampments such as unsolicited toe sniffing, outright sexual assault, the establishment of female-only tents surrounded by barbed wire and a leadership so spineless that it is reluctant too hand over such criminals to the justice system, those that would consider them themselves adjusted human beings had better think long and hard about basing their convictions upon a foundation no more secure than the whims of a drug-addled mob.

Global society indeed totters along the edge of destruction. Though anyone aware of a world beyond themselves is outraged by the gross excesses wallowed in by those atop the system, one must also be constantly aware of the threat posed by those fanatically insistent that the only way to rectify the perceived outrages is to nearly destroy all of civilized existence in the process.

By Frederick Meekins

Monday, April 3, 2017

News Weeklies Insinuate No Societal Decay Before January 20, 2017

The cover of the March 23, 2017 edition of Time Magazine asks, “Is Truth Dead?”.

But instead of focusing on truth throughout American culture and how developments such as speech codes stifle the free exchange of ideas, the article hones in on the crux of the issue with the more elaborative title of “When A President Can't Be Taken For His Word”.

So was this premiere propaganda outlet of the prevailing establishment as concerned about the issue of truth in government when one President told us that, if we liked our doctor, we could keep our doctor? And what about the President that insisted that he did not have sex with that woman and quibbled once about what the definition of “is” is?

And as Time was shedding crocodile tears over the demise of political veracity, over at Newsweek the hacks there were giving the American people a lesson in how journalism claiming to be objective can still be manipulated to present a slanted view of reality.

For on the March 14, 2017 issue was a caricature of the Statue of Liberty adorned as a member of the border patrol.

The caption that accompanied the illustration read, “Trump's Border War: The Fight Over Immigration Is About To Get Ugly”.

And before now the semi-lawless situation at the border where the territorial integrity of the United States has been protected piecemeal like a Kardashian's virtue has adhered to the highest notions of the true, the good, and the beautiful?

Will these elites assure us that the lax enforcement of these laws that has no doubt led to increased human trafficking has not yet turned ugly?

Will these proponents of cultural decay stand up proudly and declare that they are glad a fourteen year old was allegedly raped in a high school restroom by a freshman pushing well into the age of adulthood that shouldn't even have been in the country in the first place?

Journalism as one of the foundational guardians of the Republic indeed ought to be concerned about the state of truth in America.

But it is indeed a shame that a disturbing percentage practicing this craft and profession lack the fortitude to consider the role played by the press in bringing about the state in which the nation now finds itself mired.

By Frederick Meekins

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

McLaren Distorts Hebrew Scriptures To Undermine Border Security

The particular danger of the heretic or apostate that insists upon to holding to the religious orthodoxy in name only is that so much of their message and ministry is aimed at only telling half of the story for the purposes of manipulation.

For example, regarding the issue of immigration, Emergent Church theologian Brian McLaren is quoted as saying, “A lot of people don't realize the Bible is a book about immigration. Abraham was an immigrant. Moses was a refugee. The Hebrew scriptures have so much to say about how we should treat immigrants and aliens.”

Given the extent to which McLaren has come out in support of gay marriage, why ought he invoke the Hebrew scripture to justify a position he supports when it is quite obvious he has deliberately tossed aside one of that revelation's most foundational teachings?

If we as twenty-first century believers are to uphold the so-called “Hebrew scriptures” and the cultural milieu flowing from that body of teaching as the ideal to which our own society ought to aspire, perhaps we ought to consider and implement as a totality how the ancient Israelites approached (to borrow a term popular in the sort of postmodern circles those like McLaren love to wallow in) “the Other”.

The Mosaic law did indeed admonish that a degree of hospitality and kindness was to be extended to the alien or stranger that the Hebrews encountered that desired to sojourn in the Land of Israel.

McLaren insists, “So much of Jesus' ministry is defined by his reluctance to play along with the nativist urges of his day.”

Yet while the degrees of separation might no longer be as rigorous now in light of the completion of Christ's work in His death, burial, and resurrection as second member of the triune Godhead, it was Christ Himself as a member of the Triune Godhead that played a role in establishing a number of the Hebrew practices that even those religious conservatives McLaren loves to deride would no longer want to see implemented.

For example, regarding intermarriage with those categorized as foreigners from the perspective of the ancient Hebrews that McLaren apparently is emulating as his ideal, Deuteronomy 7:3 says, “Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor shalt his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For thy will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.”

And of these foreigners that came to dwell in Israelite territory, they might have been bestowed a degree of hospitality not known in other cultures of the time.

However, it is doubtful that, if the letter of the Mosaic law had been adhered to, these strangers would have been allowed to continue in their explicitly pagan practices or that the Israelites would have ended up flagellating themselves for existing as a distinct people with their own unique culture and set of customs.

If anything, those wanting to dwell amongst Israel were often required to go through specific rituals to explicitly verify (one might also call the process extreme vetting) that they were in essence without reservation renouncing their former way of life

For example, Deuteronomy 21:11-14 elaborates that of women captured during a war, if an Israelite man wished to marry one of these, he was to shave her head, cut her nails, and to mourn her family for a month before she could be taken as his wife.

Liberals will snap how that seems exceedingly harsh by twenty-first century standards as to border on rape or sexual assault.

Probably so. But in this instance, is it not up to Brian McLaren to explain why he wants to uphold Mosaic law as the ideal upon which to base U.S. immigration policy?

Regarding the literary approach taken in the text, Scripture is believed to teach as much by historical example as by explicit didactic commands.

If so, even though Scripture counsels compassion towards the stranger, it also warns of the dire consequences that result when this is not done from the standpoint of the strength of adhering from morally superior convictions but from a spirit of amalgamative compromise where one god is seen as no different than any other god in the rush for nothing more than a romp in the sack.

Samson's decline can be directly traced to his attraction bordering on the pathological to Philistine women.

Despite serving as the conduit through which numerous warnings promulgated in the Book of Proverbs regarding a variety of strange women, King Solomon himself veered from the path of righteousness in order the placate his numerous heathen brides.

It was in such moments that the Nation of Promise sank to its most debauched depths.

It is doubtful that Ruth celebrated Moabite History Month or did so by demanding that Boaz articulate how wretched he felt for being a Hebrew.

Likewise, it is doubtful Rahab insisted that she be referred to as a Canaanite-Hebrew and that in her presence that events such as the Battle of Jericho were to be recalled only with a downcast face of regret.

God does indeed want Christians to be a beacon of hope in a fallen, troubled, and perishing world.

However, he does not necessarily require us to forsake commonsense to the point where we as individuals and as a distinct world people imperil our own prosperity and very survival in order to do so.

