Saturday, March 26, 2011

Consistency

Since evidently Peter Lumpkins has not permitted my comment to display on his blog, I will post it here:
Dave Armstrong said:

If White would ever simply say he's sorry (as Peter noted), and messed up (like all of us have many times, being mere sinful mortals), this thing could be so over, and he would gain a lot of people's respect for such an acknowledgment.
Hey Dave,

While you're calling protestant apologists to admit their errors, do you have a similar call to repentance for Ergun Caner?

Thanks,
Evan

Varieties of Unbelieving College Students

Introduction:  Though I am continuing to do evangelism every Wednesday on campus, I haven't posted an outreach report in several weeks primarily because my experiences in witnessing to college students are pretty predictable.  Since I don't want to keep reporting the same thing over and over, I figured I would provide this post to talk about the general patterns that I see when witnessing to college students. 

I have literally witnessed to thousands of people over the last 17 years since becoming a Christian, and it can be interesting to think critically about how different types of people react differently to the gospel message.  The following are broad categories that I've observed in people on campuses.  

Types of Unbelieving College Students

1.  The Moralistic Therapeutic Deist:  Moralistic Therapeutic Deists (MTDs) usually have a religious background that is informed in some way by historic Christian teachings or even pseudo-Christian teachings.  Thus, it is necessarily a broad category that can have adherents ranging from Roman Catholicism to Mormonism.  They don't call themselves Moralistic Therapeutic Deists, nor would most of them even know what that term means.  MTDs generally believe that God wants them to be happy, healthy, comfortable, and moral.  MTDs differ from prosperity gospel adherents in that they do not generally teach or believe that God wants you to be wealthy nor do they necessarily try to justify their false beliefs with twisted interpretations of the Bible.  Instead, they start with a very vague notion that God is more interested in your personal peace, comfort, and that you're a nice person instead of understanding who God is what He requires of man in propositional form.  This means that talk about God's attributes and whether or not God has specifically revealed Himself in the Bible is usually considered irrelevant since they believe that being "good", "happy", and "fulfilled" is what's important to God.  Thus, MTDs usually think that as long as they follow the societal status quo and do what most other "normal" and "nice" American people do, then they'll go to a "better place" when they die.  The idea of a "Hell" is often met with apathy, agnosticism, and uncertainty with most MTDs I've spoken with; for they generally reserve eternal judgment for only really "bad" people like Hitler, Stalin, and Mao.  They are generally pretty pleasant people to converse with even though I've found that some MTDs are easily offended with the idea of a righteous and holy God that sends "nice" unrepentant people to Hell.  I think this is because a high, Biblical view of God flatly contradicts and crushes their high view of mankind and thus it absolutely overwhelms how they've always viewed the divine.

2.  The Skeptic:  There are about just as much varieties of skeptics as there are Moralistic Therapeutic Deists.  Some of them wear goth or death metal themed clothing, don bedhead hair, have an unshaven and unkempt appearance, have multiple body-piercings and tattoos whereas some are preppy looking, clean-cut, hipster atheists.  They can be nasty or nice when you try to casually approach them to talk about the things of God, and I've found that their outward appearance is usually no indicator of whether they're willing to engage in reasonable conversation or not.  Skeptics range from hard atheists to soft agnostics that are willing to listen and engage intellectual issues.  However, I've found that those who come from a fundamentalist Christian background can be the most difficult to talk to because they have loads of unbiblical, traditional, fundamentalist church "baggage" that you have to get around to have a productive conversation with them.  Also, when you couple that nonsense with the fact that somewhere along the way they were "burned" by professing Christians or sold a bill of goods that didn't cash out for them it makes a productive conversation even harder.  Thus, when you try to talk to them about the gospel, the first thing that comes to their mind almost in a knee-jerk reaction is the kooky fundamentalism that they ditched and their internal alarm system goes off and they automatically become defensive and difficult to interact with.  Some skeptics have been emotionally scarred by religion, others have been turned off by the blatant hypocrisy, and some just think that the whole thing is a kook-fest con job that preys on ignorant people to get their money and so they leave it all to search for greener, more "rational" pastures.  I remember a few weeks ago I tried to hand a young lady a ministry card and she said, "What's this?" and I responded, "It's a card about Jesus" and she replied, "Well, I don't want that!" and I said, "Why not?" and she retorted, "I spit in His face!" and I said, "Why would you say something like that?" and she said in a very snarky tone, "Just to annoy you!"  I told her to have a nice day and took my card back.  She obviously was angry at God for some reason or another.  Merely handing her a card and explaining to her that it was about Jesus made an otherwise reasonable person respond with immediate hatred because for her, anything having to do with the Christian religion functioned as a trigger that caused her guard to immediately go up.  I also had a conversation with a German exchange student last year that was almost at the same level of nastiness and I'm sad to say that I worked very hard to be patient, gentle, and kind while also exposing her logical fallacies and lack of Bible knowledge, yet it was almost like pouring fuel on a fire as she started verbally steamrolling me by continual interruptions and generally irrational behavior.  It was obvious that this was turning into a "pearls before swine" scenario and so I kindly exited my way out of the conversation by saying something like this:  "Ma'am, it's clear that you are not interested in discussing this right now, for you have interrupted me four times already when I've tried to answer a question you asked of me, therefore, I'm going to politely end our conversation here."   Of course, there are many more reasons why skeptics reject the Christian religion, but one thing's for sure, they all do so willingly and sometimes passionately.  I generally like to give them the chance to talk when witnessing to them one-on-one by asking, "Based on your understanding of Christianity, what is the gospel?" It is then that they reveal that the "Christianity" they have rejected is no true Christianity at all and that their reasons for rejecting it are emotional/moral and the purported intellectual arguments against it are just a smokescreen to hide their real reasons for rejecting it (Rom. 1:18-25).     

