I just read a piece from Peter Leithart from the on-line Credenda Agenda called On Not Blackballing. The argument in the piece is that it is the Reformed tradition to be inclusive. His evidence is from a book about the openness of the Westminster Assembly and the English Delegation getting certain condemnations removed from the Synod of Dort. Both showed a willing to be inclusive of certain positions and not have a down the line dogmatism. Thus, the Reformed tradition is one that is tolerant of certain divergent views and it should not use those documents to blackball certain people or at least certain positions out of the Reformed churches. Such action would violate the very spirit that made the documents. Or at least so goes the argument.
This was an interesting piece since Leithart himself is now going to be on trial with the PCA in his presbytery and the SJC has basically already condemned him. This article seems then to be a bit of plea not to go down the road that the PCA appears to have chosen to go down.
However, his argument has one glaring hole. Even if we agree that the documents (Dort and the Westminster) are documents that are open to various positions, what does it mean for those positions that are clearly outside of those documents? If Dort was unwilling to condemn the idea that some people could temporarily enjoy some soteriological benefits, does it then mean that those who teach sacraments convey salvation benefits must be tolerated too, or those who change the definition of election taught in the standards must not be forced out of Reformed churches? Does it mean that everything not specifically condemned in the Canons of Dort are to be accepted? Such appears to be the plea. But, it seems to me that if the Synod was as open as he claims that those things that contradict the teachings of Dort then not only are not acceptable, but must be blackballed. If such an open Synod did not leave room for it then it cannot be tolerated in any way shape or form. The same can be said for his point about the Westminster Confession. If the Westminster was still nice to some who argued for positions that were not in the end adopted, those who outright go against the Westminster cannot be allowed anywhere near a Presbyterian pulpit? If it was so bad that such an ecumenical gathering could not allow it, then it cannot be allowed ever. That seems to make sense to me.
So, I wonder if Leithart has not argued himself into a corner in this article. Clearly Leithart does not believe he has violated the Westminster or Dort for that matter. But, when I think I have not violated the speed limit, it does not get me off the hook when the officer shows me the radar gun. What matters is whether or not I did violate the speed limit, not whether or not I think I did. Ultimately God is the judge of such things, but on earth the church will make such a decision. It is what pastors mutual agree to when they join a denomination.
I am not a big fan of the PCA judicial system. In fact, I think it is a mess. But, I do hope Leithart actually sticks around for the trial rather than running to the Confederation of Reformed Evangelicals. I think all sides deserve a day in court.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
I just read a piece from Peter Leithart from the on-line Credenda Agenda called On Not Blackballing. The argument in the piece is that it is the Reformed tradition to be inclusive. His evidence is from a book about the openness of the Westminster Assembly and the English Delegation getting certain condemnations removed from the Synod of Dort. Both showed a willing to be inclusive of certain positions and not have a down the line dogmatism. Thus, the Reformed tradition is one that is tolerant of certain divergent views and it should not use those documents to blackball certain people or at least certain positions out of the Reformed churches. Such action would violate the very spirit that made the documents. Or at least so goes the argument.
Friday, December 25, 2009
Let me wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. A remember that we celebrate because the Word was made flesh so that we might be saved from our sins. Has there ever been a better reason to feast than that?
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Thanks to the EPA everyone is now officially a polluter. CO2, Carbon Dioxide, the stuff we all exhale, is officially a pollutant. Yes, the stuff that helps plants stay green is actually bad for the environment, that is if you believe the government.
The question is why? Since it is becoming clearer and clearer that Global Warming is a hoax and no real science supports carbon dioxide warming the planet, why the EPA decision. Well, I believe the reason is two fold. One, so that even if the Congress fails to pass the Cap and Trade the EPA will just impose it. But I think the other reason is the real one.
Two, this is about population control and forcing people to abort or not have children. Yes, the policy that is currently in place in China is the goal of environmentalists who are communists in the end anyway. Think I am crazy? Take a read of a Canadian journalist who believes the government killing machine in China is a great idea. Global warming can only be stopped if fewer humans exist. Because humans are the enemy. That has always been the real point. People are bad. And now they want to control population in order to achieve their goals. Global warming is just the latest reason to promote their love of death.
You might be saying, "That is just one wacko in Canada". But wait, it is also CNN and apparently a lot of their viewers. Jack Cafferty thinks that if we keep having children their will not be enough stuff and that the problem is “religious fundamentalists” like me. That is right. The reason emerges. These people promote one child per family despite the obvious math dilemma, despite no science to support them, and despite the disastrous effects in China, they still argue for aborting or preventing all children after your first. Why? I believe the answer is in the laying the blame at the feet of fundamentalist. They hate God. Man is in the image of God, and thus, anti-religious people hate man too. They will prevent him from being born if they can. Those who hate God love death. And death is what they hope to deal out when they are promoting this one child policy.
Keep an eye on this subject. It is not over. It will come up for debate again and again. The war on Christians and their families has just begun.
The College Basketball season has started, and I just wanted to make sure that everyone is watching the right conference. Keep your eye on the Missouri Valley Conference.
Currently only Drake and Creighton are below .500, and Creighton (3-5) has beaten Nebraska, who beat USC and TCU earlier this year. They also have two undefeated teams. Missouri State (8-0) with wins over Auburn, Tulsa, and Eastern Michigan to name a few. Illinois State (7-0) is also undefeated, but with a weak schedule so far with the only win of any note being over Illinois Chicago. Wichita State (8-1) and Northern Iowa (6-1) have only one loss and are a bit stronger than Illinois State. Witchita State destroyed Iowa at Iowa and played Pitt close. Northern Iowa beat Iowa and Iowa St. in addition to Boston College on the road and East Carolina at home. Their only loss is to Depaul. The Conference has an overall winning record on the road and even Bradley (5-2) has beaten Illinois, who was ranked in the Top 25 at the time.
So just make sure you keep an eye on this conference. They are loaded with teams that have potential. It will be an exciting season and perhaps a multiple bid year for this confernce.
Thursday, December 03, 2009
Intellectuals are not ever really held to standards anymore. At least with how the term is usually used. People are intellectual because they are, or because they work at a university or something like that. Those who come along and buck the system are not intellectuals, they are stupid and ignorant, or at least they are until their team wins and then they are the party line and now intellectual. Which leads me to this question? Does truth matter when we are considering someone to be intellectual?
Take this recent bru-ha-ha about Global Warming. Some scientists, who were all considered intellectual and some of them at least had shared in a Nobel Prize, were all faking their data and making things up. The truth stared them in the face, and they went in the opposite direction despite the truth. Surely we can now recognize that these people are not intellectuals, but rather silly liars despite the Nobel Prizes and degrees hanging on their walls.
But do we have to wait for proof of out right fraud before we apply the truth to discerning whether people are intellectuals or not? Take Karl Marx for example. He still has millions of followers, but all of the Communistic countries like the USSR have been placed firmly on the “ash heap of history” or at least have altered their economic system to allow capitalism. Does Marx rate as an intellectual? What about the next step in John Maynard Keynes. His system does not appear to work, but still has devoted followers, at least politically. Milton Friedman led a critical movement of Keynes and for almost a generation economists agreed that his theories did not work. Is Keynes an intellectual? More importantly can both Keynes and Friedman be intellectuals? One of them has to be right and the other wrong? Is the one who is wrong still an intellectual despite being completely wrong? What role does truth play in who is and who is not an intellectual?
Let me get one step closer to a point. What about Charles Darwin or Jay Gould (inventor of Punctuated Evolution)? Are these men intellectuals? Darwin had a scientific theory. He proposed what he considered evidence, and even admitted the lack of fossil records, but assumed they would be found soon enough (they have not by the way). It is not really a testable theory as we cannot re-create the beginning of the world in a test tube. Gould’s ideas are even less testable as he makes the lack of evidence a sign of evidence for his theory, convoluting the whole thing even more. But the untestable point goes both ways, as there is no way to actually prove evolution either. Yet, these men are considered intellectuals. But, if they are completely and totally wrong then should they be?