By Frederick Meekins

Friday, February 17, 2017

Christianity Solidified By Apologetics In The Early Days Of The Church

In the Church today, a debate rages over the relationship of philosophy and theology to one another. Some scholarly believers as epitomized by Norman Geisler argue that, since this world is God's world, both can be used to understand Creation if each of these disciplines are approached from a Bibliocentric perspective. The other side of the debate contends that, since theology contains God's revelation to mankind, philosophy at best merely repeats the understanding of theology or at worst actively undermines theology by enshrining human reason as the ultimate standard.

This debate extends back to the earliest days of the Church. Living in the Hellenistic world awash with numerous philosophies, mystery cults, and state religions, the Church quite early on had to address these realities.

Basing their approach on Paul's Mars Hill missionary efforts in Acts 17, early Christians advocating the value of philosophy pointed out that philosophy could be used as a point of contact with the unbeliever when both philosophy and theology concurred on certain matters. For example, Paul was able to win the attention of some Stoics because of the similarities between Christianity and that particular philosophy. Justin Martyr, who went from being a Stoic to an Aristotelian to a Pythagorean to a Platonist, ultimately settled upon being a Christian because he categorized the faith as the true philosophy.

The second approach emphasized its own Pauline justification as well by invoking I Corinthians 1 where in the passage the world's wisdom is categorized as foolishness. Elsewhere, Colossians 2:8 says, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception.” Those adhering to this approach noted how philosophy often bred heresy and unbelief.

A number of Church Fathers favorably disposed towards philosophy harbored questionable beliefs often linked to Platonism. For example, Origen of Alexandria believed that Satan was not beyond redemption since the Devil is a spirit not unlike a run of the mill human being (Gonzalez, 80). Such a perspective was often derived from the Platonic view that God was a nondescript entity that did not create the universe from nothing and did not personally care for individual human beings. Yet God as revealed through Scripture and incarnated in Jesus Christ is known personally by His followers and cares when even the tiniest sparrow falls to the ground.

When viewed from a certain light, both of these approaches relating philosophy and theology possessed merit. Each agreed regarding the centrality of God's revelation of Jesus Christ and on the need for salvation. Those appreciating philosophy were correct in pointing out that all truth is God's truth and that segments of truth can be used to introduce the lost to the source of all truth. Those leery of philosophy were correct in pointing out the danger the discipline would wreak if left unchecked. The descendants of the early Church walking the Earth would do well to consider both of these positions.

I Peter 3:15 commands the Christian to provide an answer for the hope within. Many apologists and theologians interpret this as giving a response to objections and inaccuracies raised by the unbeliever. In the process, the potential exists to bring a substantial number into the faith by highlighting those points of commonality shared between the faith and the most profound insights that human thought have to offer.

Realizing that a percentage of the persecution befalling the Church was the result of inaccurate rumors and incorrect assumptions, the early Apologists set out to set the record straight in a manner that would make a Madison Avenue public relations firm proud. The Apologists answered head on the charges leveled against Christianity and turned them against their pagan adversaries. When accused of orgies and incest through misunderstandings as to the nature of the love feast and the practice of calling fellow believers “brother” or “sister”, the Apologists explained what these terms meant and the pointed out that the pagans themselves committed such debaucheries as exhibited by certain Dionysian rites. (Gonzalez, 50). Accused of atheism for believing in what the Romans considered god and for not believing in the sanctioned state pantheon, Polycarp at his trial was ordered by the judge to vocally proclaim, “Out with atheists.” Polycarp theatrically gestured towards the assembled crowd and declared, “Yes, out with the atheists (Gonzalez, 45).”

Having deflected some of the criticism, the Apologists sought to win Classical civilization by showing that the insights and accomplishments achieved by that particular cultural tradition were not necessarily antithetical to Christian belief in and of itself. Justin Martyr argued that all knowledge stemmed from the universal reason of the Logos manifested in the person of Jesus Christ. Reason was to the Greek what revelation was to the Hebrew in terms of the basis of each culture's epistemological foundation. Justin in fact characterized Christianity as true philosophy.

The Apologists found themselves in an era hostile to the claims of Christianity. Yet they were willing to proclaim the message that the hostile forces arrayed against the Church needed to hear. Though it has not yet come to the same point in our society where believers are being executed for their faith, the contemporary Church needs to emulate this example before such a state of affairs occurs once more.

Over the course of its early history, the Church faced numerous threats. Some of these such as the hostile Roman and Jewish authorities came from without. Those claiming to come from within the Church's own ranks as embodied by the heresies of Gnosticism and Marcionism were as equally dangerous in their own particular manners.

Gnosticism was the name given to a number of related sects claiming they possessed knowledge beyond that held by the Church and the ordinary believer. Gnosticism was in fact a blending of Platonism Judaism, Zoroastrian, and Christian beliefs (Chadwick, 35). A number of these beliefs held by Gnosticism put the movement at odds with the Christian faith.

First among these was that only the spiritual was good and that matter was in fact evil. This teaching manifested itself in two primary ways. Some Gnostics engaged in extreme ascetic practices that ignored basic bodily needs. Other Gnostics invoked their disregard for the material as an excuse for debauched and licentious practices since they insisted bodily actions bore no impact upon one's spiritual well-being.

Beyond this, Gnostics possessed several faulty notions regarding Christ. For example, many Gnostics held that Christ did not actually possess a human body but rather merely appeared to have one. Such a claim would make Christ a liar and thus unworthy of worship.

In Luke 24:39, Christ Himself says, “See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself: touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” If Christ did not have an actual material body, why would He go to such a length in deceiving His associates into thinking He had one? In regards to Gnostic conceptions of salvation, it was not enough to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead, one needed to be initiated into the inner circle of hidden knowledge in order to obtain the passwords needed to ascend to higher levels of enlightened existence.

The second heresy faced by the early Church was Marcionism, named for its founder Marcion. Marcion believed that the God of the Old Testament who created the physical world and who was worshiped by the Jews was not God the Father of Jesus (Chadwick, 39). The higher God sent Jesus into the world to correct the evil wrought by the maniacal Jehovah. To do away with physical procreation which nauseated him, Marcion argued that Christ stepped onto the world stage as a fully grown individual.

Marcion then took it upon himself to establish a canon of sacred writings suitable to the teachings of his sect. Having enunciated this antipathy for the Old Testament God, Marcion rejected that particular portion of Scripture. Of what came to be known as the New Testament, Marcion accepted only the Gospel of Luke and Paul's Epistles. Even these documents did not escape his editor's pen as Marcion proceeded to expunge these texts of their Old Testament quotes and allusions which he claimed had been placed there as Jewish propaganda.