3.  The Hedonist:  This is the party-animal.  This is the "Animal House", John Belushi kind of person who is simply attending college for the next beer-swizzling gig or the place where naked girls can be found.  These guys are often the most difficult to get a serious conversation going because they are perpetual goof-offs and class clowns.  They take very few things seriously unless it has to do with to their boozing and partying.  These people are a disaster to try to speak to if they are in front of others since they are used to "performing".  Thus, its best to deal with them away from the immediate presence of others if possible.  They often are the most boisterous hecklers, and when they get backed into a corner in a public interaction during preaching, they sometimes start cursing and throwing out ad hominem bombs.  This is when knowing their name and asking them by their name to calm down in a lower tone of voice can be very helpful.  Then, when (if) they calm down, you can give them the floor to voice their concern without the profanity and name-calling.  Oftentimes, I've found that talking to them about sin, righteousness, and judgment and their accountability to God on Judgment Day sobers them up, especially when discussing these things in the context of their own impending death.   


4.  The Cynical:   The cynical person is negative, critical, and pessimistic.  They are usually very bright and oftentimes very well read.  They recognize that the world is a broken, messed up place and because they don't have a solution to the problems that they see, they express a jaded or scornful skepticism or negativity to most proposed solutions to the mess; especially religious solutions.  Those who are well-read are also often cynical about skepticism since they recognize that atheistic and/or post-modern philosophy really has nothing to offer to fix the problems inherent in the world, especially as those problems are related to their own personal lives.  Thus, they are world-weary and they drudge along, trying to make things personally better for themselves in the here and now since they figure that's about the best they can do.  I've found that talking to these folks about how Christ can give them "rest" if they are weary and heavy-laden can either be an encouragement for further discussion or a reason for them to roll their eyes and blow you off.  If they do the latter, I usually try to find out what their religious background is to see if they've been burned by Christianity in some way and then I attempt to explain to them what the Biblical gospel is and focus on grace, hope, and redemption, both personal redemption and the redemption of the creation that will occur when Christ returns.  Through these conversations I've found that most cynical people have only a very surface level experience with Biblical Christianity such that they "checked it out" a long time ago but because they "didn't see anything of any value" going on or they were emotionally burned by it and so they quickly ditched it.  The cynical person can be the most difficult type of unbeliever to talk to because they are the most skeptical out of all the various types of people I witness to. 

5.  The Pluralist:  The pluralist thinks that all religions ultimately lead to the same God.  Because of this, their thinking is usually very surface level and they sometimes get angry when you start to show them that all the major religions have competing and contradictory truth claims.  They are sometimes the worst listeners because they don't want to be confused with the facts.  I've found that asking them the following question helps lead the conversation in a positive direction or it gives me the opportunity to exit the conversation and move on to someone else who is willing to listen:  Do you believe that religions that have contradictory, competing, and mutually exclusive truth claims can all be true at the same time and in the same way? 

6.  The False Religionist:  The false religionist can also be difficult to talk to because they are confident that they are right and you are wrong, even to the point of spiritual pride.  This is most evident in adherents of sinless perfectionism, Jehovah's Witnesses, and aggressive Word of Faith/Prosperity Gospel proponents.  These people are generally unwilling to listen to Scripture and oftentimes a discussion with them turns into what I call "Bible ping-pong".  In "Bible ping-pong", you quote a verse that undermines their doctrine and they respond with one that seems to support it.  Then you explain how the verse in question doesn't actually support their view and they either ignore your explanation or dismiss it as incorrect since it dies the death of their thousand qualifications.   Thus, the more aggressive false religionist almost always has an interpretive rescuing device for all of the verses that counter their view.  I once encountered an aggressive heretical open-air preacher on the campus of UNCG.  He held to sinless perfectionism and at the end of my preaching he started asking me pointed questions like "Do you still sin?"  I responded that I was a sinner saved by grace and that yes, sometimes I still sin though I hate it.  He then proceeded to call me a lost man, and I responded, "But the Bible says in 1st John 1:8, 'If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us" and I then asked him if he believed in sinless perfectionism.  He said that he wasn't a sinner, denied that he had sinned for a long time, and I repeated the verse and explained to him that the Bible teaches that he's deceived because he holds this view.  It was then that he went ballistic, going crazy, making accusations and generally trying to defend himself before the 100 people that were listening to the preaching.  It was then that I stepped down from my step stool, gathered my belongings, and went home.  Usually, when I deal with an aggressive false religionist that insists upon distorting the Scriptures to their own destruction in spite of the contextual interpretations I have already offered that refutes their false doctrine, I politely leave the conversation since it is another example of casting pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6; 2 Peter 3:16).

