Saturday, July 09, 2005

Please don't feed the troll!

Some helpful tips on the fine art of troll-control:

The mythical religious right


'Talk to someone in Cincinnati? Are you crazy?'. . . and so the Democrats blew it
Tom Wolfe on the elite that got lost in middle America

Over the past few days I’ve talked to lots of journalists and literary types in New York. I’ve grown used to the sound of crushed, hushed voices on the end of the phone. The weight of George Bush’s victory seems almost too much. But what did they expect, I ask myself.

They don’t like the war and the way the war is going, they don’t like Bush and they don’t like what this election says about America. But where’s their sense of reality?

The liberal elite showed it was way out of touch even before the election. I was at a dinner party in New York and when everyone was wondering what to do about Bush I suggested they might do like me and vote for him. There was silence around the table, as if I’d said “by the way, I haven’t mentioned this before but I’m a child molester”.

Now, like Chicken Little after an acorn fell on his head, they think the sky is falling. I have to laugh. It reminds me of Pauline Kael, the film critic, who said, “I don’t know how Reagan won — I don’t know a soul who voted for him.” That was a classic and reflects the reaction of New York intellectuals now. Note my definition of “intellectual” here is what you often find in this city: not people of intellectual attainment but more like car salesmen, who take in shipments of ideas and sell them on.

I think the results in Ohio, the key state this time, tell us everything we need to know. Overall, the picture of Republican red and Democratic blue across the country remained almost unchanged since last time. The millions of dollars spent and miles travelled on the Bush and Kerry campaigns made no difference at all.

But look at Ohio and the different voting patterns in Cleveland and Cincinnati. Cleveland, in the north of the state, is cosmopolitan, what we would think of as an “eastern” city, and Kerry won by two votes to one. Cincinnati, in the southeast corner of Ohio, is a long way away both geographically and culturally. It’s Midwestern and that automatically means “hicksville” to New York intellectuals. There Bush won by a margin of 150,000 votes and it was southern Ohio as a whole that sent him back to the White House.

The truth is that my pals, my fellow journos and literary types, would feel more comfortable going to Baghdad than to Cincinnati. Most couldn’t tell you what state Cincinnati is in and going there would be like being assigned to a tumbleweed county in Mexico.

They can talk to sheikhs in Lebanon and esoteric radical groups in Uzbekistan, but talk to someone in Cincinnati . . . are you crazy? They have no concept of what America is made of and even now they won’t see that.

So who are the people who voted for Bush? I think the most cogent person on this is James Webb, the most decorated marine to come out of Vietnam. Like John Kerry he won the Silver Star, but also the Navy Cross, the equivalent of our highest honour, the Congressional Medal.

He served briefly under Reagan as secretary for the navy, but he has since become a writer. His latest book, Born Fighting, is the most important piece of ethnography in this country for a long time. It’s about that huge but invisible group, the Scots-Irish. They’re all over the Appalachian mountains and places like southern Ohio and Tennessee.

Their theme song is country music and when people talk about rednecks, this is the group they’re talking about: this is the group that voted for Bush.

Though they’ve had successes, the Scots-Irish generally haven’t done well economically. They’re individualistic, they’re stubborn and they value their way of life more then their financial situation. If a politician comes out for gun control they take it personally. It’s not about guns, really: if you’re against the National Rifle Association you’re against them as a people.

They take Protestantism seriously. It tickles me when people talk about “the Christian right”. These people aren’t right wing, they’re just religious. If you’re religious, of course, you’re against gay marriage and abortion. You’re against a lot of things that have become part of the intellectual liberal liturgy.

Everyone who joins the military here thinks, “Where did all these Southerners come from?” These people love to fight. During the French and Indian wars, before there was a United States, recruiters would turn up in the Carolinas and in the Appalachians and say, “Anyone want to go and fight Indians?” There was a bunch of boys who were always up for it and they haven’t lost that love of battle.

My family wasn’t Scots-Irish but my father was from the Shenendoah Valley, in the Blue Ridge mountains in western Virginia, so I know the kind of folks Webb is talking about.