Gnosticism and Marcionism presented powerful threats to the fledgling Christian Church. Fortunately, the Church was able to rally around the faith elaborated in Scripture and empowered by the Holy Spirit to keep these false doctrines at bay.

As the Church grew in number and influence, it was not long before those assembling under its banner or claiming to speak on behalf of its divine founder began promoting and squabbling over differing theological beliefs and interpretations. A number of these were either highly controversial or even blatantly aberrant.

Montanism was a reaction against Marcion and Gnostic theologies. Both Gnosticism and Marcionism sought to undermine the more conventional literal interpretation of Scripture by allegorizing these as many Gnostics had done or by denying the authenticity of such outright as Marcion had done. Each sect also denied essential doctrines such as Christ's virgin birth or physical incarnation.

Montanus along with Prisca and Maximilla were alleged to have prophesied under direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit against as what was classified as “...the Gnostic elimination of the eschatological expectation (Chadwick, 52). “ In many ways, Montanism proved as divisive as its Gnostic and Marcion competition. Many congregations in Asia Minor split, with the church at Thyatira remaining Montanist for nearly a century (Chadwick, 52).

The Montanist movement even appealed to theologians of considerable reputation such as Tertullian. Tertullian was originally attracted to the movement's rigorous ethics and spiritual vigor. However, even he grew weary of the innovation after a fashion because of the movement's failure to deliver on its promise of a new era marked by increased accessibility to the power of the Holy Spirit and its promise of a Christian life surpassing even that enjoyed by the Apostles themselves (Gonzalez, 76).

Such enthusiasm could not be sustained indefinitely. Even if it could, Montanism was not even necessarily that good of an idea since it was itself based upon questionable theological assumptions. For example, Montanists claimed that those doubting the veracity of their prophetic utterances were guilty of blaspheming the Holy Spirit, the greatest offense one could commit in violation of Scripture. Hippolytus pointed out in reference to the Montanist emphasis on supernatural manifestations that these were not the greatest miracle that an individual could experience. But rather that honor was reserved for the occasion of their own individual conversion (Chadwick, 53). The orthodox response to Gnosticism and Marcionism was not to be found in the fits of ecstasy and seeming irrationalism as offered by Montanism but rather in more powerful tools that the Church would find at its disposal.

It would probably not be an exaggeration to say that the average Christian thinks that the Bible plopped down from Heaven complete with leather binding and the words of Christ conveniently highlighted in red. However, the process by which the Church came to accept this gift from God, particular in regards to the books of the New Testament, was a gradual process fraught with a certain degree of controversy along the way.

In response to the Marcion and Gnostic denial of certain Gospels and portions of the Epistles embodied by Marcion's acceptance of only the Gospel of Luke and his removal of Paul's Old Testament quotations as Jewish propaganda, the Church felt that it needed to formalize which writings were binding as divinely inspired. Since Jesus accepted the Old Testament as divinely inspired, so would the Church. Therefore, most of the debate arose surrounding what post-Old Testament writings would be accepted into the corpus of holy writ.

According to Justo Gonzalez in “The Story Of Christianity: The Early Church To The Dawn Of The Reformation”, the first works accepted by the Church were the Gospels. Instead of being discouraged by alleged discrepancies between the exacting details of the Gospels, orthodox Christians pointed out how the considerable agreement between these documents undermined Gnostic claims to the secret knowledge as found in the sect's preferred text the Gospel of Saint Thomas (Gonzalez 63). The next set of works accepted by the Church included the Pauline Epistles and the Book of Acts.

The greatest debate centered around the texts found towards the end of what Christians categorize as the New Testament. Debate ensued over II Peter, Hebrews, James, II John, III John, Jude, and Revelation. Councils were convened at Hipporegiaus in 393, at Carthage in 397, and the Council convened in 419 was under the leadership of none other than Augustine. It was the purpose of these councils to identify which books stood out as having been authored under divine inspiration. However, this process of consensus did not always end the dispute as was the case regarding the Book of Revelation. Though accepted by the third century, its inspiration was questioned after Constantine's conversion because of the book's harsh words regarding tyrannical government and worldliness but this concern subsided by the second half of the fourth century (Gonzalez, 63).

Though the New Testament did not plop down fully formed from Heaven into the hands of Billy Graham or John Paul II, the Church can rest assured as to this work's divine authenticity because even to this very day there are few things to which all Christians agree. For example, Dispensationalists and Covenant theologians seldom agree on the specifics of Scripture's eschatological chronology, but both will agree upon the supremacy of the Lord proclaimed within its pages and the value of each inspired word to the salvation of mankind to this very day.

Faced with challenges such as Gnosticism and Marcionism, the Church formulated several weapons to be used against these kinds of heresies, the New Testament canon being the most powerful tool at the disposal of the Church. However, the Church also possessed a number of other supplementary weapons to be used in a supportive role in the realm of intellectual and spiritual confrontation.

One of these tools used by the Church came to be known as the Apostle's Creed. This symbol of faith was used to identify true believers since those reciting it with understanding were enunciating orthodox doctrine. This creed spoke to the subject of Jesus as God's Son, of the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the historicity of Christ's incarnation under the rule of Pontius Pilate and other foundational Christian doctrines with which assorted competing sects found themselves at variance.

The second used in the Church's arsenal was the Rule of Faith. Very much akin to the Apostle's Creed, the Rule of Faith provided a brief summation of key doctrinal ideas such as those enunciated in the Creed such as the Creation, the Incarnation, and the Ascension. Tertullian found the Rule of Faith easier to use than the Scripture itself since the heretics interpreted Scripture through the lens of their pre-established theological preferences while not accepting the doctrines articulated within the Rule (Chadwick, 45).

The third method employed by the Church to protect the faith was the notion of Apostolic Succession. According to the idea of Apostolic Succession, Christ passed his teaching authority on to the Apostles who in turn handed orthodox teachings over to their successors who eventually handed down this heritage throughout history in an unbroken chain. This idea was formulated to combat Gnostic claims of secret knowledge either passed down outside the established Apostolic channels or lost until rediscovered by the Gnostic adepts of succeeding generations.

Each of these tools used by the Church did possess considerable influence yet could not surpass the power of the New Testament Canon. Both the Apostle's Creed and the Rule of Faith were derived from the teachings of Scripture and were merely tools used to summarize the greater body of work contained within the pages of the New Testament. Apostolic Succession was only of use if those invoking it were willing to adhere to the truth of the Gospel proclaimed by the Apostles and embraced by the early Church. Succeeding centuries would provide the results of what would happen when the traditions of men were given nearly the same weight as the revelation of God.