7.  The False Convert:  This is a person who says they have repented and place their faith in Christ yet they live like an unbeliever.  They usually can't explain what the gospel is and they are strangers to the doctrine of repentance.  Sadly, many professing evangelical churches are producing scads of false converts with their easy-believism, non-Lordship, no repentance "gospel".  The false convert, along with the MTD adherent are the two most common types of unbelievers that I come into contact with on campus and oftentimes false converts are also MTDs.  I usually ask them about their church background and they almost always report that they responded to an altar call, were led in a "sinner's prayer" and made a "decision" for Jesus.  However, after the sappy music stopped, the lights were undimmed, and when the emotion and false fire wore off a few days later, they were back to their old, sinful tendencies and never went to a church meeting again.  Some of them still attend church services and are being further confirmed in their false conversion by the false messages that they are continually imbibing from the false teachers in their churches.  Usually when I start to explain the Biblical gospel to these folks, I get responses ranging from astonishment, to apathy, and to anger.  I'm sad to say that many false converts are apathetic, which is the fruit of a general cynicism towards religion in "Bible Belt" culture, but also because they too were promised a bill of goods that didn't cash out for them.     

8.  The Ready Listener:  This is the person that God has prepared to hear the gospel.  Surprisingly, this unbeliever comes from a variety of backgrounds, and I'm glad to report that the more you pray for God to put these types of people in your evangelistic path, the more you'll encounter them.  Out of the six or so people I witnessed to this past Wednesday, at least two of them were ready listeners.  The ready listener listens well, asks sincere questions, and is already convicted of their sin to a greater or lesser degree.  It is evident in some of these unbelievers that God is drawing them to Himself as they report to you that they have been witnessed to several times already by various believers and they often report that you just "showed up out of nowhere".  Its as if they intuitively sense that God has placed you in their path though they have yet to embrace Christ as Lord.  You will often have your most fruitful and lengthy conversations with these people and the positive experiences that you get from them will encourage you to pray for God to put more of them in your path.  If you come from an Arminian, fundamentalist Christian background with revivalistic tendencies, it will be tempting for you to "pray the sinner's prayer" with people like this, for many of them almost seem as if they are ready and willing to do it right there and then, regardless of their location.  But when that temptation arises, do as the apostles did and lovingly call them to repentance and faith in Christ and urge them to cry out to Him until either He saves them or they go to Hell.  Give them your contact information so that they can follow-up with you and then leave the rest to the Holy Spirit. Trust God to save them, not man-made mechanisms that are rooted in early 19th century revivalism.    

IN CONCLUSION, the above patterns can also be found in American society in general and several of the above patterns are sometimes found in the same unbeliever.  There may be more "patterns" that you have noticed in your interactions with unbelievers, but the above are some of the consistent ones I've noticed when evangelizing college students.  May God grant you the grace to depend upon the power of His Spirit working through His preached word as you seek to reach the lost with the glorious good news.

Military intervention

What’s the proper rationale for military intervention? Recent US presidents seem confused on this point. One reason for the confusion may be rhetorical. Some presidents seem to think you need to invoke a humanitarian rationale to warrant military intervention. That somehow makes it more noble or worthwhile than invoking national security.

There are situations in which a president’s real motive might be a perceived threat to our national security, but in order to sell the policy he tries to dress it up in humanitarian terms. That’s one interpretation.

But at best, that can lead to moral confusion. It’s easy to believe your own propaganda. When you keep giving one reason in public when you have a different reason in private, that commits you to the public rationale. It’s hard to back down after you condition members of your own party and your own administration to tout the official justification. You become captive to your own rhetoric. And you may come to believe it yourself.

Which shades into the next point: there’s an ideology which thinks acting in our national self-interest is venal, whereas the only justification for military intervention is, in fact, some humanitarian crisis. That we have a moral imperative to sacrifice our own interests in the interests of the “international community,” or something like that.

At this point we’ve strayed very far from the proper rationale. The rationale for national defense ought to be an extension of self-defense.

As individuals, we have a right to defend ourselves against unjust aggression. In addition, we have a duty to defend others where we have social obligations to others. For instance, a husband has a duty to protect his wife. A father has a duty to protect his children. He has an obligation to assume a personal risk on their behalf.

This applies to analogous relationships, like close friendships. That’s because friends are indebted to each other in complex ways. As such, they’ve acquired certain mutual obligations. Conversely, parents and grown children have innate mutual obligations–although that’s subject to various qualifications.

This duty is not transferable to just any sort of relationship. For we don’t have the same degree of responsibility for the welfare of just anyone and everyone.