They do like fighting: many’s the time I was visiting there and I’d get taken down to town to watch the rock fights on a Saturday night. All the men would hit the bar, drink beer — the only drink you could buy out there — come out of the saloon, pick up rocks, throw them at each other and then go home.

Bush, despite his wealthy and refined lineage, in terms of family and where he went to school, manages to come across to people like that as one of them. He walks like them, he talks like them, he likes cattle and he says he likes stock car racing, the most popular sport in the United States, not that you’d know it from reading the New York papers — they don’t cover it.

There’s an annual race in a little place, Bristol Tennessee, a place full of Scots-Irish, that draws 165,000 people every year, 55,000 more than go to the biggest football game. Bush reflects this America — the real America — and that is maybe what the liberal elite and his critics abroad can’t stomach.

He honestly seems to believe in God, whereas Kerry says, “I’m a Roman Catholic so I must believe in God.” It’s as if he turns to James Carville (the Democratic strategist) and says, “Don’t I?” It obviously doesn’t play a part in his life.

The values of middle America don’t play well in New York. Among American writers, with few exceptions, you don’t say anything patriotic and you don’t say anything generally good about the country.

I must finish now because I need to get to Kennedy airport to wave goodbye to all those writers and journalists who’ve told me they can’t take another four years of Bush. Triumphalism is not my style but I can’t help an “I told you so” smile. Oh, by the way, most of them are leaving for London. Heaven help you when they get there.,,2089-1347653,00.html

Tom Wolfe was talking to Margarette Driscoll


Friday, July 08, 2005

Is the Pope the Antichrist?

Nowadays, the equation of the Pope with the Antichrist is associated with charter members of the lunatic fringe like Ian Paisley. Yet, until rather recently, this was the traditional position in Reformed theology. It even attained confessional status by the Westminster Divines (WCF 25.6).

In our own time, some “Reformed” ecumenists have taken cover under the ample shadow cast by Charles Hodge, who argued for the validity of Catholic baptism. Yet not only was Hodge outvoted by the General Assembly (1845), but he himself, in his Systematic Theology, supported the traditional identification of the papacy with the Antichrist (3:819).

So to seek refuge in Charles Hodge is rather like running into a burning building to escape a forest fire.

One is therefore tempted to ask, at why point did the Pope cease to be the Antichrist?

It is striking that A. A. Hodge, in his classic commentary on the Westminster Confession, seems to back away from his father’s direct equation of the papacy with the Antichrist (319).

Berkhof, in his Systematic Theology, offers a heavily caveated identification (702). Morton Smith, although in many respects an Old School Southern Presbyterian, follows suit in his own Systematic Theology (2:793-94). And Hoeksema, in his Reformed Dogmatics, seems to regard political leaders like Hitler and Stalin as having exemplified the spirit of the Antichrist (807).

So, then, is the Pope the Antichrist? The short answer is that there is no short answer, or at least no straightforward answer, for how you answer this question depends, in part or in whole, on how you answer a preliminary question.

For the bearing of certain NT prophecies (e.g., Mt 23-25; 2 Thes 2; Rev 13) depends on whether you happen to be a preterist, futurist, historicist, or idealist.

If you are either a preterist or a futurist, then that position, all by itself, will select for a negative answer.

If, on the one hand, you are a preterist, then the Antichrist has to be a 1C figure or institution, such as the Jewish Church or the Roman Emperor. In either case, the relation involves a one-to-one correspondence.

Within Calvinism, that would be consistent with the position of B. B. Warfield.

If you are a futurist, then the Antichrist has to be an endtime figure or institution, whether political, religious, or both. In either case, the relation involves a one-to-one correspondence.

Within Calvinism, that would be consistent with the position of Charles Spurgeon.

If, on the other hand, you are either a historicist or an idealist, then that will leave your options open. It will supply a necessary, but insufficient condition, to equate the papacy with the Antichrist. For you must still decide which candidate or candidates does, in fact, correspond to the scriptural job description of the Antichrist.