I Corinthians 12:28 and Ephesians 4:11 list the office and gift of teaching as one of the primary missions within the structure of the Church. It has often been the duty of those taking up the mantle of teaching to fight the doctrinal errors of the day and to prepare their respective congregations to face challenges in the society at large. Two individuals taking up this role in the early church included Irenaeus of Lyon and Tertulian of Carthage.

Iraeneus was born in Asia Minor around AD 130. Eventually Irenaeus migrated to Lyon in southern France where he became presbyter and ultimately bishop after Photinus died under persecution. A disciple of Polycarp, Irenaeus had a pastor's heart in that his greatest interest was in teaching his congregation to live the Christian life and comprehend doctrine. As such, he did not engage in significant philosophical speculation (Gonzalez, 68).

That does not mean, though, that Irenaeus was an intellectual slouch. In “Demonstrations of the Apostolic Faith” and “Against Heresies”, Irenaeus played the role of an ancient Hank Hanegraaff or Norman Geisler by refuting the doctrinal errors of his day --- namely Gnosticism --- and by instructing his readers in essential Christian belief. Taking the shepherd role of a pastor to heart, Irenaeus saw God as a shepherd lovingly leading his flock of humanity to the culmination of history (Gonzalez, 68).

According to Irenaues, humanity was created as children eventually to takeits place as the judges of angels who themselves would help mankind in reaching the point of maturity like a tutor teaching a prince to one day take his place of rulership. Man is also to be taught by God's Word and Holy Spirit. Though history is now marked by sin, there would have been a history anyway (though one not quite as tragic as that now filling the world's libraries). In the drama of history, Israel is the instrument through which God's Word and Spirit reach out to all of mankind with an offer of eternal communion in the form of Jesus Christ.

The second teacher to be discussed is Tertullian of Carthage. In certain respects, Tertullian was the Francis Schaeffer or Ravi Zacharias of his day, utilizing logic and argument to reveal the intellectual and spiritual bankruptcy of his opponents. For example, Tertullian used his legal and rhetorical training to expose the inherent inconsistency of Trajan's policy regarding Christianity: don't actively flush out believers but indeed prosecute them if they happen to get caught (Gonzalez, 74).

Tertullian believed Christianity represented all truth and to seek truth apart from it through Classical culture was pointless at best and idolatry at worst. This sentiment was summarized by his famous aphorism asking what does Athens have to do with Jerusalem. Despite his wit and penetrating logic, Tertullian veered from the straight and narrow off into the Montantist movement which often emphasized alleged fits of the Spirit over the application of logic in addressing other rising heresies.

Perhaps Tertullian's greatest contribution was his understanding of the Trinity. His understanding was formulated in response to Modalism (the belief that the names of “Father”, “Son”, and “Holy Spirit” signify the modes or roles of a unitary God rather than distinctive individuals). Tertullian said of the Trinity that the Godhead consists of one substance and three persons with Christ as the Savior being that distinct person possessing two natures (Gonzalez, 77). And to top off this formidable existence of intellectual accomplishment, Tertullian is honored as the father of Western theology for being among the first to use Latin rather than Greek in his writings.

It is often easy to look down upon teachers and apologists for their application of the intellect in approaching the things of the spirit. However, it cannot be denied that these thinkers play a pivotal role in strengthening the faith of believers and in introducing the faith to a hostile and unbelieving world.

By Frederick Meekins

Chadwick, Henry. “The Early Church.” 1967.

Gonzalez, Justo. “The Story Of Christianity (Vol. 1): The Early Church To The Dawn Of The Reformation. Harper Collins Publishers, 1984.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Superiority Of Theism Part Six: Generic Theism Is Not Enough

From external evidences such as the cosmological and teleological arguments and evidence of a more internal or sociological nature, we see that there is likely some kind of a God that has established the material world and ordered the affairs of men. However, if this is the route through which the skeptic is being brought to God, major hurdles have been surmounted; but we still have a significant journey ahead of us before the seeker arrives on the other side of Heaven's door.

Even if the atheist is convinced as to the insufficiency of their unbelief, there still exists a dizzying array of theistic options available to select from that would end up sending the individual down the same road to Hell if the apologetic task is botched or mishandled. Thus it is imperative to guide the nascent theist into the arms of Christ before they are gobbled up by competing heresies, cults, and world religions.

Since man is a sentient creature that lives amidst the flow of time, the primary revelation and outreach of this Deity would therefore need to consist of some pivotal event occurring in what we know as history. As one of the world's foremost texts detailing the earliest eras of mankind's religious experience, the Bible ought to be one of the first sources considered.

The Bible is perhaps the best-known book in the world and contains within its pages the account of the most widely known person in the world, namely Jesus Christ. Love Him or hate Him, no other figure from ancient times has elicited as much of a response down to this very day. For though many distort His very nature and the claims made by this Nazarene carpenter, scores hoping to sway hearts and minds have often presented themselves as if they had the endorsement of what should have been a figure otherwise forgotten centuries ago.

One of the first objections the atheist that does not want to consider the claims of Christ raises is that the Bible cannot be trusted as an objective factual account. At best, all the Bible can provide is a chronicle of the biases of the early Church and these assumptions not even necessarily from the time when Jesus was supposed to have walked the earth.

In this era of instantaneous global communications, any event that does not have a CNN crew there on the ground to Twitter about it is hardly even considered newsworthy. Thus, it is only natural that, given the nature of the documentary evidence that has come down to us, that the unreflective would cast a leery eye towards it.

According to Geisler and Turek, the gap between the original autographs and the earliest surviving copies is about twenty-five years (226). To put this into perspective, one needs to compare it with other texts coming down to us from the Classical Mediterranean.

For example, there is a gap of 1200 years between the earliest surviving copies of Plato and the originals. Likewise, there is a gap of 1000 years between the earliest surviving works of Julius Caesar and the originals. Yet one does not find many scholars attempting to make careers of respectable renown and adulation by discrediting and throwing into doubt these Greco-Roman pillars of the Western tradition.

The skeptically inclined will likely still not be impressed as to the small gap in time between the earliest surviving copies of a text and the time when the document was believed to have been written if what was written about occurred decades and even centuries before the time in which it was written down. On this point also, however, the New Testament Scriptures in general and the Gospels in particular remain in good standing.

For example, it is believed that most of these works were likely written down in a time frame no later than between AD 62 to 70. Such an assertion is conjectured along the following lines of argumentation.