In a sense, national defense is an extension of these familial obligations. And, like a friendship, it’s grounded in mutuality.

The underlying principle is that I'm prepared to die for your loved ones if you’re prepared to die for my loved ones. There’s strength in numbers. In case of common threat, we may need to pool our resources to mount a common defense which generally beneficial to all concerned parties. I’ll defend your loved ones if you defend my loved ones. Mutual risk, mutual reward.

By the same token, it is wrong for a president to put the lives of our servicemen at risk for total strangers, with nothing in return. Friends and family have deep emotional investments in one other. All things being equal, it’s wrong for a president to sacrifice the son of an American parent to save the life of a foreigner. That young man has a standing right to live. And his parents (friends and siblings) also have a right to have him in their lives. He doesn’t exist to die so that strangers may live or have a better life.

What is fundamentally lacking in a humanitarian military intervention is reciprocity. Strangers won’t return the favor. They won’t come to our aid. They won’t risk their welfare for our welfare. They won’t stick their neck out to save our sons from harm. They don’t care about us. They care about their own friends, family, and countrymen. Foreigners have their own social obligations.

Keep in mind that I’m distinguishing between charitable humanitarian intervention and military humanitarian intervention. Foreign relief efforts due to some natural disaster can be justified, although we have to be circumspect about that, too.

But it’s wrong to put American soldiers in harm’s way unless the objective is to make the homeland safer–or contributes to some "vital" interest. Wrong to send a G.I. to his death so that a perfect stranger may live. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Does everybody get his wings?

A village universalist has been making a nuisance of himself around the blogosphere, so I’ll comment on his case for universalism.

The most common objection people offer to this idea is that they cannot imagine God letting bad people into heaven.

Since that’s not my objection to universalism, that’s a red herring.

The first reason we have for believing that everyone is going to heaven are the promises made in the Bible.  For example, we’re told there would be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.  Well, Jesus was deemed the only truly righteous human ever to have lived (at least the only one who met God’s standard – that is, perfection).  Therefore, He is “the righteous” that gets resurrected and the rest of us are “the wicked.” 

That disregards Biblical usage. When the Bible distinguishes the righteous from the wicked in eschatological settings, it isn’t using “righteous” in that specialized sense. It doesn’t use “righteous” as a synonym for sinless.

We’re also told in the Bible that He’s the Savior of the world; and that He died not just for the sins of believers but for those of the whole world; and that as in Adam all die, in Christ shall all be made alive; and so on the promises go.

i) In Johannine usage, kosmos is qualitative, not quantitative. Cf. BDAG 562b; EDNT 2:312f.

ii) In context, 1 Cor 15:22 denotes the resurrection of the just (i.e. Christians), and not humanity in general. Cf. Ciampa & Rosner, The First Letter to the Corinthians, 763-64.

The second reason we have for believing that everyone is going to heaven is the nature of God as revealed in Jesus Christ.  Assuming you know something of the life Jesus lived on earth, can you imagine Him consigning people to an eternity of fiery torment? 

i) Actually, I don’t have to imagine it. It’s already in the record. Jesus consigns the goats to eternal misery (Mt 25:41,46). Jesus is the fiery avenger (2 Thes 1:5-10). Jesus is the hanging judge (Rev 6). Jesus is the warrior-king (Rev 19).

ii) Since, moreover, I, unlike Mike, am a Trinitarian, I also think the Son of God was party to OT judgments like the flood and destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. So that’s a typical precedent of worse to come.

Yes, there is judgment for sin in the earth and Jesus took pains to warn us of it graphically, but even the worst life on earth eventually comes to a merciful end.  It would be entirely inconsistent with Jesus’ nature to put us in a place where repentance was impossible.  Repenting is the thing He most wants us to do.

Of course, that’s not an argument. That begs the very question at issue.

The third reason we have for believing this truth is that God’s message of Jesus Christ is called good news.  It would not be good news if some of our fellow human beings had to spend eternity separated from us and punished mercilessly.  Don’t feel that way?  Then you’re not loving your brother as Jesus told us to.

i) The gospel isn’t meant to be good news for the impenitent. It’s only good news if you comply with the terms of the gospel.

ii) In NT usage, a “brother” is not synonymous with human beings generally. It’s not synonymous with unbelievers.

Lastly, according to the way the Bible describes the construction and reconstruction of the universe, there’s now nowhere else for folks to go but heaven.  The original universe had people dying and going below to a place called Sheol in Hebrew (called Hades in Greek).  This was the place to which all the dead went – good and bad. Even Jesus went there.  (After all, how could the dead be raised unless they were below to start with?)  So when Jesus was raised from the dead and ascended in to heaven, saying we would one day join Him there, well, that was stunningly good news that none of His disciples had ever expected.  They were thrilled with the notion of resurrection – to find out that they’d be raised not just to earth but all the way to heaven, where God lived – well, that was more than any of them would have asked for.  At the coming of the kingdom of God, and the consummation of that age, Sheol was done away and dead from that point began going up to heaven instead of down to Sheol.  Don’t think that happened?  Then you must believe everyone is still going below to Sheol when they die.  In that case, no one but Jesus would be in heaven at this point.  But don’t fear, the reconstruction of the spiritual side of the universe occurred on exactly the timetable that Jesus, the prophets, and the apostles said it would (Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again).  There is no more Sheol; there is only heaven for those who die.