For example, a historicist can see in the gradual aggrandizement of Roman primacy and papal primacy over the course of church history a roadmap to the Antichrist.

Within Calvinism, that would be consistent with the position of the Westminster Divines.

Indeed, you might say that their identification (of the papacy with the Antichrist) selects for their historicism.

Yet a historicist can also find historical justification for equating Muhammad with the Antichrist. In either case, the relation involves a one-to-one correspondence.

Conversely, an idealist can see the spirit of the Antichrist simultaneously exemplified or successively recapitulated at various times and places, both in OT history and church history. Any individual institution or particular personage represents a special case of this general inspiration. The relation involves a one-to-many correspondence.

Within Calvinism, that would be consistent with the position of Vern Poythress and Gregory Beale.

Mind you, I’m not claiming that Warfield or Spurgeon or Beale or Poythress or the Westminster Divines do, in fact, make that particular correlation.

My point, rather, is that your higher-level hermeneutical precommitments logically foreclose some options while leaving other options in play before you ever get to the specific question and answer stage.

And in my opinion, idealism is best able to co-op the advantages of the competing positions without their attendant disadvantages.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

"Biblical" rationalism is incoherent

<< But the principle can be deduced from Scripture. The Bible teaches that God is infallible, that the Bible is his infallible revelation, that God controls all things, that man is fallible, that man’s sensations and intuitions are fallible, etc., etc. — put them together, and BAM, you have Scripturalism. >>

If this is true, then Cheung should be able to arrange these propositions into a formal logical argument such that the conclusion follows by strict implication from the major and minor premises.

Says Cheung: ”An inference is valid only if you can write it out as a syllogism and show that the conclusion necessarily follows from the premises.”

In addition, how does Cheung know what the Bible teaches? He posits occasionalism as his mechanism. And he claims to deduce occasionalism from Scripture.

Ah, but herein lies a vicious circle. Unless he already knows, apart from Scripture, that Scripture is an object of knowledge, how can he ever know that the Bible is his source of information?

Likewise, unless he already knows that occasionalism is true, how can he ever know that this is the true mechanism which puts his mind in contact with the propositions of Scripture?

You see, for Cheung, Scripture is like a safe. Occasionalism is the combination. But there’s one little snag: the combination is locked away in the safe.

Cheung is telling us that he gets the combination (occasionalism) from the safe. But he can only open the safe if he already has the combination in hand.

How does he know that occasionalism is the correct combination to open the safe if the combination is written on a piece of paper inside the safe?

So this is his dilemma: if he can open the safe without knowing in advance what’s inside, then his knowledge is not limited to what’s inside the safe.

But if he can’t open the safe without knowing in advance what is inside, and if the contents of the safe are his only source of knowledge, then he can’t know anything at all.

So, you see, Cheung is cheating. He is tactically assuming an insider’s knowledge which he, as an outsider, can never enjoy. That's his secret fudge-factor.

<< It is amusing to me that some presuppositionalists have been so passionately arguing against my anti-empiricism that it is as if they are now defending empiricism, and in a manner that often contradicts what they would say when they argue against evidentialism in apologetics. >>

How does Cheung happen to know that his critics are presuppositionalists? Did he deduce this from Scripture?

Monday, July 04, 2005

Me, myself, and I

I seem to have hit a sore nerve with dear old Dave. Actually, it would be hard to miss since he seems to be a bundle of nerves.

<< Shades of the fake blog [purporting to be me]. Remember that? >>

Yes, I do remember that. Pity it was taken down. For a guy who prides himself on being such a satirist, Armstrong’s reservoir of humor runs dry as soon as he is the one being spoofed. There was even the veiled threat of legal action. Yet he cites this as proof positive of his humility. Yes indeedy! Humility is his middle name.

<< If you make the slightest attempt to defend yourself at all against ludicrous charges, then you get this kind of worthless bilge back. I must accept what these clowns say about me at all times, lest I [supposedly] prove their point [by disputing it]!!! Is that what might be called a "no-win situation"? >>

This merely reinforces his blinkered outlook. Notice that it’s not about defending the Catholic faith, but about defending himself.