In Mark 13, Jesus predicts that the Jerusalem Temple will be destroyed before the generation He was speaking to at that time passed away. That prophesy was fulfilled by the Romans in AD 70 in what the historian Josephus categorized as “the greatest war of all time”, a conflict in which the Jews not only lost the focal point of their religious material culture but also tens of thousands of their fellow countrymen (238). Yet not a word of this fulfillment is mentioned in the pages of Scripture even though it could have been one of the greatest "see I told you so" moments in all of history. This causes conservative scholars to conclude that most of the New Testament had likely been written by the time of that event.

Even if the apologist is able to martial a number of these historical technicalities to blunt this particular variety of skepticism, the unbeliever is likely to respond that such details do not validate the content. After all, numerous works can be authenticated to the era in which they are believed to describe and been written in, but are filled either with mild distortions, shushed-over omissions, or even outright lies.

For example, the works of Julius Caesar no doubt cast events in a way to put him in the best possible light and scholars to this day speculate as to what Plato was actually doing during the trial of his beloved Socrates. It is simply an aspect of human nature to obfuscate when we are embarrassed by our responses to certain situations whether we take pen to paper for publication or merely try to get out of a speeding ticket. The Bible, on the other hand, is one of the few books where the warts of its protagonists and even those overseeing the compilation of its documents are put out there for all the world to see. For example, it is believed that Mark penned his Gospel under the oversight of the Apostle Peter. Yet in that very document, Christ chastised Peter as Satan, the very embodiment of evil, and elsewhere in the New Testament this rock upon which Christ is said to have built His church comes across like any other human being as a loudmouth coward that often fails to live up to his bellicose promises.

It is at this level of detail that the Christian is able to present the case that the Gospels are an actual historical account rather than a mythological legend. Geisler and Turek write, “Now think about this: If you were a New Testament writer, would you include these embarrassing details if you were making up a story...Would you depict yourselves as uncaring, bumbling cowards, and the women --- whose testimony wasn’t even admissible in court --- as the brave ones who stood by Jesus and later discovered the empty tomb? Of course not (277).”

Once the credibility of the New Testament eyewitnesses is established, the unbeliever is forced to confront the underlying claims of the Gospel narrative and ultimately of Scripture. Those happen to be nothing less than what happened to Jesus and whom did Jesus claim Himself to be.

The central event in the life of Jesus was nothing less than His resurrection from the dead. No one living in the contemporary technocratic world --- be they devout or atheist alike --- believes that rising from the dead is a common occurrence. Where opinion diverges is on the issue of whether such an event is an impossibility or rather one requiring divine intervention in order to be orchestrated.

Skeptics not wanting to accept the account at face value have over the decades concocted a number of theories as to why the orthodox understanding as to what happened is not entirely accurate. These accuse the parties involved of a variety of shortcomings from a naive innocence, to incompetence, to outright criminality.

The first attempt to explain away the Resurrection is the Swoon Theory. This theory posits that Jesus did not really die on the cross but rather merely lost consciousness. It really does take more faith to believe in this particular explanation than the one provided in the Gospels.

This theory, in fact, does not take the facts into account. For starters, to say Jesus merely passed out or even went into a temporary coma is to seriously underestimate the brutality the Romans had perfected as an art of terror. Even from non-Christian disciplines such as contemporary archaeology and ancient sources such as Quintilian, we learn about practices such as plunging a spear into the heart to make sure that the victim was really dead (304).

Even if the Romans had botched the job in failing to kill Jesus (as we all know of instances where government employees have been less than dutiful), Jesus would have been in no physical shape to accomplish what the Gospels said He did following the Crucifixion. Even Jack Bauer could not have pulled it off as it must be remembered anyone in such a condition would have had their body broken beyond repair.

The following makes the Swoon Theory downright impossible. Jesus would have been embalmed with nearly 75 pounds of spices and bandages (305). To affect an escape, a man critically injured would have not only had to remove these, but also to remove the two-ton stone closing the tomb as well as take on the Roman soldiers. Had such a scenario transpired, Geisler and Turek humorously quip, "Even if he could get out of the tomb and past the Roman guards, Jesus would have been a battered...man whom the disciples would pity, not worship They'd say, 'You may be alive, but you're certainly not risen. Let's get you to a doctor' (305)."

For starters, to accuse the Disciples of stealing the body is to ignore that all but one of Christ's most loyal Apostles were believed to have died violent martyrs’ deaths and the one that did not was essentially exiled on a desolate island. While history and the evening news is replete with examples of those that give their lives for things that are ultimately proven to be falsehoods, seldom will someone give their life willingly for what they themselves know to be a lie. For example, would someone like Peter, whose survival instinct was so strong that he ended up denying his beloved Jesus multiple times, have willingly allowed himself to be crucified upside down, if legends are to be believed, if he knew that the account of the Resurrection was merely a fabrication?

Ironically, as scholars eager to tear down the traditional intellectual structures of Western civilization in favor of ones more socialistic in orientation are often fond of pointing out in their preferred narrative of Jesus as a merely human Apocalyptic revolutionary, the Jerusalem and Greater Palestine of that day were powder kegs set to go off in terms of violence at any moment. No on in authority --- be they Jewish religious leaders, the Herodians holding tenuous political power, or the occupying Roman military forces --- would have allowed news of a Resurrected Jesus to continue to spread if they could have found a plausible grave robber on which to pin the blame.

One theory that seeks to deny the truth of the Resurrection while upholding the good but somewhat naive natures of Christ's disciples is the Hallucination Theory (302). According to this hypothesis, those that loved Jesus were so distraught with grief that Jesus merely appeared to them in their own minds as part of a mental breakdown.

While this might be a valid line of argumentation if there were only one or two followers stepping forward to claim they had seen the risen Christ, such was not the case. Bible scholars and theologians such as Norman Geisler point out that not only did 500 see Christ after the Resurrection took place but some of these interactions were tactilely tangible such as when Thomas touched our Lord’s wounds. Hallucinations would not be a communal experience but rather something highly individualized.

Once the unbeliever has been presented with evidence attesting to Christ’s resurrection, they will have to pay attention to his claims and the claims made about Him for no other reason than that someone having been risen from the dead needs to be considered seriously because of having accomplished something so outside the historical norm. In the attempt to accommodate a place for Jesus somewhere in their worldview, many people as well as most religions will concede that Jesus was a very good man but certainly not God or God’s only Begotten Son. Such a position may be even more intellectually disingenuous and self-deluding than the brand of atheism espoused by the likes of Friedrich Nietzsche. To his credit, at least this crazed syphilitic was consistent in heaping condemnation on both God and Christ.