A series of crippling errors:

i) How do we define sheol?

a) Bruce Waltke defines sheol as the “grave.” Cf. An Old Testament Theology, 965; The Book of Proverbs: Chapters 1-15, 116.

If you prefer that definition, then “sheol” is just a synonym for “death.” To say decedent “goes to sheol” is just an idiomatic way of saying that everyone dies.

That doesn’t mean everyone goes to the same “place,” or that everyone shares the same ultimate destiny. It just means we all die. We share a common fate in the sense that we are mortal.

b) Philip Johnson defines “sheol” as the “netherworld.” Cf. Shades of Sheol, esp. chap. 3.

If you prefer that definition, then that amounts to the same thing as the grave. It’s the difference between a literal meaning (“the grave, death and burial”) and a figurative meaning (“the netherworld/underworld”).

To say every decedent passes into the netherworld is picture-language. A graphic metaphor for death and burial. Indeed, the imagery of the netherworld is drawn from ANE burial customs.

This is reinforced by the fact that “sheol” frequently occurs in poetic passages, where we’d expect figurative imagery. And even in narrative passages, the stock, idiomatic figures of speech carry over.

ii) Since the dead are discarnate spirits, they don’t literally go any place.

iii) Biblical cosmography is figurative. And even at that level, cosmographic descriptions of the final state preserve a final separation between the righteous and the wicked. The saints are inside the New Jerusalem while the damned are outside the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:22-27; 22:14-15). So there’s a separate “place” for both. A compartmentalized afterlife. 

iv) In Rev 20:10, “sheol” (Gr.=hades) is a personification or synonymous parallel with “death.” “Sheol” is cast into the lake of fire. However, the lake of fire remains. The lake of fire takes the place of sheol. The damned are punished in the lake of faire. Cf. C. Morgan & R. Peterson, eds. Hell Under Fire, 129ff.

v) Mike misconstrues his prooftexts. Eph 4:9 doesn’t teach the descent into hell during Holy Saturday. Rather, here are major the exegetical options:

a) A figurative description of the Incarnation. Cf. O’Brien, The Letter to the Ephesians, 294-96.

b) A figurative description of Jesus’ victory over sin at Calvary. Cf. Hoehner, Ephesians, 533-36.

b) A reference to a post-Easter appearance to evil spirits to signal their defeat and subjugation. Cf. Arnold, Ephesians, 252-54; Thielman, Ephesians, 268-72.

Likewise, 1 Pet 3:19-20 has reference to a post-Easter appearance to evil spirits to signify their defeat and subjugation. Cf. Jobes, 1 Peter, 242-45.

vi) “Raised from the dead” doesn’t mean raised from the netherworld. When Jesus was raised, his body was in the tomb, not the netherworld. Same thing with Lazarus (Jn 11), and the OT saints in Mt 27:52-53. What is “raised” is the body, not the soul.

Fame - the Game...Dedicated to Peter

You're fabulous
Fantastic
Now we have all the right property

[Chorus:]
Fame makes a fool out of anyone
Fame takes you back to the golden childhood
Fame makes you think that you're having fun
Fame the game

Turn your mobile on
Get off into the limousine
To the early morning show
Everyday routine
Make up fake up get a manicure
Five minute autographs, grab a picture, yes or no
All the same answers to the same questions
Create a scandal with your reaction
What's that you say
Take it or leave it
Paparazzi wanna see you bleeding

[Chorus]

Late suit days, hair extensions
Botox faux false interventions
Nude job, boob job, all nouveau
It ain't what, but who you know
Uncalled perjury, cosmetic surgery
Dirty secrets frame your glory
It'll get the cover story

[Chorus]

Everybody wanna be a star
It's all about who they think you are
Pulling up in a crazy car
The front door is your garage
Everywhere en entourage
Play like you've been living large
Someone got your credit cards
Lend me your blah blah blah

Be careful
Be careful what you wish for

Since I was a child of three
I'd watch old movies on the silver screen
Kate Bette and Marilyn were the reigning queens
(do you wanna be a star?)
I know if I can make it out
Out of this sleepy town then I could go real far
I could I'd really work so hard
And I could do it and do it and do it 'til I become a star

[Chorus]

Miami, London, Paris in a week
Lying in private, catching up sleep
Celebrity parties, politic profits
Rock'n' roll bullyboys walk the red carpet
Getting in VIP through the velvet rope
Shake hands, photograph and you gotta go
Little black book pools with the CEO
Smile and tell'em what they wanna know
And tell'em what they wanna know

Be careful
Be careful what you wish for

[Chorus]

Everybody wanna be a star
It's all about who they think you are
Pulling up in a crazy car
The front door is your garage
Everywhere an entourage
Play like you've been living large
Someone got your credit cards
Lend me your blah blah blah

You're fabulous! Fantastic!