Compare this attitude with the recent thread between Paul Owen and Eric Svendsen. Svendsen spends a lot of time rebutting false charges, but he always brings it back to the exegesis of Scripture. He doesn’t make the issue about himself, even if others would like to make the issue about himself. Rather, he uses these controversies as an occasion to zero in on the meaning of Scripture. That is where he spends his time and effort.

Dave, on the other hand, goes on and on and on with these poor-little-me-centered tearjerkers and three-hankies.

And I simply thought it was worth noting that a guy who runs the third-rated—or is it third-rate?—Catholic apologetics blog spends so much of his time commending and defending himself instead of commending and defending his church. If he really thinks that everyone should convert to Catholicism, couldn’t he at least give his own church top-billing?

<< Has he never glanced at the mountain of papers posted on the left sidebar of this blog. >>

Notice his Jedi mind-trick. I was specifically referring to the daily/weekly fare that makes its way into the archive. Dave redirects the reader away from the archived material to the cream of the crop. This merely proves my point that the substantive stuff is only a fraction of the whole.

If you had an employee who spent a few hours each week actually doing what he was paid to do, while spending all the rest of his time surfing the web and playing computer games on company time, you might have reason to suspect that this said something about his interest level in the job.

<< This reminds me of James White's oft-made claim…

But I wouldn't expect Steve or Kerry to comprehend such a fairly simple goal… >

Well, for once I must admit that Armstrong’s arrow has hit is mark.

There’s no doubt that I’m seen far too often in bad company, with all the wrong sort of people—you know the type: those backwoodsy Baptist Bible-thumpers like James White and Frank Turk and Kerry Gilliard. Why, between the three of us we can hardly put together a single grammatical sentence.

It’s a disgrace to my family name. That I own—to my everlasting shame.

Perhaps, though, Dave would spare me a guest pass to Versailles so that I could rub shoulders with the powdered-wig and French snuff set he frequents.

<< To me, this present post is about how a sharp guy like Steve Hays has to reduce himself to the appearance of a blithering, babbling idiot and fool when trying to "refute" my "arguments" (argument? huh?! What's that????). This is -- again -- all about him. One has to ask why this is, that a person with a head on his shoulders and a working brain between his ears, is reduced to such vapid, vacuous, worthless inanity? >>

Despite the Heraclitean appearance of experience, there are a few constants in life, such as time and tide, death and taxes, sunup and sundown, seedtime and harvest, as well as Dave’s clockwork resort to the pejorative language he denounces in everyone else, which restores my confidence in the reign of natural law.

<< Therefore, all this sort of "exposing and chronicling" (which is, I know, boring and tedious to many, including myself) is done, not for my own sake, but for the sake of weaker Catholic brethren. I'm not here merely to entertain, but to help the faithful, aid weak, undereducated Catholics who need a shot of confidence. >>

Doesn’t the sheer, unstinting nobility of it all hit you smack-dab in the solar plexus? ‘Tis a far, far better thing that I do, than I have every done…

Yep. Humble is his middle name.

It would be easy to chalk this up to his overweening vanity, but actually, it dovetails with his theology. You know, all that good stuff about supererogatory merit deposited in the Treasury of Merit. The only question is whether pride selects for theology, or theology selects for pride.

The unbearable lightness of being Dave

Is Dave Armstrong a burnt-out Catholic? Has he run out of material?

How else do you explain the fact that over the last few months, if not years (I haven’t gone back into the archive), he has padded his 9/10 of his blog with autobiographical filler?

Most-all of what he’s posting these days is all about Dave and Dave’s admirers and Dave’s detractors.

I don’t find, say, Eric Svendsen padding 9/10 of his blog with autobiographical filler. Dr. Svendsen’s will occasionally take time out to correct a scurrilous charge, but then he goes right back to posting substantive material.

At this rate it doesn’t look like Dave is still a communicant member of the Catholic church. Somewhere along the line he left the Church of Rome and started the Church of Dave.