The Bible tells us that the fool says in his hear there is no God, and the beginning of wisdom is the fear of God. Can one be both an intellectual and a fool? Maybe depending on the definition, I guess. But the point is that it seems odd to me that today we throw around terms of intellectual and anti-intellectual (or worse terms such as liars and skeptics)without regard for truth.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Forgotten Refomer: Oswald Myconius
Okay, so I am not yet done with this series. I have time for (at least) one more. This one is Oswald Myconius. Born in 1488 as Oswald Geisshussler in Lucerne Switzerland. He was a good student and during his studies in Rothwyl he met Berthold Haller. Oswald went to Basle in 1514 to be a teacher. It was probably Erasums who called him Oswald Myconius, which he then took to himself. Many scholars changed their names during this time. Making their name Greek apparently is some sort of status symbol or something. He became a teacher in the city and there he made the acquaintance of Ulrich Zwingli. It is with Zwingli that Myconius becomes life long friends. Myconius married while in Basle as well. During this stay in Basle, Myconius also became friends with Oecolampadius and Wolfgang Capito. Yet, Myconius would not stay in Basle forever. He went to take a teaching position in Zurich in 1516. There is some evidence to show that Myconius was already teaching some Reformational truths during his time in Zurich including claiming that the pope was not to be followed if he contradicted the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thus, Myconius is in Zurich before Zwingli and laying some ground work for the Reformation there. Although it is to be remembered he is only the head teacher at the Cathedral School, and not yet a pastor. But in 1518, it is Myconius who convinces the Cathedral chapter to extend the call to Ulrich Zwingli to be the pastor. Together Zwingli and Myconius begin to spread Reformational truth to the people of Zurich. Yet, the partnership was only to be for a year as Myconius then went back to Lucerne with hopes of spreading the Reformation to Lucerne. He was often attacked and was ultimately unsuccessful in Lucerne. But in 1522, Myconius took a position as pastor of Einsleden, where Zwingli had preached from 1516-1518 and Leo Juda from 1518-1522. Thus, there he stood in a line of Reformational preachers, and did not have to endure the attacks upon the gospel and the false slanders of his character. He did not stay long as by the end of 1523 he is in Zurich teaching the school there again. He returns to the pulpit in 1531 upon the death of John Oecolampadius as the head pastor of Basle. It is there that he aids in the editing and publication of the First Confession of Basle. He stays there laboring until his death in 1552.
Myconius was an early convert to the Reformation and worked for it everywhere he went. He was not able to reform Lucerne, but he was the school teacher there. He did aid in the reformation of Zurich. In fact, he played a large role in getting the people to call Zwingli to the pulpit and then returning again in 1523 as the battle reached its climax. He filled an important slot upon the death of John Oecolampadius as the head pastor of Basle. In doing so he helped keep Switzerland on track in the Reformation despite losing Zwingli and Oecolampadius in one year. His election to the post in Basle shows how highly regarded he was by his contemporaries as Basle usually promoted from within, but they went out of the city to get Myconius. With the publication of the First Confession of Basle, he helped usher in the age of Confessions, and he helped in the formation of the First Helvetic Confession, which united all of Reformed Switzerland in 1536. Myconius along with Grynaeus were responsible for the Latin publication of the confession.
Myconius was Zwinglian in his view of the Supper. A view he defended from all detractors. But he was not a robot merely regurgitating the views of his friend Zwingli. Myconius held that Christ really did descend into hell, a view not commonly held by many reformers, and Myconius was eager to find common ground with the Lutherans. Much more so than the rest of the Swiss Reformers. But Myconius was never able to find that common ground. Nevertheless, he did not stop trying.
Oswald was also apparently a little bit of a hot head. Once he came home in Zurich to find that his house had been ransacked and his wife and child were very shaken by the experience. Oswald tracked the man, who was a Swiss mercenary soldier, and confronted him in the street. This of course ended badly for Oswald, who would recover from his injuries. In Basle he would also yell back at people who occasionally heckled him from the congregation. I guess times were a little different back then.
Myconius is forgotten because of his largely secondary role in the Reformation, never being the one who actually reformed any town (although neither did Calvin). Still, Myconius was a member of that original cabal or Swiss reformers. For that reason alone we ought to remember Oswald Myconius, an original reformer.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Yes, I think I will link these things together in this blog.
I have been extremely impressed by the blitzkreg of media opposition to Gov. Sarah Palin’s book. I have not read it, nor do I intend to, but people like David Brooks are attacking her as an anti-intellectual joke? Is she really a popular idiot or is perhaps David Brooks confused on what it actually means to be intellectual just like he is confused as to what it means to be conservative? I cannot answer for sure whether Gov. Palin is intellectual, but I can say for sure that David Brooks gets the definition wrong, but he is not the only one.
Take a look at Dr. James Jordan, famed Federal Vision pastor, in his article Closing of the Calvinistic Mind. In this article he tries to explain to us that there used to be Reformed Intellectuals, but no more. His list includes people like R.J. Rushdoony, father of Theonomy, and Herman Dooeyweerd, Christian Philosopher also involved in the movement. These are a sampling of the Christian Intellectuals Jordan refers to in his article. Evan Runner, Cornelius Van Til, also draw mention, and are also in some way associated with Theonomy or the Amsterdam School of Philosophy. Klaas Schilder garners a mention, Schilder has much in common with modern day Federal Vision. He seems to honor Bishop N.T Wright as an intellectual thinker in today’s world in other articles. The same question can be posed to Dr. Jordan as David Brooks, what makes an intellectual anyway?
It seems clear to me that the definition of both Brooks and Jordan of an intellectual is someone who broaches new ground and is an original thinker. Such a definition is probably largely accepted, but is it right? Should the church constantly be broaching new ground? Should we be rethinking justification by faith alone? How is this definition of an intellectual compatible with foundational established truths? And the answer comes back, it is not. Intellectualism then is anti-thetical to established truth. Do we really need Bishop Wright to re-think the incarnation and justification, or is that act of intellecutalism an act of denying truth? Do we need someone to re-think conservatism in politics or is re-thinking conservatism an inherently un-conservative act?
There is no doubt that David Brooks believes intellectualism involves coming up with new ideas and new solutions rather than spouting the same old cut tax formula. This is why Brooks believes the era of Reagan is dead and supports candidates like John McCain and supported Barak Obama. For Brooks supporting a major liberal like Barak Obama does not negate his self proclaimed “conservatism”. It is intellectual to support these other intellectuals and conservatism is redefined into Barak Obama’s liberalism. The same is true for the Federal Vision and N.T. Wright. They follow the intellectualism and end up redefining Justification and Election until it is really something closer to Romanism that Protestantism. That is what a good intellectual does in their system. Re-think, which means re-define.
I wish to suggest a different definition of an intellectual. A true intellectual is someone who can take difficult concepts and present them to the masses so that they are easily understood. Such an ability is indeed rare, but it shows great intellectual ability. To be able to explain things so that all can understand takes total grasp of the subject and a knowledge of language and others that ought to be what defines an intellectual. Ronald Reagan is a great example. He could communicate the truths of economics and politics in a manner that was memorable and easily understood. Let me give another example by citing someone who is oddly left off of Dr. Jordan’s list. Francis Schaeffer was at the height of his popularity in the 1970’s, the same time frame spoken of by Jordan, and he was also a conservative Presbyterian. Yet, Jordan leaves him off of the list of intellectuals? Why? Schaeffer had a larger following than Dooeyweerd and Rushdoony combined. But what Schaeffer did not do was break new ground. He did not promote the new idea of Theonomy, but rather communicated the basic truths of a Christian worldview so that many could understand.
Jordan calls people that fit my definition of intellectual "popularizers". They simply make a message popular, but they do not rethink the message or come up with a new message. And I surely agree that "popularizers" exist. But, should we be rethinking the gospel of Jesus Christ, should we be changing it? I think not.
Next installment: Anti-intellectual or intellectual: Does truth matter any more?
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
The 500th Anniversary of Calvin’s birth is almost over, but since it is not yet, I will continue on with the Forgotten Reformer path. But today I would just like to do something a little different. Calvin and Geneva are exalted, and they should be remembered fondly. However, other cities had just as much influence if not more. So today I would like to discuss the forgotten city of Basel.
Basel in my opinion ought to be remembered as a major center and birthplace of the Reformation. Let me just go through some of the things that happened in Basel and their influence over the Reformed Reformation.
Basel before the Reformation had such Romanist teachers as Wessel, Wittenbach, and Erasmus who helped foster a spirit of reform at the University of Basel. Wittenbach even taught the truth about salvation of Jesus Christ. Look at a list of the people that came to Basel. Ulrich Zwingli was there in 1496 for a year, but he returned again in 1502 until 1506. Also there during that time frame, were Leo Juda, future Reformer in Zurich, and Wolfgang Capito, future Reformer of Strassborg. The trio met and became good friends, and would continue to communicate for the rest of their lives. Casper Hedio was there as well receiving a doctorate in 1520. Oswald Myconius was educated at Basel, and was teaching there in 1514. Myconius left for Zurich before being recalled to replace Oecolampadius after his death in 1531.
John Oecolampadius was there in 1515 preaching in the Cathedral, and helping Erasmus with his Greek NT. He did briefly leave to join a monastery, but was back by 1522 to stay. Konrad Pelikan was there as a member and priest of the Fransiscan Order in Basel from at least 1519 to 1526.
Basel was a large printing center that was printing the works of Luther by 1518. It was Basel that published the Greek NT of Erasmus in 1516. They would of course be publishing works from the Swiss Reformers as well. These were able to be distributed in both Switzerland and Germany thanks to Basel’s unique local and history (it had only been a part of Switzerland for a few decades prior to the Reformation). Of course it would be in Basel that Calvin printed his first edition of the Institutes of Christian Religion. Not only was the printing business pushing the reformation, but so too was the famous painter, Hans Hlbein the Younger, who worked in Basel until 1526. It was in Basel he became Reformed. His brother Ambosius also lived in Basel.
Basel also gave respite to the fleeing Calvin in 1536 and before that the young Guillermo Farel after he was chased out of France. Some English Protestants would end up in Basel during the reign of Bloody Mary as well. Basel was a safe haven for Reformers.