With that, Peter is...
Fabulous



Janus-Faced Lumpkinses

So Peter Lumpkins his been acting like a punk on his blog in his treatment of James White, indeed, his treatment of any Calvinist. He's a loving, nice, civil, irenic Arminian. White and other Calvinists are angry heresy hunters who comment on books without reading them (I know, demented, right?).

I called out Lumpkings at his blog and pointed out some hypocritical reasoning of his vis-a-vis his treatment of Justin Taylor &c. I tried to point out the incoherence of his position on the matter, which I detail here.

I posted at his site as Frank Rizzo, infamous "Jerky Boy," and I even called Lumpkins "sizzle chest," Rizzo's famous line. I also told him I had "recordings" out. Type in "Frank Rizzo," sizzle chest" and "recordings," and see what you find (some R-rated language, so be advised).

Anyway, everyone knows Calvinists are big meanies, most don't know they're consistent. Same behavior in public as in private---if you've earned the derision. But Arminians put on a friendly public face. They're the kind, loving, civil branch of Christianity. Especially Peter Lumpkins. He's got a book out on abstaining from alcohol. He's a squeaky clean teetotaler (IOW, a conscience-binder). But this isn't necessarily the case, for they may act worse than Calvinists in private. After posting my critique of Lumpkins I was harrassed with several emails, given Lumpkins' attacks on White &c and his questioning of their credibility, I think it's time to question Lumpkins' credibility:

*********************

From: Peter Lumpkins
Date: Mon, Mar 21, 2011 at 10:08 PM
To: Paul

What's the matter "Frank" can't you get anybody to read your devastating expose? Or, is it they just don't want to comment? What a hoot...


With that, I am...
Peter

----------
From: Paul
Date: Mon, Mar 21, 2011 at 10:31 PM
To: Peter Lumpkins


Yeah, my audience usually reads more sophisticated material and is more interested in real players in philosophy and theology, which would explain the disintrerest. The post has had about 100 views so far, so they must not want to comment. Probably gave them a good laugh at your expense.

Anyway, where's my nickel, or are you a liar? What a hoot

With that, you are...
Pwned

----------
From: Paul
Date: Mon, Mar 21, 2011 at 10:41 PM
To: Peter Lumpkins

What, couldn't let all of my comments through so your readers could "judge for themselves?" But now they're "judging" without "reading everything," something you staunchly forbid. Should you give them all the info before they judge, just like you wanted Taylor &c. to do?

With that, this is...
Too Easy


----------
From: Peter Lumpkins
Date: Tue, Mar 22, 2011 at 12:39 AM
To: Paul

Unfortunately, "Frank" you didn't earn a shiny new nickel. Not even close. And, speaking of "liars" I think it's you who ought to fess up on that one. Talk about moral irony! You come to my site to make me out the 'hypocrite' because I hate Calvinists and was just bent on getting Justin, et al. But you do so incognito and even flat out lied when I asked you to reveal yourself and to note my commenting policies. So, you attempt to bait me with your "one" question, all along knowing what you were there to do. And, to top it off, you were dishonest about it.

Yessirreee. You really got me where you want me, I'd say. What a double Georgia hoot, guy! Youz crackin me up~!

----------
From: Paul
Date: Tue, Mar 22, 2011 at 8:29 AM
To: Peter Lumpkins


Yeah, but who's acting like the 5 yr old and harrassing like a school girl?

Where's my nickel?

Know your limits.

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From: Peter Lumpkins
Date: Tue, Mar 22, 2011 at 12:24 PM
To: Paul

Rather harass like a school chick than flat out lie for no substantial reason. I mean, you weren't exactly facing the Gestapo as Corrie when she lied to protect the Jews. And, in order to qualify for a shiny new nickel, you've got to produce the goods. You did not and, apparently, cannot.


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From: Paul
Date: Tue, Mar 22, 2011 at 12:28 PM
To: Peter Lumpkins

You're such a goon. Frank Rizzo is one of the characters in The Jerky Boys. I though you were culturally savy anough to catch the reference; indeed, I even called you "sizzle chest" (his signature line) and told you I had several recordings out.

I produced the goods via a valid (and sound) three step argument.

Now run along, you're bugging me.

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From: Peter Lumpkins
Date: Tue, Mar 22, 2011 at 9:36 PM
To: Paul

you lied

goodbye

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From: Paul
Date: Tue, Mar 22, 2011 at 10:13 PM
To: Peter Lumpkins


oh yawn.

anyway, makes it convenient to not have to deal with the arguments.

sarcasm, satire, and parady are not lies. If I had said I was Brad Pitt, would you be playing the goodie goodie, two shoes too? No. Why? Because it's obvious. Likewise, Frank Rizzo, Not my fault you're a sheltered and fragile flower who didn't get the reference.

Run along, you're losing the debate again.