One must either embrace Jesus as Savior, Lord, and God or one cannot embrace Him at all. Perhaps the greatest summation of this idea was formulated by C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity when he said, “That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the things that Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would be a lunatic --- on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg --- or else he would be the Devil of Hell (Geisler, 346).”

The astute unbeliever then might point out that what was it exactly that Jesus said since the elaborate Christologies that developed could be accretions that attached themselves to the narrative at a later date and might not be actual components of the original texts. After all, it is common for Christians in this hypersensitive era to point out that not everything done throughout history in the name of Jesus would necessarily be approved of by Jesus. Dan Brown, because of his blockbuster The Da Vinci Code, will never have to work another day in his life, having capitalized on the assumption in the popular culture that the Jesus of orthodoxy presented to the ecclesiastical world might not exactly be the Jesus of raw history.

The idea that Jesus never claimed to be deity is clearly refuted by His own words recorded in the pages of Scripture. There are numerous instances where Jesus clearly addresses the matter to both the accepting and critical alike.

For example, in John 8, Jesus says, "before Abraham was, I AM." This is in fact a name of God the Lord first reveals to Moses when He imparted to Moses instructions as to what Moses was supposed to say on behalf of the Israelites. The title attests to God being self-existent and dependent on no one; in other words, the Unmoved Mover to formulate the concept in a manner preferable to those more familiar with the terminology of Aristotle and Aquinas.

In accounts of those that already believed in Jesus or would come to believe in Jesus, Jesus asked them whom they thought He was. For example, after Thomas examined the scars of the resurrected Jesus, upon resolving his initial skepticism, Thomas declared Jesus to be his Lord and his God. And when Peter was asked by Jesus who he thought Jesus was, Peter responded in Mark 16:16, "Thou art the Christ."

In neither of these instances did Jesus refute the claims. And in the case of Peter, Jesus said, "thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church." Though theologians might debate as to whether Jesus meant the faith and devotion of Peter or rather the divinity of Christ upon which all other assumptions of the faith flow, that is not the point of this particular exposition.

The road to embracing the Christian faith can be a long and arduous journey. The climate in which we find ourselves is of little assistance in alleviating the doubts that arise within ourselves as fallen creatures wanting to embrace our own sinful desires as well as elaborate systems of thought external to ourselves that have been crafted in the attempt to justify refusal to accept the one solution capable of rescuing man from his Hell-bound situation. It is, thus, the purpose of Apologetics to assure the skeptic that Christianity is a faith founded on fact and that it is atheism which stretches the bounds of reason beyond belief.

By Frederick Meekins

Thursday, February 9, 2017

A Review Of “A Survey Of The New Testament” By Robert Gundry

As God's revelation to mankind, the Bible is complete in itself and capable of equipping the believer for every good work. Thus, with it alone, the Christian has everything that is necessary to learn the essentials of salvation and the wisdom necessary to sail the turbulent seas of life. Yet, unlike many other theological and religious texts, the Bible presents numerous universal truths by addressing concrete historical situations rather than by presenting a set of detached philosophical postulates.

As such, an understanding of the backdrop against which certain Biblical texts were written can provide the believer with a deeper appreciation of and greater insight into the Word of God. That said, to the average believer, that has not already acquired an extensive background knowledge of the Ancient Near East, such a task can seem quite daunting. Fortunately, “A Survey Of The New Testament” by Robert Gundry makes such a goal much more manageable.

“A Survey Of The New Testament” accomplishes this in part by grouping various New Testament books together in relation to when they were written or by thematic topic. For example, Galatians, I Thessalonians and II Thessalonians are classified together as the early epistles of Paul; I Corinthians, II Corinthians, and Romans are categorized as the Major Epistles of Paul. Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, I Timothy, II Timothy, and Titus are lumped together as the Pastoral Epistles of Paul because they were written specifically for young pastors (409). The books of James, I Peter, II Peter, I John, II John, III John and Jude are classified as Catholic or General Epistles because these texts were not targeted towards a specific locality. Hebrews and Revelation are each assigned their own individual chapters.

From this system of classification, Gundry proceeds to analyze each of these New Testament books. He accomplishes this by first outlining the major themes of the book under consideration for quick reference and then proceeds to a more in depth analysis of the text under consideration. For example, in the outline for I Corinthians, the student will see that marriage is discussed in I Corinthians 7:1-40 (361). Flipping ahead a few pages, the reader will find, thanks to the convenient subsection headings, where Gundry provides a more detailed examination into the Biblical teaching prohibiting divorce on the part of believers married to unbelievers and where he delves in an evenhanded manner into the debate whether the Christian abandoned by an unbelieving spouse is permitted to remarry.

Though Gundry does highlight the wisdom found in the pages of the New Testament epistles most are accustomed to discussing in Sunday school, his “Survey Of The New Testament” is no mere devotional and will keep the attention of those seeking deeper academic understanding of the sacred documents. For example, in his examination of the Book of Galatians, Gundry goes into considerable detail as to whether the epistle was addressed towards either North or South Galatia.

Such an academic conjecture has bearing upon as to when the book was written. Gundry points out that, if the text was addressed to the area of Northern Galatia which Paul did not visit until his second missionary journey, this means the epistle was not written until after the Jerusalem Council detailed in Acts 15. If the epistle was addressed towards Southern Galatia, then it is believed to have been written after Paul's first missionary journey and thus prior to the Jerusalem Church Council (346).

If one is not particularly inspired by such academic technicalities, one might find the chapters regarding the cultural settings of the New Testament world much more interesting. One may even find considerable similarity with our own era.

Religiously and philosophically, Gundry describes a world of considerable variation. Permeating the non-Jewish population of the Mediterranean was the official state religion of Rome combining Greco-Roman mythology along with emperor worship to which the population was expected to grant tacit consent.

However, it must be pointed out to the reader that this belief served more as a backdrop rather than the sum total of religious expression. For it is from the assorted esoteric sects and various philosophies that many drew inspiration and centered their lives around.

It is at this point where Gundry lists some of the various philosophies popular at that time that the reader can see similarities with those prevalent in our own era. For example, Epicureans taught pleasure as the chief end of life, Stoicism taught dutiful acceptance of one's fate, and the skeptics are described as relativists who abandoned belief in the absolute. As the Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul would have confronted these philosophies on a regular basis as exemplified by his encounter on Mars Hill in Acts 20.