Basel also helped kick off the Confessional movement in the Reformed Churches when in 1534 they put out the First Confession of Basel, which Oecolampadius had written before his death. This led to the First Helvetic Confession in 1536 that united all of Reformed Switzerland. The leaders of Basel at the time, Myconius and Simon Grynaeus, were contributers, and the confession was drawn up and printed in Basel.
Basel also stayed true to the Reformation (despite a brief period of Lutheranizing), and sent two delegates to Dort: Sebastian Beck and Wolfgang Meyer.
Thus, if we look at Basel we see a place where the Reformers all got their first taste of the Reformation. Where they were able to interconnect and "network" if you will. Zwingli, Oecolampadius, Capito, Hedio, Juda, Myconius, all got to know one another at Basel. Then they spread out and Reformed Switzerland and South Germany. It was a leading city of the Reformation in many ways, and it is so often forgotten today. If we had but a few Basel’s in America today, the Reformation would again turn into a fire that could consume an entire continent. Let us not forget the great work of the Reformation in Basel.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
I just finished reading A History of the Iconoclastic Controversy, and it is a very good book. It is not all straight history as he stops to examine the arguments from each side at each period in the conflict, of which he believes there are three. The author, Dr. Edward Martin, clearly favors the Iconophils (lovers of images), but overall is a fairly balanced view and is willing to admit when arguments are good or bad or unanswered. Obviously as someone who is against icons I have some quibbles with some of his review of the argumentation, but still the book is good. I learned a lot of history that I did not before, and Martin makes some excellent points about the increasing dependence of the iconophils on tradition as their authority. Martin even seems to argue that this reliance on tradition is what helps end theological thought in the Eastern Orthodox Church. And by comparing the arguments in the first round with the arguments of the last round, he makes a pretty good case.
The major failure of the book in my opinion is Martin’s removal of what was going on in the western church to the last two chapters of the book as if they were completely divorced, which is what he argues. I think he fails in his understanding of the Carolingian Church and its disregard of icons. He dismisses most of the rejection of the Second Council of Nicaea by the Franks as politically motivated, and I think that is fairly narrow. He also is too dismissive of Claudius of Turin, who he admits is basically a Protestant Reformer a few hundred years out of place. The fairly low rate reaction to Claudius needed to be explored more, and if he had put the goings on in the Western Church side by side with the Eastern Church, then it would have made a different picture. In fact, it probably would have made a picture of the church in the 8th and 9th century that had a majority of its members rejecting icons. Something that is not really taught in church history courses.
Still, that complaint aside, I think the book is good. It is well researched and a pretty easy read. I enjoyed the book and might look for more works by the Dr. Martin.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Election results of 2009 are in, and it is hard to read them as good for anyone. So some Republicans won governor's races. That is good for them, but NY23 does show that the Republican Party as a whole does not yet understand that conservatism is the way to go.
The real result to pay attention to is the election in Maine. A pro-marriage law passed by the legislature was overturned. That is good news, but only about 53% voted to overturn the law. The Homosexual agenda has gained a lot of ground. They are still having to force their "marriages" on people via courts, but this is not the sound rejection it used to be. This is a real message for the church. Without Christianity as a basis, marriage will fall.
We need to see what is going on. I commented a few posts ago about the homosexual show on Grey's Anatomy, but they also had shows on Heroes as well as Flash Forward at least. These shows probably put this in the shows probably to help influence the vote in Maine. There is no doubt that the homosexual agenda will win if Christianity does not step up.
Of course it may actually be a hate crime to vote against it now. This post may be a hate crime. But one has to obey God rather than men.
Friday, October 30, 2009
I posted earlier this year about what a great loss to boxing the retirement of Oscar De Lahoya had been. I have failed to mention the retirement of who I believe was the greatest pound for pound boxer of my time, Joe Calzaghe. He retired in early 2009, but I held out hope he would do what all boxers seem to do: unretire. I have given up hope.
Calzaghe retired undefeated with the vast majority of his wins coming at the Super Middleweight level. And while this is not the level that one typically thinks of when he thinks of great boxers, Calzaghe owned it, nay, dominated it. He retired at a clean 46-0 and this includes winning a unification bout with then undefeated Mikkel Kessler. It is still the only loss on Kessler’s record. This fight, which Calzaghe won comfortably is a perfect example of how great he was. Kessler, who had never been defeated, said this afterward: “his punches weren’t particularly hard but it was confusing when he hit you twenty times.” Calzaghe’s hands were the quickest I have seen for a man his size and that includes Mike Tyson. Calzaghe was amazing. In the Kessler bout, CompuBox registers 1,010 punches thrown by Calzaghe doubling his opponent.
The real shame is that the broader audience never really got to enjoy Calzaghe because it was not until the end of his career did he venture out of his weight class for the big money fights. I remember how much Bernard Hopkins was celebrated when he defended his title 20 times. Calzaghe defended his 21 times. Third highest total in history for any weight class. Oh yeah, Calzaghe beat Hopkins a few years ago as well. Hopkins was dominated by Calzaghe in the middle and late rounds hitting Hopkins (according to CompuBox) more than any other fighter Hopkins had ever faced. Calzaghe never got tired. Never.
Calzaghe ended his career by beating an other big name: Roy Jones Jr. He too was battered by Calzaghe.
Some complain that Calzaghe did not have those mega-fights. But that was because the American superstars would not travel to England, and Calzaghe focused on defending his own title rather than jumping weight classes for pay days. He was stripped of his title (IBF only) when he went for a pay day against Peter Manfedo Jr. I watched that fight and it was a joke. I do think the ref stopped it early and that Manfredo was not real hurt. But even after only two rounds there was no way to justify Manfredo being in the same ring with Calzaghe. Calzaghe beat all the big names that came to him. Not just Hopkins and Jones Jr., but also the ones that were big names until he crushed them. Jeff Lacy was a heavy favorite before he was dispatched. He beat former champions Chris Eubank, Charles Brewer, and Robin Reid, and while an amateur Calzaghe apparently beat Chris Byrd, who would go on to be the World Heavyweight Champion.
Calzaghe was just a great fighter. He threw punches, and then threw more punches, and probably threw some punches you missed because they were that fast. I like Joe, followed his career, and now I am going to miss him. So will boxing.
Monday, October 26, 2009
I have been reading Dr. Venema’s book entitled Children at the Lord’s Table, and I have to say I am quite disappointed. Venema is against them, but I do think he gives away too much, argues for the wrong thing, and therefore loses the debate. I have made no secret that I argue for Confirmation based Communion. Or in other words, communion based on instruction in the faith, understanding of the faith as well as a profession of faith. Venema merely argues for the last part: profession of faith. And in so doing he gives away too much. His opening chapter states that a soft padeocommunion (young children professing faith) is just a slight historic deviation, not something that is wrong. Rev. Wilson actually shows the silliness of this position, in effect it becomes merely an argument over age rather than principle. Thus, he is merely arguing about age with the padeocommunists, and I think Venema stands outside the Reformed tradition and biblical teaching on the point. What makes it worse is that Venema agrees, he just does not seem to notice that he does.
Let me illustrate. His third chapter on the Reformed Confessions states that “they [Reformed Confessions] also insist that such children, prior to their reception to the Table of the Lord, require instruction in the Christian faith in order that they might be prepared to receive properly the body and blood of Christ in the sacrament” (pg.27-28). Terrific! I agree. Admission to the table requires more than a profession of faith, it requires instruction (implied understanding) as well. This must be done before kids can partake. Venema then does a nice job of proving the confessions teach just that. Yet, Venema takes it all back when he states at the end of the chapter. “The purpose of catechetical instruction instruction of children of believing parents is to prepare them to make a credible confession of faith, which, in the traditional practice of Reformed churches, is effected by means of a “public profession of faith”.”(pg.48). No, that is not correct. People can make a credible profession of faith, and still be admitted to the table. Catechism was traditionally done prior to first communion. Calvin did it and Bucer did it (although Venema leaves both of those facts out of his history). Lutherans still do it, as do the churches of the RCUS. Even in history the Roman Catholics required Confirmation before First Communion. Traditionally catechism is not to get a public profession of faith, but to instruct them into a fuller understanding of the faith. Public Profession may have been done, or confirmations may have been done (which might be considered the same thing), but we cannot confuse a profession of faith with an instructed understanding of the faith.
Just in case you think I am misrepresenting Venema he states up front what his position is: “the traditional view, which emphasizes the necessity of a public profession of faith prior to the believer’s admission to the Table” (pg.2). All Venema is arguing for in the book is a public profession. It appears as the book goes on that he might want some instruction, but he consistently fails to make it a requirement. Yet, his historical research shows that it was always a central part. The Reformed Confessions argue for instruction prior to the admission to the table. Even the Scriptures argue for the admission being based on a knowledge that is deeper than just a profession of faith. I think I will comment further on this book as I have some theories as to why Venema fails to put the addition of the instruction in his requirements. But let us save that for another post.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
If you have not seen this disturbing news, you might want to take a look at it. Apparently Anglicans are actually thinking about taking the Vatican up on their offer. And what makes it depressing is that it is the conservative Anglicans that are thinking about it. If you had not heard, Pope Benedict made some sort of offer to the Anglicans that they could join the Roman fold if they were inclined to leave the Anglican communion, and they would be given a special status such as ruled by Anglican bishops, and able to teach at Anglican seminaries. I don’t know all the details such would they have to accept papal claims, but I assumed the offer was just an attempt to peal away one or two Anglo-Catholics. However, it appears as if it might peal away the African conservative base of the Anglican Church.