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From: Peter Lumpkins
Date: Tue, Mar 22, 2011 at 10:37 PM
To: Paul

Please. Such sheer rationalization is nonsense, "Paul" and you know it. Whatever satire you do on your site has not a single application on mine. I point blank asked you to go by my commenting policies and you a) was dishonest about it b) continued to ignore the commenting policies. It's guys doing what you did which ruin the blogging experience. You somehow think *you* do not have to play by other's rules when you're on their turf. Simply put, you, "Paul" are both dishonest and a coward. You would not come and straight up ask a question on my site. Instead you had to "hide" and do it. A sort of a literary bushwhacker. And, when your little sheet over your face was about to blow away, you did what cowards do--run for deeper cover--this time through explicit dishonesty. Imagine it--you accusing me of being dishonest about my hatred for Calvinism all the while you were dishonestly hiding behind a lying sheet. You talk about writing a blog whose readership demands intellectual acumen and more sophisticated theology and philosophy. Give me a break. Here's one--how about a blog where you own up to who you are and stand behind your words. It's called integrity, "Paul" or whoever the heck you are.

Now. I am done. I'd appreciate it if you'd go back to your make-believe world where you can you know all the sophisticated theology and philosophy your readership can handle. With good old, Rhett, I say, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a d_ _n!"


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From: Paul
Date: Tue, Mar 22, 2011 at 10:47 PM
To: Peter Lumpkins


Wait, you email me and then act as if I'm harrassing you?

Here's a hint: get a life.

Maybe people wouldn't come to your site and engage in those kinds of tactics if you weren't such a pompous, self-important, overbearing, proud, arrogant jerk.

You also have not once engaged the arguments I've given you, not even the arguments undermining your charge of lying.

I also didn't run for deeper cover you didn't post my comments with the link to my blog so your readers really could "judge" for themselves. You tried to make it look like you had the last word and there was no response to your most awesome objections.

Look, you got schooled and it seems all of this outrageous and infantile behavior on your end is because your fragile ego can't take the pwneage.

Does your mom still know you're up?

---------------


From: Peter Lumpkins
Date: Wed, Mar 23, 2011 at 11:48 AM
To: Paul

When one is caught lying, the honorable thing to do is admit it. Cowards routinely rise up in anger...kinda like you did, jackass. Now, don't bother Emailing me again because I just flagged your email on Google as spam.

Oh, btw, I do have a life. But know I ain't wasting another moment exchanging with a hotheaded bean-brain (not to mention a cowardly liar).

Now, go back and play your I'm-a-real-intellectual-blogger pretend game. And, when you think of me, recall Rhett's words I left for you...
Tak (więc) długi (długo), nieuczciwy człowiek i lepszy wy

---------------

From: Peter Lumpkins
Date: Wed, Mar 23, 2011 at 8:32 PM
To: Paul

Dear "Frank" "Paul" and/or "Hiteish Ghupta"

So, what are you a stalker or something? Are you really that desperate for attention that you must continue harassing me like this? Does your readership know what a high-ranking Internet skank you are? Oh, but they don't. You sound so smart and learned on your blog. And, when unsuspecting people ask for a recommendation for a book, you sound so well read. Ah, but behind your sheet, what we have is a puny little gnat, buzzing around the Internet in disguise annoying people.

Here's the deal, Jack: Get lost. I wouldn't give you the time of day now for any thing serious because you're too darn creepy. You deny you don't lie, but then log onto my site and yet once again, lie through your sheet---
"I tried to weight the merits of the discussion between "Frank" and Peter and then I found this site, which would seem to favor Frank Rizzo as the winner."

Well liar. You know what the Apocalypse says: all liars burn in the Lake of Fire. I wish you'd remember that before you slobber down your chin with another one.

Oh brother. Talking about a mistake letting you on. You are why I have moderation. And the only reason--Internet tirds like yourself not knowing when to quit....

Now for the last time--and YELLING--I HAVE NO INTEREST IN EXCHANGING WITH YOU! NONE! PERIOD! GET LOST, CREEP!

*********************

Sorry, forgot to mention that Lumpkins' emails demand a R-rated warning too---though I confess to not knowing what a "tird" is. Also notice that he first emailed me. He then ends by demanding I quit harrassing him, as if I emailed him. Anyway, it would appear Lumpkins needs to deal with his own internal problems and demons rather than busying himself about James White, Justin Taylor, Peter Pike, etc. He wants to question White's credibility? Perhaps people should begin to question his.

What does the tree of life confer?

What did the tree of life confer? There are three basic interpretations. Let’s run through them by process of elimination

1. Glorification

According to the eschatological interpretation (favored by redemptive-historical theologians like Vos, Kline, Alexander), partaking the tree of life glorifies the consumer. They justify this interpretation by appealing to Revelation, with its eschatological references to the tree of life.

However, a basic problem with their interpretation is that it’s clearly premature, anachronistic. For it confuses the type with the antitype.