In light of the popularity of works such as “The Da Vinci Code” and “The Gospel Of Judas”, it can be easy for the faith of the Christian to be shaken by those claiming to have attained higher levels of academic expertise. Written from a solidly Evangelical perspective, “A Survey Of The New Testament” by Robert Gundry is a trustworthy defense against these pervasive heresies that have stalked the Church from its earliest days.

It is often assumed that Christianity appropriated the ideas of the immortality of the soul, resurrection of the dead, and ceremonial washing such as baptism from the so-called mystery religions. However, Gundry points out, “On the other hand, not until the second, third, and fourth centuries of the Christian era do we get detailed information concerning the beliefs held by the devotees of the mysteries...Where their later beliefs look slightly similar to Christian beliefs, the direction of borrowing may have gone from Christianity to the mystery religions rather than vice versa (58).”

It has been said that the Scriptures are simple enough for a child to understand yet deep enough for a theologian to drown in. “A Survey Of The New Testament” by Robert Gundry will serve as a sufficient life preserver as the believer heads out into doctrinally deep waters.

By Frederick Meekins

Saturday, February 4, 2017

The Superiority Of Theism Part 5: The Incredulous Nature Of Scientism

Yet despite the complexities and intricacies of both the biological and physical realms, atheistic naturalists continue on in their faith despite all the evidence to the contrary. Whereas Christians and other forms of theism look to deity to smooth over or bridge these aspects of reality that the finite mind struggles with comprehending, unbelievers look to other sources as to the origins of things.

These are none other than time and chance. With no conscious hand guiding the cosmos as posited in theism, everything we see around us today is the result of fortuitous confluences; in other words, by blind random luck over vast eons of time.

Even with vast amounts of time, the atheistic evolutionist must account for how everything is just so to sustain the universe as demonstrated by the Anthropic Constants. Theists point out it defies probability for the universe we experience today to have arisen on its own since such a vast number of fortuitous coincidences to occur in such a manner is not likely.

Rather than admit the need for a God, a number of atheists reach into the conceptual “black hole” and pull out what has to be a last ditch explanation. According to the Multiple Universe Theory, the probability of something happening should not be viewed as a statistical barrier to it occurring since parallel realities have formed where everything that could possibly happen has happened (107-108).

It is time to invoke the Geisler/Turek doctrine of “I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist”. Isn’t it just easier to admit that God exists?

Admittedly, over the years, Multiple Universe Theory has led to some interesting science fiction such as the episode of Star Trek where Captain Kirk met an evil version of the Enterprise crew with a Mr. Spock that Dr. McCoy admitted looked like a pirate. However, in the end even DC Comics found the concept of divergent parallel realities very confusing with multiplying Batmen, for instance, that writers often yanked readers around by the chain in terms of plotlines by invoking as a defense as to whether or not the Caped Crusader’s famed insignia had a yellow oval around it at the time or not. Editors finally put a stop to the implausibility over two decades ago through the monumental “Crisis On Infinite Earths” miniseries. Its about time those claiming to be grounded in the real world did the same.

Though they attempt to pass themselves off as detached and dispassionate seekers of truth, the proponents of scientism often have less than scientific reasons for undermining the credibility of theism. For example, it has been claimed that when he was asked by Merv Griffin why he believed in Darwinism, famed evolutionist Julian Huxley is said to have responded, “The reason we accepted Darwinism even without proof is because we didn’t want God to interfere with our sexual mores (163).”

I will be the first to admit that more than one Evangelical scholar has cited the recall of D. James Kennedy as the source of this quote (including Geisler and Turek) rather than a more irrefutable reference such as a transcript of the broadcast. As such, academic nitpickers will likely snip at it with their feigned sophistication and pretension as if their own claims don’t already rest on a house of cards.

However, Huxley’s alleged mindset is just as pervasive among evolution's lesser luminaries as well. Ron Carlson, author of classic apologetics texts such as “Fast Facts On False Teaching”, relates an incident where at an after-lecture dinner a biology professor admitted that, while what Carlson had to say made considerable sense, he himself held a position disturbingly similar to what Huxley is said to have revealed on national TV. The professor said, "I mean if Darwinism is true --- there is no God and we all evolved from slimy green algae --- then I can sleep with whomever I want. In Darwinism, there is no moral accountability (163)."

Many will no doubt be shocked by this claim since most academics look like they can barely get dates much less be chronic bed-hoppers though Bertand Russell certainly went through a number of marriages and liaisons for someone looking so disheveled. However, its bluntness is absolutely honest. For if atheism was true and God did not exist, then nothing is right and nothing ultimately wrong.

Geisler and Turek tackle this unsettling reality in the chapter titled “Mother Teressa vs. Hitler” since these two figures epitomize the dichotomies of good and evil to the contemporary popular mind. The authors make the following argument: “(1) Every law has a law giver. (2) There is a Moral Law. (3) Therefore, there is a Moral Law Giver (171).”

Concepts such as justice, fairness, and rights are ultimately predicated on the foundation of there being a Law Giver unchanging in His nature. For if there is no consciousness existing above mankind and the institutions of the species, whatever those institutions decide becomes by definition the good and the right. As has been said, democracy with no higher check placed upon it is a group of 100 where 51 men vote to rape 49 women.

The sensitivities of the delicate in this culture that just about goes to ridiculous extremes to curry favor with the self-appointed mouthpieces of certain favored demographics might be shocked by such a statement. However, it is an honest assessment if the world described by atheism was the most accurate.

If there is no intelligence existing above and transcendent to the physio-social realm, the right or rather the operationally convenient becomes whatever those holding power over a given territory say it is. Geisler and Turek highlight a few of these startling implications.

For starters, if there is no divine moral law existing about men and nations, there would be no human rights. In an atheistic world, no authority exists above the government; and since it is the final word, whatever it says is by definition proper. If its leaders want the consent of the governed, that is fine and so is rounding up all the Jews and putting them in gas ovens if that is what authorities think is necessary to secure the survival and prosperity of the nation.

The fact that a wide array of individuals from Rosa Parks to Gandhi to Alexander Solzhenitsyn have spoken out against the shortcomings of the nations and times in which lived they is itself proof that a moral law exists. Figures such as these are remembered largely in history for marshaling reason and and argumentation on behalf of their respective causes rather than armed force.

Geisler and Turek write, "Without a Moral Law, there would be nothing objectively wrong with Christians...forcibly imposing their religion on atheists. There would be nothing wrong with outlawing atheism, confiscating the property of atheists, and giving it to Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell (181)." These authors conclude, "Unless atheists claim that there is a moral law [that] condones or condemns...then their positions are nothing more than their own subjective preferences (181)."

by Frederick Meekins

Bibliography: Norman Geisler and Frank Turek. “I Don't Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist.”