It is another potent reminder that the Anglican Reformation was not really the same as the Reformed Reformation and its path since then has also been different. It also should remind us that being right on social issues like abortion and homosexuality does not equal being sound on theology in general or even in the basics of salvation. I am not sure what Bishop Akinola is pondering about this offer. Reject it, hand it back to the Romanist heretic on the papal throne and go on about your day. The mere fact he considers it does not speak well for him.
Monday, October 19, 2009
It is becoming increasingly obvious that the world hates Christianity. The attacks upon it grow every day and the attempts to paint Christians as wild eyed crazy people continue as well. Much like the Romans like to portray Christians as the arsonists of Rome or as cannibals to justify their torture and death.
For example, the gay agenda in Hollywood needs no explanation. Last Thursday night the ABC show Grey’s Anatomy put on a full blown homosexual hit piece. They included fun lines to chant at rallies like "You can’t pray away the gay." As well as more subtle clues like the lesbian character feuding with her father who told her she was going to hell. The father quoted OT verses (except one from Romans) which he read off of note cards while the lesbian character quoted Jesus from memory. Most of the quotes were interestingly enough Beattitudes from Matthew 5 including "Blessed are the Pure in Heart" implying homosexual behavior is okay because their motives are pure and "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake" implying two false ideas: that gays are persecuted and that their behavior is righteous. One talk by a patriotic lesbian soon sets the father straight (no pun intended) and he accepts the homosexual behavior. A clear attack on Christianity by the homosexual lobby there.
But even more disturbing than the constant attacks by Hollywood are the ones where people discuss Christianity in the guise of Christianity itself. Jon Meacham, the lefts favorite Christian (although he has yet to argue for Christianity) has helped start an "On Faith" section of the Washington Post Web Site. It takes on the convergence of Faith and Politics and always comes out on the side of anti-Christian hatred even though it supposedly takes in a number of views. Take for example the recent promotion of a Hate Crimes Law the Democrats are likely to push through. The author assures us that there is no reason to fear for a pastor’s right to proclaim homosexuality a sin, despite the mounting evidence of pastors in jail under similar laws in Canada and Europe. The bigger problem is not pastors, but Christians in general. Will they still have the right if they are not protected by a ministerial degree and a pulpit? The even broader question that intersects Faith and Politics is "Can the Government criminalize thought, and also make itself the knower of thoughts and motives?" Is that not something that belongs to God alone? Of course those issues are not brought up because then the Hate Crime bill would be defeated.
Check out the recent list of posts on the the controversy about Swine Flu Vaccine. I will be up front and state that I will not vaccinate my kids because I think the risks are worse than the reward. Why bother for such a non-deadly virus. Still note the supposed diversity of views. Not a single article saying that it is okay to religiously object to vaccines. Even the one that sounds like it favors respecting individual rights and choices contains the idea that society has a right to force you if its wants to do so. The forum also has an article condemning people like me as sinners for not vaccinating. As well as the more disturbing article that argues to put our trust in science. Not to mention the obligatory post that declares Universal Health Care a moral duty.
This shows a great misunderstanding of Christianity and its role in life. What is worse is that these people are usually related to the Christian Church in someway (except the post on Universal Health Care which was written by a wiccan). This is a fairly clear effort by the Washington Post to get liberal pastors to teach a perverted view of Christianity.
Take a look at a more serious topic than vaccines, the recent political protests. Here a Mormon pastor remind us we are the problem, and that shrill and sarcastic language is wrong. Obviously then the mormon church has a problem with Jesus calling the Pharisees a brood of vipers and white washed tombs. The President of Chicago Seminary let us know our anger lies in racism of course as does a UCC pastor and a Baptist pastor says it is not only racism, but unchristian to disagree with the President. That is about as much as I can take. The point is that this forum despite allowing Cal Thomas to occassional participate is set up to attack Christians, and does not provide the majority of Christians with a voice. Only the liberals are allowed in. Why? So that the next generation and the current one can learn that Christianity is only okay if it is liberal and has removed the fundamental point of Christianty: That Jesus is Lord and Savior and we can serve no other. Because if that attitude were allowed onto the On Faith forum, people would actually have to consider that there is a higher authority and maybe just maybe we will have to follow Him, even in calling sin, sin. And even if it means opposing liberal ideas at the political level. Such a Christianity cannot be tolerated, even in a forum dedicated to tolerance.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Doug Wilson is at it again. In a recent post about the Lord’s Supper he illustrates what is wrong with his view of the Supper.
First, Matthew 23:25-26 is not talking about the Supper. Thus, to apply this to the supper just because it mentions the word cup seems wrong headed.
Second, this sentence is just plain wrong. "When the Lord’s Supper is observed rightly, what is on the inside of the cup? It is the blood of Christ, the blood that cleanses from all sin."
It is not the blood of Jesus on the inside of the cup. It is wine. Unless one believes in transubstantiation it is always wine on the inside of the cup. The wine symbolizes the blood, but it is still wine. He is right that only the blood cleans us from sin, but he specifically states that if the Supper is rightly observed that the inside of the cup is blood on the body is on the platter. This is Romanism, and after over a thousand years it is still wrong.
Third, he contradicts himself in this next paragraph.
"Cleansing the inside of the cup is not accomplished by introspection. Cleansing the platter is not brought about by self-accusation. Sinners can only be cleansed because Christ their Savior died—and at this meal, we are confronted with that reality. Christ bled. Christ was broken. This broken bread cleanses the platter. This shed blood cleanses the cup. Look to that reality and respond in faith."
Note in this paragraph he says it is only the reality of the death of Christ that makes us clean. And that reality is not in our cup (admitting that the cup is only wine). That is much better, but does contradict what he said in the paragraph right before. He also seems to be confused about the benefit in the meal. He wants to deny it is benefit from mental activity, so he states it is not from introspection. Then he admits the benefit is only found in looking to Jesus, which is not actually in the cup. Thus, benefit can only be derived from a mental activity, the one of faith. "Look to that reality and respond in faith" is what the meal is supposed to do. Remind us the death of Christ. In faith, we can be strengthened through our remembrance of Him. But, the whole point of this post by Wilson is to say what is inside the cup cleans us. That cannot fit with "look to that reality and respond in faith."
Wilson tries to have it both ways in this post. That is part of the problem with Rev. Wilson. He just wants it both ways. But two opposites cannot both be true.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Newsweek magazine has a throw away page on the back of their most recent issue that just gives stats. The question is posed whether or not Russia was better under communism or not. Clearly the collector of the stats believes Russia was better off under communism. I do not remember all the stats, but they included things like population (higher under Communism), life expectancy (insignificantly higher under Communism), and land in agricultural use as well as forest land (both higher under Communism). It also contained a few more serious stats like number of hospitals, which was almost twice as high under Communism. Reported crimes (lower under Communism) and diseases diagnosed (lower under Communism). I can argue against Russia being better off today based solely on these stats. For instance, I could point out that "reported" crimes are not an actual measure of crimes, and the fact that they are higher may show people trust the police more now than under the Red years. I could argue that fewer hospitals yet higher disease diagnoses probably points to a better health care system. But that misses the point, just like Newsweek always does. The point is this:
Communism is a worldview, a philosophical outlook, not just an economic system.
You cannot have the economic system without the accompanying worldview. This is why America stood against Communism for so long. It was not that we thought some guys in Russia ought to be able to hold their own farms. No. It is that Communism is a dangerous, deadly worldview that seeks to turn the world upside down in all areas, not just economics. Does anyone really think that Eisenhower added the phrase "under God" to the pledge of allegiance because he favored the Free Market? Clearly it is because he knew Communism was against all that is good and holy in the world, including the existence of God. With religion as an "opiate" and God as non-existent, a new basis for order must be found. Evil was not violating God’s law (in communism), but evil becomes materialism. Material goods shape ideas is a basic point of Marx. Thus, the removal of materialism is the way to promote good and eliminate evil. Only the state has the ability to do this and stop this materialism since any individual with material goods (means of production or wealth) is necessarily corrupted by them. Even in the Declaration of Independence our individual rights are linked to our Creator. Communism removes the creator, the individual rights follow the Creator and are removed. And with no measure of good or evil accept materialism and utilitarianism it is no surprise that blood revolution is promoted as an acceptable means to achieve these goals. It is not a surprise then that "to make an omlete you have to break a few eggs" or "one death is a tragedy but 10,000 is a statistic." The economics of collectivism is simply the result of the broader worldview. One that led to the slaughter of countless thousands if not millions.
Newsweek may have found that people on average live less than half a year longer. But does that really mean Russia was better off when a word spoken against the state could lead to one "disappearing" and never returning. Does Newsweek really think the mass murder committed by Stalin and others is better than what they have now? Such an argument is a moral outrage. Our country was founded on Christian belief whether Meacham likes it or not. Our country is founded on "Give me liberty or Give me death." But Newsweek apparently would trade a lifetime of liberty for a few more months to live. And that is just an outright shame.