I guess that Dave has gotten bored with Catholicism. That’s understandable. As a recent convert to the faith, everything was fresh and new. There was a lot to talk about, a lot to explore and discover.

But after 15 years or so, like a marriage gone stale, the bloom is off the rose. Still, he makes his living as an author and a blogger, so he has to say something even when he has nothing to say—which is why we end up with reams and reams of material like the diary of an adolescent in the throes of teenage angst—they love me, they love me not…they love me, they love me not.

Or perhaps a more contemporary comparison would be one of those reality shows in which a camcorder runs 24/7 in the dorm room.

Mind you, I don’t say this as a criticism. It’s fine with me if he spends so much time talking about himself and so little time talking about his church. Let’s call it the Dave Show. Instead of learning anything new or profound about Catholicism, much less defending the claims of that venerable institution, we learn about Dave; and how Dave is defending Dave against Dave’s detractors; and how Dave’s defenders are defending Dave against Dave’s detractors; and how Dave is praising Dave’s defenders for defending Dave against Dave’s detractors.

In the meantime, the Church of Rome fades ever further into the background.

Well, that’s one explanation. Another diagnosis is that Mr. Armstrong is suffering from an acute and apparently incurable case of the Snow White Syndrome—an obsessive-compulsive disorder whose chief symptom is an inordinate amount of time spent in front of the boudoir mirror.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Scripturalism as Neo-Deism

In what follows I have changed the name of my theological opponent to “Genchu”; it is nobody’s real name. The main point of this essays is not about him or me, but about some general pointers on apologetics and debate.

I will focus on just one particular claim of Genchu’s: to wit:

<< Romans 1 says that this innate knowledge contains information about God’s attributes, such as eternity and power, and it is specific enough to condemn all idolatry and even something like homosexuality. Then, Romans 2 says that the moral laws have been written in the minds of men, and this information is full and specific enough to either condemn or excuse many of their daily actions. This is a lot of specific information! Thus the innate knowledge is indeed full enough to exclude all non-Christian ideas of God, and all non-Christian concepts of morality. >>

Now, Genchu claims to be a Calvinist, which commits him to the Reformed rule of faith, i.e., sola Scriptura.

Indeed, Genchu goes beyond traditional Calvinism by claiming to adhere to an especially strong version of sola Scriptura which goes by the name of Scripturalism.

As Genchu defines Scripturalism,

<< Scripture is the first principle of the Christian worldview, so that true knowledge consists of only what is directly stated in Scripture and what is validly deducible from Scripture. >>

So let us, then, take Genchu at his word and apply his own criterion to his prooftexting.

Does Rom 1 “directly state” that all men enjoy an “innate” knowledge of God? Obviously not.

Is the proposition of “innate” knowledge validly deducible from Rom 1? Not that I can see.

“Innate” knowledge would be a form of knowledge which is inborn and owes nothing to any relation between the subject and the external world.

Is that the sort of knowledge which Rom 1 attributes to the human mind? No. Rom 1 says that this knowledge comes from the outside—from the external world.

So how is Genchu’s appeal to Rom 1 consistent with his Scripturalism?

Perhaps he would gloss Rom 1 in the following way:

<< First, observation stimulates the mind to recall what God has already placed into it. Second, observation stimulates the mind to intuit what the logos immediately conveys to it on the occasion of the observation, often about what the person is observing. In both cases, no information comes from the act of observation itself. >>

If so, this only relocates the original question. Does Rom 1 “directly state” that “observation stimulates the mind to recall what God has already placed into it”? No.

Does Rom 1 “directly state” that “observation stimulates the mind to intuit what the logos immediately conveys to it on the occasion of the observation, often about what the person is observing”? No.

Are either or both of these propositions validly deducible from Rom 1? Hard to see how. How is either occasionalism or illuminationism validly deducible from the wording of Rom 1?

Perhaps Genchu would say that illuminationism is validly deducible from Jn 1:9. I’ve already argued that this is exegetically unsustainable—an argument which Genchu has chosen to ignore rather than rebut.