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Sloppy Exegesis A Gift That Ought To Be Returned

The trick (or perhaps better stated skill as some theological nitpickers might associate the first term with the work of the Devil) in exegeting a Biblical text is deciphering if a particular narrative the circumstances that are of an historical nature pertaining only to that unique incident from those which are a prescription binding upon everyone irrespective of time or geography.

It has been observed that the accounts of the Advent and Nativity stand in stark contrast to the gospel of abortion as advocated by infanticide front groups such Planned Parenthood.

Southern Baptist theologian Russell Moore in his column titled “Joseph of Nazareth vs. Planned Parenthood” attempts to formulate a number of suggestions and proposals for the Christian wanting to apply the spirit of the Christmas story in their own lives.

This effort in itself is not necessarily without merit. For example, Moore suggests adoption as an alternative to the pervasiveness of abortion.

However, where Dr. Moore goes a hair too far is his suggestion insinuating that adoption is somehow an obligation on the part of the believer rather than one way particular families might decide for themselves to live out the implications of the Biblical message in their specific lives. Even more debatable is the invocation of Joseph as a pretext to shame the individual Christian into compliance.

Of particular interest is how the onus of sin is placed upon Christians deciding that taking on the responsibility of someone else's unwanted child is not necessarily for them rather than the ones despising a child to the extent that they are willing to see the child in question murdered.

In his exposition, Dr. Moore rips entire Scriptures from their particular contexts. For example, Moore writes, “In his obedience, Joseph demonstrated what his other son would later call 'pure' and undefiled religion', the kind that cares for the fatherless and abandoned (James 1:27).”

Regarding the children threatened by abortion today as well as the single mother households that Moore's kind of rant invokes in order to coerce all sorts of handouts, technically these children are not necessarily orphans and these WOMENNNN (said with the politically correct emphatic pronunciation often extended to this gender category) are not widows.

These children still have mothers to provide for them and, in most cases, their fathers are still alive and are simply deadbeats that refuse to take care of the lifetime consequence resulting from a few fleeting moments of pleasure. Likewise, to enjoy the sympathy, honor, and protection of which a widow is deserving, a woman needs to have had first been married, a criteria many these days finding themselves already with children have yet to fulfill.

As such, how about first casting blame at those that have actually done something wrong? For when was the last time you heard a good old fashioned hellfire and brimstone sermon directed at both unfit parents?

Criticisms of inept and negligent fatherhood are not all that uncommon. They are in fact the homiletical staple of Father's Day. However, rarely will you hear condemnation of the unfit mother often so enamored with her carefree lifestyle that she is willing to allow the murder of her unborn child. In the noble endeavor to save as many children as possible from pre-natal human butchery as possible, like hostage negotiation at times it might be necessary to sweet talk and stroke the egos of these women threatening infanticide until the child can be rescued from their clutches. However, one is in danger of approaching a conceptual state bordering heresy if one's systematic theology is compromised while engaged in such a tactic.

In his application of Biblical texts, Dr. Moore glosses over where shortcomings of character and behavior ought to be called out at least in generalized terms and cries out he has found these kinds of deficiencies where none in fact actually exist.

For example, the crux of Moore's argument centers around Joseph not abandoning Mary after she was found with child and this humble carpenter taking Mary as his wife and in essence raising Jesus as his own despite Him not being such. However, the invocation of Mary as a categorical imperative to be applied in the case of every other woman in the world does not hold up to closer scrutiny.

Foremost, God appeared to Joseph in a dream to dispel any notions Joseph might have had that Mary found herself in these circumstances as a result of sin. In fact, in regards to this aspect of her virtue, she was far from such blemish and actually selected because of her status as a righteous virgin.

In this day of radical non-judgmentalism, it will be snapped let he that is without sin cast the first stone. That is usually Biblically sound advice. However, nowhere in not casting the first stone is one man obligated to surrender to the humiliation of having to pick up the tab for a baby conceived through the normal carnal means between his fiancée or betrothed and another dude.

Furthermore, why does this non-judgmentalism only apply to those living in outright sin? Dr. Moore certainly doesn't mind getting up in the grill of those that haven't emptied their bank accounts so the libertines can continue to breed wantonly without the consideration of their actions.

If Mary had conceived in such a fashion, Joseph should have kicked her to the curb. Russell Moore writes, “With full legal rights to abandon Mary and her unborn child --- perhaps to a fate worse than death --- Joseph obeyed the Father in becoming a father.” But, to reemphasize, that is because in this instance Mary had done nothing wrong.

From the way that Moore writes, had Joseph followed legal procedure, he would have been exceedingly cruel. But wasn't it because of the seemingly harsh nature of this prospective penalty that in all likelihood that the out of wedlock birthrate among the ancient Israelites in times when that people were living for the most part righteously was nothing in comparison to what it is today?

It must also be asked who was it that set up what looks to early twenty-first century eyes as an excessively judgmental social system. You can't really get all bent out of shape at the ancient Israelites because in many instances they were merely implementing what God had ordered them to under threats of calamity and damnation if they failed to do so until instructed otherwise.

This matter of whether Joseph would keep Mary or set her aside is not the only matter in which Russell Moore has not thought out the implications of what he has said in regards to these issues at hand.

Moore writes, “In a culture captivated by the spirit of Herod, could it be that God is calling our churches to follow the example of Joseph?” In that remark, Dr. Moore articulates the typical anti-male animus that has come to increasingly characterize Christian Evangelicalism.

For those that might not recall, following the visitation of the Magi, Herod flew into a rampage ordering the the murder of male children below two years of age. As a result, Joseph was instructed in a dream to escape with Mary and the Christ Child into the land of Egypt.

From the way Moore flippantly handles the allusion to the narrative, one could come away with the impression that Joseph was the only father or designated male provider to care in all of Bethlehem. Don't you think the other fathers loved their children enough that if they were accustomed to receiving messages via dreams that they would have also packed up their bags and gotten out of town if they had been extended such an opportunity? One cannot very well accuse these fathers of any wrongdoing in regard to Herod's slaughter of the innocents if the general population was extended no warning of the pending assault.

The war against human life throughout the contemporary world is pervasive. Those taking principled stands of whatever form grand or small will be commended by their Father in Heaven. However, in our own zeal for what is right, caution must be taken not to pull the facts of divine revelation from their holy context to create binding parallels that can only be deduced as a result of strained analogies such narratives never intended.

By Frederick Meekins