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
I wanted to read Dr. Venema’s book Children at the Lord’s Table. So I went on Interlibrary Loan and typed in the title of the book. Silly me, I did realize that there were multiple books by the same title. I ended up getting the same titled book, but by a Disciples of Christ minister named John T. Hinant. And while I still plan to read Dr. Venema’s book, I am glad that I made the mistake. Hinant’s book was fascinating for several reasons even though I disagreed with his conclusions. Hinant is in favor of infants and children at the table despite the fact that the Disciples of Christ is an ‘adult only baptism’ church. I had no idea how far spread this movement had become until I read this book. Hinant argues that the right order of events is communion-confirmation-baptism. Hinant’s book is also interesting because it grew out of a poll by mail he conducted about the subject. Apparently communing unbaptized children is a fairly regular practice despite the fact that it is not supposed to be in the Disciples churches. Hinant also briefly touches on one major fact that I think is missing from the Presbyterian-Reformed debate and that is the confirmation aspect.
I do think that Hinant overstates the historical evidence for Paedo-Communion (PC). He fails to note the seeming objections of Origen, Clement of Alexandria as well as the Didascalia. He then also just sweeps out of hand the idea that Cyprian’s adherence to the practice might not be universal. Most of the rest of his historical proof is about young children, but clearly not infants. He then admits that as Confirmation was moved away from the moment of baptism so too did the taking of communion move away from baptism. Confirmation was necessary. Hinant called this a problem for Protestants who did not want to make Confirmation a sacrament since it barred access to a sacrament.
One other point that seemed to be the case in some of the quotes about infant communion is that they were linked to a reading of John 6 that required the eating of the flesh to be saved. Infant communion is inextricably linked to the idea that communion is necessary for salvation. Clearly the ancients who did adhere to this idea viewed it as necessary for eternal life that is why infants are argued for then and it is still the reason now. Sacramentalism is a prerequisite for the PC position.
Some of the quotes made me wonder if they administered the sacrament once to infants to get them “saved”, but was the communing continued? It was hard to tell from a lot of the quotes.
It was an educational book to see adult baptism only denominations allowing young children and infants to the Table. I still disagree with his book, but it was interesting to
Friday, September 25, 2009
Sometimes it is all about asking the right questions.
I read the Newsweek article about Is Your Baby Racist (I read the print version I don’t know if the on-line one is different). Since Newsweek is the worst magazine of all time, I fully expected to hate this article and get cranky about it. However, after reading it I thought to myself "People did not know this already?" The answer to the question is "Yes, your baby is racist". That fits perfectly with a Biblical worldview. So, I am not sure why the fuss from conservatives. Children are born sinners and guess what, they are born selfish. The article talks of one study where kids are randomly given different color shirts. They play together with out caring about the shirt color but at the end of the day they are asked which shirt color has smarter people and looks better and the like. Guess what? They think their own color shirt was better! Racism is nothing more than a way to make yourself look good. It is a way to proclaim yourself better and superior. Selfishness and self-centeredness. Kids are born that way. One should expect it. Yet, this Newsweek guy was floored by such findings. He seemed even more floored by the idea that a diverse classroom did not fix the problem. Kids need to be taught by their parents. Parents need to tell kids that all are equal. I have a hard time believing that is a shocker, but it apparently is.
The problem is not in the article or its findings or it solution to discuss racism in the family. The problem in the article was that the guy asked all the wrong questions? Apparently these studies show that a diverse class room does not help kids get over racism. But did the article ask or discuss this fatal blow to Affirmative Action, which often argues a diverse college or classroom is beneficial? Of course not. More importantly, the Newsweek reported is amazed that so many parents do not want to discuss race and dropped out of the study because they were in the group that had to ask follow-up questions about race. Did he ask why race is such a touchy topic in America? No. Not at all.
The Huffington Post displayed the same sort of ignorance when they had an article about NBC Nightly News growing in viewership. The article starts, "While the conventional wisdom says the evening news is dying, "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams" actually grew year-over-year.” The article then goes to give the numbers. NBC apparently added 88,000 viewers while CBS lost 103,000 and ABC lost 363,000. The article is short but clearly praising NBC. However, when the math is done conventional wisdom is right, the news is dying. It lost almost 400,000 viewers in one year. Does the article ask why CBS and ABC lost viewers? No. Does anyone say that maybe the decline in CBS viewers is because they have a female anchor? ABC has announced one as well? Is it discussed? Of course not. People are not asking any questions and just deciding what they want to decide. Honest thinking is gone.
But asking the wrong question is what man does best. Reading the last week of Jesus’s life in Mark (beginning in chapter 11) one cannot help but see all of the wrong headed questions asked by all sorts of people. After 3 years of Jesus healing and preaching and teaching the Pharisees run up and ask "By what authority are you doing these things" (verse 28)? They had missed the greater point. They had missed that Jesus was the Messiah. They are still asking their attack questions. So Jesus asks a question back and they do not like either answer so they just confess ignorance. Jesus tells them a parable that they can see is about them, but they fail to ask questions like "How can we repent?" Or "How can we avoid rejecting the stone?" Instead they try to arrest Him. The Sadducees are next and they try to ask a trick question to trap Jesus about the resurrection, but Jesus rebukes them. A lawyer asks about which is the greatest commandment, a question that is missing the point completely. Although this one has a happy ending as in 12:32 the lawyer comes around and sees Jesus is right and that his own question was wrong. You can see this same epidemic of wrong headed questions no matter which gospel you read. John has Pilate asking questions that miss everything, and most of these same stories are related in Matthew and Luke too.
The Huffington Post’s inability to do basic math and Newsweek’s inability to ask the questions brought up on the opening page of the article are just minor examples. Society is missing the deeper questions. If racism is a problem that we would like to see erased, how can we show our kids racism is wrong? What basis can we give for our equality? Do you see the deeper question now? Do you see the deeper problem that society has made for itself. Evolution cannot be a basis for equality. In fact, evolution has historically been the basis for genocide. There is only one basis for equality and that is that we are all created by God and made in His image. That is after all what the Declaration of Independence says. "All men are created equal and endowed by their Creator certain inalienable rights." No creator, no equality, and no rights. This basic truth stands at the heart of the questions that should have been asked in the Newsweek article. And the answer has been taught to little kids in church for decades. "Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world."
When you ask the right questions, the answers are easy. When you ask the wrong questions, then the answers will always be wrong too.
Monday, September 14, 2009
This will be a blog about serious issues and not sports, but bare with me. Also watch the videos. It will help.
There has been a rash lately of out of control actions. Everything from the "You Lie" yell during a Presidential speech to shouting matches at Town Hall meetings. But it is hardly contained within the political realm. This out of control behavior is everywhere. Just look at the world of sports. I will only use things that have happened in the last month. Remember most kids look up to sports heroes and watch sports center.
After a tough loss to Boise State, more than a little unsportsman like conduct occurred. A Boise Player taunted after the game and was then decked with a quick jab.
Serena Williams threw a temper tantrum during her loss that including threats of physical violence toward the officials. Not pictured is where she returns to yell again and losses the match on a point penalty. It was a penalty and not a warning because she had already been warned when she smashed her racket at the end of the first set.
LeBron James refuses to shake hands (by the way pay no attention to the word bubbles it was the only video I could find) after a loss. Not only that but what is worse is that he continues to defend the act till this day.
And just to show it is not all about sports, take a look at Kanye West interrupting an award to someone else (Talyor Swift I think). This is something I have never even heard of before. But it happened.
These are just a few examples. I list them because they get video taped. They are a nice insight into our culture today. We are a selfish people. Things don’t go our way, we now just act out, sort of like a three year old throwing a tantrum. This is not going to go away. In fact we ought to expect it to grow. Selfishness is rampant and will dominate lots of things from now on.
Why now? Well, it is hard to admit it, but I think we have to face the fact that society is breaking down from a moral standpoint. Selfishness is no longer a vice, but rather it is a virtue in many circles. Gone are the days when other people could be valued or have decent points. Now if you disagree with the Republicans you are a socialist and if you disagree with the Democrats you are a racist. Gone are the days when people shake hands after losing and say good game, go the press conference later and say, "They beat us." Now is the time of excuses. Nothing can shatter our image of ourselves as the best and the most important.
This is the climate that the church now faces. Christianity of course carries a message that is not about self, has little tolerance for self-image, and condemns selfishness as a sin. You might can imagine the reaction that the church will be getting. We are seeing seeds of it now in the reception of Proposition 8 in California and in movies like Religulous with Bill Maher.
As a society I am not sure we cannot ignore the rising tide of selfish blowups, but the society as a whole will not be able to solve the problem. This is because the answer is only found the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Last nights Presidential speech was the most entertaining in sometime. I have to admit I am glad I watched it. It is not everyday that a Congressman shouts "You lie" at the President. Of course the media is full of condemnation for Congressman Wilson’s outburst. And it is a sign that our nation is breaking down as hostilities build up between liberals and conservatives. But was his outburst wrong?