But, for the sake of argument, let us suppose that this is so. How does it follow, as a matter of valid inference, that if Jn 1:9 is talking about illuminationism, then Rom 1:19ff. must be talking about the same thing? This is a complete non-sequitur.

There is, for example, nothing in Rom 1 to preclude the possibility or probability that Paul regards the natural knowledge of God as an inductive inference from the external world.

How, from a strictly exegetical standpoint, would Genchu propose to block that interpretation?

It simply won’t do for Genchu to fall back on philosophical objections to empiricism, for even if these were compelling in their own right, they violate his stated rule of faith, according to which the interpretation of Rom 1 ought to be confined to what is either “directly stated” in the sacred text or else “validly deducible” from the text. To exclude exegetical options on the basis of such extraneous philosophical objections would violate his own rule of faith.

Or suppose, instead of inductive inference, we substitute deductive inference. I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean in this context, but let’s play along for the sake of argument.

If the subject is “intuiting” the existence of God from the external world, then he is arriving at the knowledge of God by a process—a process of intuition, in which event it isn’t innate knowledge, but only becomes knowledge by process of intuition from an external object.

And this is not the same as intuiting truths from Scripture. Rather, this is the case of intuiting truths from nature.

Now, Genchu might object by contending that the external world is not an object of knowledge or even a means of knowledge, but only supplies the occasion for intuition to “recall” its innate noetic endowment.

But this won’t do, either. For unless there were something familiar about the external object which triggered a sense of recognition as the mind compared the external object with its inner representation, there would be nothing in the external object to “remind” the subject of what he already knew, at some subliminal level.

Moreover, occasionalism is contrary to Genchu’s definition of innate knowledge:

<< Man is born with an innate knowledge of God, so that apart from any experience. >>

But even if we put an occasionalist spin on Rom 1, what God has already placed in the mind requires an external stimulus to activate the memory and turn this innate noetic endowment into knowledge proper. Hence, experience does supply a necessary condition for the knowledge of God.

This is confirmed by a further constraint which Genchu places on knowledge. For him, knowledge, in order to count as knowledge, must be self-conscious knowledge, and not merely tacit knowledge:

<< No one can think or speak without assuming and using biblical premises that provide the precondition of intelligibility. >>

So, according to Genchu’s criterion, innate knowledge doesn’t count as genuine knowledge until an additional condition is met, which is the conjunction between the innate noetic endowment and the experience of a suitable external stimulus.

So much for Rom 1. What about Rom 2?

Genchu simply assumes a popular interpretation of Rom 2 without attempting to ruling out rival interpretations.

If we take Rom 2:14-15 to refer to all mankind, then, as Cranfield puts it, we must understand the phrase “kai Helleni” to mean that “some pagan Gentiles do in fact, on the basis of a natural moral law, fulfill God’s law’s demands,” The Epistle to the Romans (T&T Clark 1982), 1:155.

Now that may be excellent Pelagian theology, but since Genchu identifies himself as a Calvinist, we rather doubt that he could embrace this exegetical option with an abundance of enthusiasm.

And Cranfield rightly rejects it as “hardly compatible with 3:9,20,23,” ibid. 156. Instead, he takes it as a shorthand expression for “Gentiles Christians, on analogy with Rom 11:13 & 15:9.

By way of supporting argument, he then points out that the phrase “gramaton en tais kardias auton” is “a deliberate reminiscence of Jer 31[LXX: 38]:33”. This rules out its application to the heathen since it has reference to “God’s eschatological promises [which] were already beginning to be fulfilled through the gospel in the lives of believes, both Jews and Gentiles,” ibid. 158-59. He also draws attention to Paul’s use of Jer 31 elsewhere (1 Cor 11:25; 2 Cor 3:2-3,6-14; 6:16) to corroborate his interpretation.