Clearly, it is a break in protocol. It is not normal to yell during someone else’s speech. But that protocol has a history of being violated as well. It is not like a whole gaggle of Democrats did not do the same thing to President Bush when he wanted to reform Social Security. But maybe you are thinking that yelling “no” and hissing and booing is not the same thing as saying "you lie", and it is the words that make a big problem. Well, then I hope you are condemning President Obama as well. He had just finished calling everyone who had ever argued that death panels existed liars, in what was pretty clearly a reference to Sarah Palin. But it was also broad enough to encompass everyone who ever thought death panels are in the bill and covering of illegal aliens. He would go on to attack people who think that abortion is in the bill.
Here is the real problem. President Obama started the name calling and frankly was lying to the American public or at least refusing to engage in discussion while shaking his fingers at others for not engaging. Gov. Palin’s article makes a decent case that death panels are in the bill and does so by quoting President Obama himself and the bill before Congress. The Democrats also defeated amendments to the bill that would have required proof of citizenship to get the benefits of the bill. The only reason to defeat the amendments is to cover illegal aliens. It is like laying a table full of cookies before young kids and telling them not to eat and then walking off. You can say the kids aren’t eating the cookies, but you really have no way to stop them. So, President Obama was lying or has no idea what he is talking about.
And just so the President is clear, abortion is in the bill. The Democrats are refusing to attach the Hyde Amendment to the bill that prohibits federal funds from going to abortions. This has been documented as well
So, the question becomes does Congress have to sit an listen to a President tell lies? Do they have to sit an listen to a President tell them that they are liars while he does nothing but lie? Are there times in a nation’s history where such outbursts might actually be the best thing for the country? I am not sure I would have done it, but I don’t actually have much of a problem with it. Hard times call for hard words.
And even those it is a fictional portrayal, someone really needs to say this stuff to the President. This video made me laugh..
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Since there have been some complaints about my spending too much time on sports, I have decided to make a blog for my rambling thoughts on the Pittsburgh Pirates. It is up and running. Feel free to take a look. And for those of you who do not care about the Pirates:
a) shame on you
b) you can now expect more regular material here on this blog
Hope you enjoy.
Sunday, September 06, 2009
Long time readers of this blog know that I have an intense dislike for Newsweek. Their liberal bias is annoying of course, but most of the dislike comes from Jon Meacham, who is somehow respected as an expert. His ignorance and distortion is appalling.
Recently on the Charlie Rose show, Jon Meacham said that Ted Kennedy was in the top three senators of all time. Specifically, Meacham said:
One of the two or three senators who will be remembered forever. Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, Ted Kennedy. I think that it gets -- there's quite a drop-off there, quite a falling-off there, as Hamlet would say.
Now, usually Clay and Webster are counted as two of the three best of all time. John C. Calhoun is the other member of the legendary Trio. According to Meacham, Calhoun will not be remembered and is a far drop off from Ted Kennedy. Now even if you disagree with Calhoun's take on Nullification, it really ought to be admitted as a powerful force in American history for that alone. Disregarding all of that Calhoun still helped bring an end to the crisis in South Carolina averting a Civil War in 1830. Calhoun did a great many things as a Senator that put him far above Ted Kennedy. Speeches that are forever remembered. In fact, Webster would probably not be remembered if it were not for his sparing with Calhoun.
What does Meacham think of other great senators like Stephen Douglas? Surely the Lincoln-Douglas debates ought to be remembered in our nations history? Douglas by the way won those if you count who won the actual senate seat. Douglas was tied to Popular Sovereignty, which again directed the country's future. Douglas helped Clay come up with the Compromise of 1850, which put off the Civil War for another decade and got California into the Union as a Free State, helped New Mexico become a state with all of its current territory, and a few other things too.
And what about William Seward? He was considered the front runner for the Republican Nomination for President in 1860 because of his long time work against slavery in the Senate. Or Thomas Hart Benton, who was leading man during his time, and even had a gun drawn on him during debate in the Senate once? Charles Sumner and Benjamin Wade led the Radical Republicans in the Senate. Surely their influence on the history of America ought to have some sway over Meacham's choices. Are they really such a far drop off to the author of the Minimum Wage Bill and the disastrous No Child Left Behind Policy?
Maybe Meacham thinks that bringing down a Supreme Court Nominee like Robert Bork with that memorable speech about Bork's America puts him up in the upper crust of Senators. But then would that not make John Randolph even higher since his "Black Dan" speech helped bring down a President.
Kennedy was around for some monumental legislation. I think he was in for the end of the Civil Rights stuff, but he was hardly a leader in that cause. Heck, even Gerald Ford was more beloved as a Senator than Kennedy. So much so the Senate almost asked him to be the VP for Nixon.
Such a bold statement by Meacham demands defense . . . or more likely scorn for the stupidity that it is.
Saturday, September 05, 2009
This controversy surrounding President Obama speaking to the children at school through an address directed at them has greatly disappointed me. This ought to have been a very valuable discussion about the very nature of education and the proper role of the federal government in it, but it has only resulted in more anger on both sides. I do believe a controversy ought to have occurred because legitimate issues are at stake. Let us take a look at a few of the things that ought to have been discussed, but have not been.
1. Education what is it? Is it indoctrination? I actually think it is. The liberals pretend it is not, but they know it is. And some conservatives think it is not, but do not seem to know what it is. Many are mad because Obama is trying to indoctrinate their children. Liberals are enjoying throwing out the “Just Say No” campaign launched by Nancy Reagan. They ask was that indoctrination, and the conservatives do not answer. Clearly just from the name it is indoctrination. People should not be ashamed of it. The answer the conservative should have given was yes it was, but both sides of the aisle agreed on it. It was agreed upon indoctrination. It is clear that not everyone believes education is really indoctrination, but this is part of the discussion we ought to be having. Is education indoctrination? Is it stuff facts into kids? What exactly is it? Once that question has been answered then we have more a basis to move forward with whether or not Presidents ought to participate in it.
2. Parents have a right to believe something inappropriate is going to happen. After all, President Obama is a politician. When was the last time they kept even 40% of their campaign promises? He can promise all he wants that he will just say "stay in school", but only a fool should believe him. This is the same party that just used Ted Kennedy’s funeral to have children pray for universal health care. Inappropriate is the only thing these people know.
3. Legal issues. No one is really objecting to the speech on legal grounds, but they probably ought to. It should at least be covered. Is using tax payer dollars from the Department of Education to speak to the kids legal? Is it ethical? Is this paid political advertising and are there not equal time rules that might apply if it is? The Democrats thought so when President George H. W. Bush did this same thing.
4. Who controls education? This is another factor that needs to be discussed. Is it the parents or the government? Right now it is technically the parents. Courts have consistently ruled parents have rights over their children, common law supports it, and the fact local school boards run school districts reinforces it. The feds have no real rights here. But that is not how the liberals see it. They are using this as a time to attack parents and parents know it. Just listen to John Harwood. He thinks parents are too stupid to do it right. But notice also the implied point in his argument. "Of course the President ought to be allowed to speak to the kids, he is the President of the United States?" That is a fundamental error. The President of the United States does not have rights over children in that country. Parents do. But President Obama is not asking. He is not even allowing a permission slip option. If the Democrats had come to the speech with that mindset, I think a lot of this would have been avoided. People can inherently sense the challenge to parental authority in the tact being taken by the Dems on this one.
5. Ignorance. Really if one believes that the giving out of facts is what makes education then President Obama should not be anywhere near a school. I mean his misunderstanding of economics, lack of adherence or knowledge of the Constitution aside (VP Biden does not even know where the VP is mentioned in the Constitution – see his debate performance), it still has to be admitted that President Obama thinks Islamic nations invented the compass. This is so provable false that it makes my head hurt. That is just one of the blatant factual inaccuracies in his Cario Speech. For those who think education is about facts, then these should cause extreme worry.
6. Obvious Self-Centered behavior in the past. When the material had something in it about helping the President, and not about serving the country people had a right to get angry. It is not like President Obama does not have a long history of having people Pledge Allegience to him rather than the country.
In the end, this country could benefit a lot from a frank discussion about the nature of education. Instead it is just a name calling festival. Nothing good will come of this. And that is the real shame here.
Monday, August 31, 2009
The September Call ups for baseball are upon us. Usually it is a time for losing teams to get a glimpse of next year, but not so this year with the Pirates. The reason appears to be the current try-outs they have going on at the Major League Level. Primarily Lastings Milledge as well as Andy LaRoche and Steve Pierce. Charlie Morton pitching may also be trying out for the future.
The Pirates have only announced that they are calling up pitcher Daniel McCutchen, who will be starting on Sunday, and recent trade aquisition Jeff Clement. It is also known that the Pirates will also bring back Donnie Veal from the DL at that time as well. He is a Rule 5 pitcher who cannot go to the minors without the Pirates losing rights to him. One can also assume that if Jeff Karstens is able to get off the DL he will also return to the major league team. The other players one can only speculate at this time.