In addition, consider the supporting argument offered by N. T. Wright:


“Physei” comes in the middle of the clause: “for when nations not having Torah by nature do the things of Torah”). “By nature” could, grammatically, go either way, in Greek as in that English translation. It could modify “having Torah” instead of “doing the things of Torah.”…Paul’s point would then be an obvious one: that Gentiles do not, by nature—that is, by origin and parentage—possess the Torah. This is exactly the sense that Paul gives to phusis thirteen verses later when, making an almost identical point, he describes Gentiles Christians as “the by-nature uncircumcision that fulfills the Torah”). “Nature” cannot here refer to something that is common, innate, to all humans. Jews, too, are born uncircumcised; that is, in that sense, their “natural” state. It must refer to Gentiles humanity as opposed to Jewish (cf. Gal 2:15). I suggest that this is so for 2:14 as well.

The New Interpreter’s Bible (Abingdon Press 2002), 10:441-442.


Now, to make good on his sweeping assertions, Genchu needs to show that the alternative interpretation offered by Wright and Cranfield is not validly deducible from the text, or else is somehow inferior to his preferred interpretation.

In addition, the internalization of the law is not apart from a knowledge of the written word. To the contrary, it is mediated by a knowledge of the new covenant. So this verse is hardly a prooftext for Augustinian illumination. Rather, it presupposes special revelation and special grace, not natural revelation and common grace.

Innate knowledge is nowhere in view. Rather, the knowledge in view is acquired knowledge.

By ripping Jn 1:9 and Rom 2:15 from their redemptive settings, Genchu is unwittingly repristinating the heretical epistemology of English Deism, according to which the Gospel was merely the republication of natural religion, a la Tindal’s “Christianity as Old as the Creation.”

Yes, he may bring up his occasionalism once again. But where does Paul expllicate 2:14-15 with reference to occasionalism? Is this directly stated in 2:14-15 or validly deducible therefrom?

It is scarcely asking too much of Genchu, who not only affirms sola Scriptura, but what he regards as an even more rigorous and consistent version of the Reformed rule of faith, known as Scripturalism, to offer some painstaking exegesis of his Scriptural prooftexts.

Let us see if he is true to his own word. More importantly, let us see if he is true to the word of God.

The Twilight Zone

Think of yourself as Joe Jones--the innocent character in an SF movie who has car troubles while he's out-of-town. He is just able to get off the highway and pull into a small town that isn't on the map.

At first, it seems like the all-American small town with a few farms and maple-lined houses, while Main St. is the only paved road in town.

Everything and everyone appear to be perfectly normal--abnormally normal, in fact. The whole town is preternaturally clean and antiseptic.

Everybody is nice and polite. Indeed, they all have the same fixed smile, and they all look alike. You know the type: platinum blond with pale, wrinkle-free skin and a gray, glassy-eyed stare. They are uniformly friendly without any trace of emotion.

Every well-groomed dog always wags his tail. Every fresh-scrubbed kid always says “sir” and "ma'am,” "please" and "thank-you." The TV in his motel room only shows reruns of Leave It to Beaver and The Andy Griffith Show.

While Joe Jones’ car is still in the shop, which--for some reason, is taking days to repair--he scopes out the town, and begins to sense that something is just a little off.

The shapely waitress at the cafe asks him about family and friends. Does anyone know he's out-of-town? Would anyone miss him if...well...if something ever happened to him?

Taking a peek at the registry when the motel clerk isn't looking, he notices that all the guests have a strange way of signing in but never signing out.

When he slips out of his motel room after dark, he watches the townsfolk all heading for a barn on the edge of town, where he can make out a low humming sound and see an eerie blue light through the slats.

In the dim light he sees some odd-looking, pod-bearing plants next to a compost heap strewn with house keys, eyeglasses, neckties, prophylactics, and lipstick dispensers.

Well, I'll let your own imagination finish the story for you.

My point is that you can find a lot of folks in churches, as well as their virtual counterparts who, at first, seem right neighborly; but as soon as you get on the wrong side of them, a whole nother person emerges from behind the mask--someone you wouldn't want to be trapped with in a lifeboat.

At one level, life would be a lot nicer if we could avoid all this unpleasantness, but in another respect this is a useful experiment because it tells you in a hurry who you would or would not want with you in the lifeboat.