What we do know is who you are not going to see. You will not see Jose Tabata, who will be in the Arizona Fall League this year. You will not see Pedro Alvarez, which basically assures he will start off next year in Triple A. You will not see Brad Lincoln as a pitcher. These three guys have the potential to have a huge impact on next year's team although all three may start off in Triple A.
The only other players you are likely to see in Pittsburgh are Robinson Diaz, who filled in nicely while Doumit was hurt, and a few pitchers. Jose Ascino will probably get a call up, and maybe one or two more pitchers to help out in the pen. Virgil Vasquez, Jeff Suez, and Jon Meloan are the nominees. However, they will not all come and it is possible that none of them will come. The only real hope is that Neil Walker, the long expected Third baseman might get a call up. He had another lack luster year at Triple A, but is on a massive hot streak right now.
So Pirate fans will have to watch Jeff Clement as the only call up with a future for the Pirates. How well he does these last few weeks will determine whether he heads into the off season with the first base job or whether Steve Pierce is able to hold on to it. Milledge is improving at the big league level, but will he be able to hold off Jose Tabata for a starting spot in next years outfield? The Pirates are going to give him every plate appearance they can to judge him. Andy LaRoche too is on a ticker. Alvarez will probably follow the path of Andrew McCutchen. He will be ready right out of spring training, but will play Triple A for a few months to get his confidence high and maybe allow the Pirates to work a trade. This does not mean LaRoche is done in Pittsburgh. His glove has impressed, and a move to second could be in his future. How he hits in the next few weeks will impact their thinking on that one. As well as how Neil Walker plays if he is on the team. Neil could be the back up third baseman since he has more power than Andy.
Even the bullpen is not going to be the same next year. Dumatrait will probably get some starts down the stretch, which could be interesting. Expect Veal and Ascino to be in Triple A next year trying to make it as starters. Daniel McCutchen will be fighitng for the two open starter positions. So will Dumatrait. I guess since we are talking about Morton is fighting for one of those spots as well. Anyone else the Pirates bring up might have an outside shot at making next year's bullpen, but it will be an outside shot.
I guess in the end I am worried about whether the Pirate management is going to play to win next year. They have the talent in the organization now (with the exception of the pen) to make a push for at least an NL Central Title. I am just afraid they are going to stick it all in Triple A until it is too late.
Friday, August 28, 2009
I think it should be noted that Ted Kennedy is the Kennedy that the liberal media idolizes the most. When they talk about the Kennedys they are talking about Ted and his ilk. The people of the country mostly think of John Kennedy, the President, and Robert, the younger brother. Ted is the liberal that the media adores. President Kennedy and Robert are both modern day embarrassments to the Liberal agenda. Sure they are still trotted out as Democrats from time to time, but they would be run out of the modern Democratic Party and Ted Kennedy betrayed most of what his family stood for.
Ted was a wildly liberal man. His legislation has been disastrous. A few years after his minimum wage hike we have high unemployment, just as the detractors of his bill said would happen. No Child Left Behind is a disaster of epic proportions. I think he may have helped out on the AMBER Alert system, but other than that, just about everything he has done has blown up. He is a model liberal because it is his hate that now fuels politics. Before Ted Kennedy’s attacks on Robert Bork the atmosphere in Washington was different. Ted’s attacks from the floor were often just as weird and hate filled, but more often than not they were stumbling ramblings. Ted was not a thinker, and that too is often a trait of the modern liberal. Action is more important than outcome and intentions are better than logic.
John and Robert were by no means conservative, and liked a bigger government to be sure, but they were not like Ted in the least. John cut taxes, and unthinkable thing for liberals. John and Robert were both stridently anti-communism. John invaded Cuba because Cuba was Communist and was willing to go to war against the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Robert worked for Senator McCarthur during the Age of McCarthism. John did not vote to censure McCarthy and Robert once walked out of an event where McCathy was being attacked. Ted on the other hand tried to transform America into what his brothers hated, a Communist Country. Ted loved tax hikes and is against military action whenever possible.
As we remember Ted Kennedy let us not forget the lesson of Chappaquiddick: Ted believed he was more important than anything else. He left Mary Jo to die in an air bubble in the back of the car where she probably suffocated rather than drowned. He did not contact the police, left the scene of an accident, slept off his booze before calling his lawyer. If anyone else in the country would have done that they would have been in jail. Ask Congressman and Governor Janklow. Yet, Ted was let off and continued his term in the Senate. The strange people of Massachusetts re-elected him over and over.
The left today thinks of Chappaquiddick and is sad because it ruined Ted’s political hopes of becoming President. We ought to think of Chappaquick and think of how it ended one girls life and ruined people’s faith in the justice system.
I just find all of this media coverage of the Kennedy family legacy as interesting. Ted did not stand in the tradition of the Kennedy’s. His pro-communism, pro-abortion, and pro-taxes stance puts him at odds with John, Robert, and Eunice Shriver who are the reason there is a Kennedy legacy. Why on earth are people not reporting on that angle of this story.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
John Armstrong is arguing on his blog that modern day Presbyterian and Reformed believers are too schismatic and not looking to the whole body of Christ enough. In one respect he is right. We all have tendencies to make mistakes and to think too much of ourselves. To deny that this is a bent to sin among the Presbyterian and Reformed would be foolish. But that does not mean that Rev. Armstrong is right. In fact, he is provably wrong in his recent series of posts.
What has Rev. Armstrong so upset is that a Presbyterian or Reformed pastor wrote a letter to man who had left the Protestant church for an Eastern Orthodox church and in that letter stated that the man had left the Christian Faith. This would indicate that Rev. Armstrong believes the Eastern Orthodox Church part of the Body of Christ and the Christian Faith. Whatever Armstrong believes the essentials of the Christian Faith, the EO church has them. Armstrong then goes on in his next post to make the claim that John Calvin was on his side. The third post, after noting Calvin’s desire to be unified despite disagreement on non-essentials, goes on to note that Calvin tried to get meetings with a goal of unity with Lutherans and even have a meeting with Romanists in Poissy in 1561, after Trent. For some reason Armstrong believes these facts make his case. Let me show the obvious as to why the do not.
I agree that Calvin thinks only essentials should divide the Christian Church. In non-essentials liberty. Fair enough. Now, Calvin tried to hold talks with even Romanists to seek unity. A grant the point. But that should make it clear that Calvin clearly thought that Lutheranism and Romanism were not worthy to unify with now. Calvin left the Romanist church after all. And if he had thought he could unify with the Lutherans, he probably would have done it. Why need to have talks to work things out if nothing stands in the way. Which means Calvin clearly thought them deficient in some “essential” of the Christian faith. The same can be said of the Anabaptists. Calvin thought them truly deficient or he would have unified with them.
What is the real difference between the Romanist that Calvin so clearly thought were outside of the Christian pale and deficient in essentials? The Eastern Orthodox do not submit to the Pope and reject that the Holy Spirit comes from Christ. It is highly likely that Calvin would have also rejected union with them and viewed them as deficient in essentials. After all, Calvin must have known of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and yet he did not join them. He rejected union with them as well. So, Armstrong seems to have proven the letter stating that the Eastern Orthodox convert had "left the Christian Faith" is exactly what Calvin would have written.
I am sure that Armstrong is not quite done, but I am waiting for him to make an argument that helps his cause. It will be interesting to see what exactly the "essentials" of the Faith are.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Supreme Conflict by Jan Greenburg is an excellent book. It is a great look at all the major events in the life of the Supreme Court from the Reagan Administration to the appointment of Samuel Alito. Greenburg has a lot of inside information that really gives one an inside look. I highly recommend this book if you are interested with one word of caution. You will probably lose a lot of respect for the Supreme Court.
Greenburg keeps her personal views out of this book, which is a nice change of pace. But if I were guessing I think she favors those on the court who moderate it, and as she describes it "have no overarching judicial philosophy." Those include O'Conner, Kennedy, and Souter. The book really makes O'Conner look awful, but clearly it was on accident. The book starts with a glowing account of O'Conner, but it is later revealed that she voted conservative the first few years because Justice Blackman upset her with a caustic remark during conference. Then she began to vote liberal when Scalia was too rough on her during a written dissent. Of course this does not bode well for the first female on the court, but that is never brought up. O'Conner's hypocrisy is not mentioned either as she actually mentioned Justice Thomas by name over a dozen times in one opinion from the court. That was the sort of behavior that she found unacceptable if it was directed at her. The insights this book gives into the thinking of each justice and the work of the court is great, but you will soon realize the court is not such a great place after all.
Holy War by Karen Armstrong, author of A History of God, is absolutely awful. Avoid it at all costs. Armstrong starts off the book by thoroughly demonstrating she knows nothing about Christainity, Islam, or Judaism. Armstrong breaks her own back trying to make Islam into religion of peace. A few examples are worth noting. Armstrong thinks that Mohammed led an unarmed group of people from Medina to Mecca because their "swords were sheathed". Who cares a sword that is not sheathed and does that not make them armed? Of course Jihad is written off as something that Islam abandoned until the Crusades made them have to take it up again. She does admit however that Islam always had a "few token Jihads". What on earth is a "token" Jihad, and why does that not count? The battle of Tours where the Islamic invasion of Europe is written off as "raids" rather than an actual attempt to takeover Europe or France. The source for this claim . . . the fact that Islamic historical records do not discuss it much and because many Islamic people had not liked the climate of Europe. Really this book is that bad.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Leo Juda is another of the forgotten Reformers, although he was also one of the first. If he is remembered at all it is the Robin to Zwingli's Batman. But contemporary views of Juda put him as a first class scholar and a beloved individual.
Leo was born in 1482 to a priest in Alsace, which makes Leo sort of a living embodiment for why a Reformation was needed. He went to Basel to study, first medicine, and then theology. It was here in Basel that Leo probably became converted to the Reformation. He studied under Wittembach, who did teach justification by faith alone. It was during his time of listening to Wittembach that Juda became good friends with Zwingli. This was probably around 1505. Juda graduated and left to be a priest in Alsace in the church of St. Pilt. Juda would replace Zwingli at Einseideln in 1518. This shows that he was clearly reformed by this time. He served there for four years. Juda left to take a job in Zurich and Oswald Myconius replaced Juda at Einseideln (making Einseideln an early training ground for Reformed ministers).
Juda took a church in Zurich and quickly helped Zwingli purge out the Roman Catholic elements in the city. It was Juda who took on a traveling Romanist friar who was teaching salvation by works. The uproar resulting from that helped tip the city permanently toward the Reformation. Juda was one of the main teachers at the Prophezei school opened in Zurich in 1525. Thus, Juda had a great impact on the students of the next generation of the Reformation.
Juda was also the driving force behind the Zurich Bible. Juda was skilled in the languages and while it is impossible to tell how much of the translation was done by Juda, most seem to think he did the lion's share of the work. He would also go on to make a Latin Translation of the Old Testament. Juda understood that the word of God is what changes people's lives, and that needed to be able to read it. Thus, the Zurich Bible put the Word of God in the popular language of the day in order that all would have the opportunity to hear and understand.
Juda appears as a name in many of the debates of the day. Juda took part in the Zurich debates and several others although he seldom gets credit for being a leading Reformer. What is most remarkable is how loved Juda was by all. He is stated to be the "most loved" of all Zwingli's friends. Despite his diminutive size (he must have been rather short), his heart appears to have been large. He was not a front man, a spokesman, or one destined for long term fame. But Juda did the behind the scenes pastoral work that made the Reformation so successful in Switzerland. We too often get caught up in thinking the Reformation was a large scale intellectual movement, but it was a pastoral movement as well. Juda trained young men at the Prophezei school, put the word of God in the hands of the people, pastored churches, and loved with a forgiving heart. In these ways the Reformation grew. May we remember Leo Juda for his work as a Reformer.
Sunday, August 09, 2009
I will do a post in the next day or so on another forgotten reformer, but I have to post about the winners and losers of the MLB Trade Deadline. I have been amazed at ESPN's continued fantasy about Boston. Most of their radio hosts have claimed Boston was the big winner just edging out Philadelphia. That is completely wrong. Philly is the big winner because they got the best Pitcher available: Cliff Lee. They did not have to sell the farm system like they would have to get Roy Halladay, but they still got a pitcher to make them battle ready in the post season. Boston got Victor Martinez who does make them better. He will be able to make Boston injury proof at several positions and help management give Ortiz and Veritek "days off" so they can get someone who can actually hit in the line up. However, this was Boston's last big chance to win. They needed more pitching to do it. Dice K is awful and Smoltz is no longer starter material. A few young guys and Josh Beckett are not enough to pull off a title, or maybe even a trip to the post season this year. Boston tried to get both Lee and Martinez in one deal, but could not. Thus, Boston is the big loser. Note they are still dropping in the AL East. Plus, they did have to give away some young guys, and it only further depletes the Boston farm system. Their team is old. Ortiz is done. Veritek is done. Lowell is done. Their offense is not what it used to be. Beckett is having a good year this year, which means next year he will be a .500 pitcher. Add in the fact that their first title was basically proven to be on the back of massive steroid use, and you see the desperate need for a title this year.
The only other option for biggest loser is the St. Louis Cardinals or the Minnesota Twins who both failed to improve their club. The Twins have pulled off a post deadline deal, but it may not be enough. Seattle also made some trades where they gave up some young talent, and got almost nothing in return. They may well be a loser too.
The biggest winner has to be the Phils, who proved they are thinking about the post season match ups in a seven game series now. They needed another dominate pitcher to be comfortable against the Dodgers and they got that. I still think that they will disappear and miserably fail, but they have a much better shot at actually pulling it off now.
The real biggest winners are Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Toronto. Pittsburgh because of the sheer number of people they have added to their farm system. They now have five of the top 75 prospects in baseball. That is pretty good. Cleveland got a bevy of young guys as well. Toronto also is a winner because they got to keep Halladay. He gets one more year with the Blue Jays and they can add their young guys to him and maybe get a free agent to help out. It is a long shot because of the division they play in, but it is still a good thing for the fans of the Blue Jays. They still have the best in baseball.
Friday, July 31, 2009
The new look Pirates make their debut tonight. They have officially given up on this season with the trades they have made. People who started the year on the Pirates roster and are no longer with them include: Sean Burrnett, Erik Henskie, Adam LaRoche, Ian Snell, Nyjer Morgan, Jon Grabow, Jack Wilson, and Freddy Sanchez. Only the last three are missed. Also gone is the ace of last years staff Tom Gorzelanny, who did not start the year on the team, but did pitch from the bullpen some this year.
However the trades, with the possible exception of Morgan and Burnett to the Nationals, have all improved the long term prospects for the Pirates. The trades this year have also continued to build the Pirates in waves. The Pirates got some people who are going to be on the team right now and make a huge impact including pitcher Kevin Hart from the Cubs. I also expect you will see Jeff Clement at first base before the September call ups, but at least then. He will have a huge impact. Lastings Milledge will be up in September as well and his try out for the team will begin. I suppose we ought to count Ronny Cedeno here as well. He is the place holder at short stop. It is better than having to try Brian Bixler again at short, but he is just a place holder considering two short stops were drafted in the first four rounds last year. They also received a lot of people who will make their arrival next year including Jose Ascino from the Cubs (pitcher), Tim Alderson (pitcher for Sanchez) and Argentis Diaz (short stop for LaRoche) who will probably make a debut with the club sometime next year. Then a ton more prospects will show up after that including Aaron Pribonic (pitcher), Brett Lorin (pitcher), and Nathan Hadcock (pitcher), Casey Erickson (pitcher for Henskie), and Eric Flyer (outfielder/catcher for Henskie). This was a terrific year for trades for the Pirates and I am not sure I included all of the prospects we received.
I think the future of the Pirates looks very bright now. I have predicted that they will win the World Series next year, and I might have to lower that to simply win the NL. The reason is the bullpen. I am not sure what the Pirates will do next year for left handed bullpen support. They got rid of their two best this year leaving only Donald Veal, who is improving, and possible Phil Dumatrait assuming he does not win a starting job next year. That may hurt them, but they ought to have an amazing rotation next year. They will have a great increase in power with the addition of Pedro Alvarez (who I think will join mid season), and Jeff Clement at first. Let us assume that Garret Jones continues his power and is on the the team next year giving one more year for Tabata to mature, that will keep his power, and if Milledge takes the other corner spot then that is more power than Dwelven Young. The hole at first will be filled by Clement. The hole at third is filled by Alvarez. The hole at short created by Jack Wilson can be filled by Argentis Diaz, or perhaps Brian Friday. The hole at second is the biggest problem. It can be filled by Jim Negyrich (.272 in AA but season ended with a non-basbeball surgery) or Shelby Ford (hitting below .200 at AAA) or maybe moving Cedeno to second or Bixler (.262 at AAA but below .200 in several major league stints). One might could hope that they try to move Andy LaRoche to a new infield spot, but we are not going to get our hopes up for that one. Perhaps the idea that the Pirates will go with is to move Dwelven Young from outfield to second base. He played second once already this year and pulled off an amazing catch and he is hitting above .300. The Pirates management has hinted that will give this a try, and that would open up a spot for Milledge or Tabata to start in the outfield. If they do this, then they will have a real shot at winning the NL and perhaps the world series. Of course they need a healthy Ryan Doumit behind the plate, but they will not need him as much next year. He is the RBI guy and the power guy and without him this year we could not get the big hit when we needed it. Next year adding power with Alvarez and Clement along side the surprising Jones and a healthy Doumit should give us a lot of guys to fear with the bat. Put McCutchen at the top of the line up, and they will have lots of chances to drive in runs.
The rotation could be anything, which means if someone is failing they can do something about it. Brad Lincoln is ready as is Daniel McCutchen from AAA. Virgil Vasquez and Charlie Morton are showing good things at the major league level, Phil Dumatrait will be back from his injury. Zack Duke made the All Star team, Ross Ohlendorf has shown flashes and Jeff Karstens will compete for a place. Add in the can't miss prospect of Tim Alderson just received along with Jose Ascino not to mention Kevin Hart who showed he could win starts and pitch great with the Cubs, and the Pirates have an over abundance right now.
I am looking forward to all of these trades finally paying off.