Yes, the tree of life in the Garden prefigures the tree of life in the New Jerusalem. But it’s a basic principle of biblical typology that the antitype is something over and above the type, and not merely a recapitulation of the type. 

2. Life-extension

According to this interpretation (favored by John Walton), the tree of life prevents aging as long as you partake. But you have to keep eating the fruit to stay young. It’s a maintenance regime.

However, there are some basic problems with that interpretation:

i) It makes tree itself is the source of what it signifies. That’s a chemical property of the tree. A natural supplement. Keep going back to replenish a natural deficiency. Immorality as pharmacopia.

But the pattern in Scripture is not to treat physical objects as the immediate source or cause of such effects. Rather, God assigns a particular blessing to some concrete token. Take the Pentateuchal example of the bronze serpent. It has no inherent healing properties. It was just a piece of metal. Its curative significance was purely emblematic. The snakebite victims were healed by God, not the bronze serpent. The serpent was just a sympathetic token.

ii) It’s hard to see how Walton’s interpretation comes to terms with the nature of the death penalty in Gen 3:22.

a) The wording of Gen 3:22 indicates partaking the tree would transform Adam and Eve, thereby changing the status quo ante. If, however, they already partook, then eating again couldn’t very well effect a new condition. Rather, it would confirm their condition. Make them immortal sinners. 

b) The adverb (“also”, Heb.=gam) is another textual clue of a novel, additional transaction. Something they hadn’t done before.

c) Before they fell, there was no urgency about partaking the tree of life. Even after the fall, Adam aged very slowly.

But when they fell, when they faced the forbidding prospect of divine exile from the safety of their gated garden, then the neglected value of the tree would suddenly assume a new urgency.

3. Immortality

On this interpretation (favored by scholars like Barr, Currid, Hamilton, and Waltke), one bite conferred immortality. Youthful, ageless immortality. So they died because they were banished from the garden, and thereby blew that unique, irreversible, and unrepeatable opportunity.

Light & shade

I. Introduction

Unbelievers regard Gen 1 as scientifically hopeless. But bracketing the limitations of science for now, another problem with this objection is how a scientific approach to Gen 1 is apt to misinterpret Gen 1. A scientific reading of Gen 1 imposes on Gen 1 the scientific significance of certain key concepts. However, those concepts don’t necessary possess the same connotations in Gen 1.

I grew up on a large, heavily-wooded, waterfront property. The entire neighborhood was well-wooded, with waterfront properties lining the shore of the lake.

Being a night owl, I’d go outside at night at various times after dark. I was familiar with the phases of the moon and the phases of Venus. The occasional lunar halo or lunar eclipse. I noticed that the position of sunrise and sunset varied over the course of a year. Going outside at different times, I’d notice the “moving” stars shift position from hour to hour.

Of course, my own life was still regulated by the clock and artificial lighting. And just across the lake were the city lights of Seattle. So I didn’t witness the night sky with the undiminished magnitude of the Psalmist (Ps 19).

Nevertheless, my experience does cause me to ask if readers whose lives are regulated by clocks and light bulbs aren’t missing a key connotation in Gen 1. Electric lighting has erased the natural contrast between light and dark. Take the city slicker in a town like Manhattan or Vegas that “never sleeps.”

As a musical ear judges of sounds

Letter XIII
John Newton


Dear Sir,

It is well for those who are duly sensible of their own weakness and fallibility, and of the difficulties with which they are surrounded in life, that the Lord has promised to guide his people with his eye, and to cause them to hear a word behind them, saying, "This is the way, walk ye in it," when they are in danger of turning aside either to the right hand or to the left. For this purpose, he has given us the written word to be a lamp to our feet, and encouraged us to pray for the teaching of his Holy Spirit, that we may rightly understand and apply it. It is, however, too often seen, that many widely deviate from the path of duty, and commit gross and perplexing mistakes, while they profess a sincere desire to know the will of God, and think they have his warrant and authority. This must certainly be owing to misapplication of the rule by which they judge, since the rule itself is infallible, and the promise sure. The Scripture cannot deceive us, if rightly understood; but it may, if perverted, prove the occasion of confirming us in a mistake. The Holy Spirit cannot mislead those who are under his influence; but we may suppose that we are so, when we are not. It may not be unseasonable to offer a few thoughts upon a subject of great importance to the peace of our minds, and to the honour of our holy profession. Many have been deceived as to what they ought to do, or in forming a judgement beforehand of events in which they are nearly concerned, by expecting direction in ways which the Lord has not warranted. I shall mention some of the principal of these, for it is not easy to enumerate them all.

Some persons, when in doubt, have opened the Bible at a venture, and expected to find something to direct them in the first verse they should cast their eye upon It is no small discredit to this practice, that the Heathens, who knew not the Bible, used some of their favourite books in the same way: and grounded their persuasions of what they ought to do, or of what should befall them, according to the passage they happened to open upon. Among the Romans, the writings of Virgil were frequently consulted upon these occasions; which gave rise to the well-known expression of the Sortes Virgilianae. And indeed Virgil is as well adapted to satisfy inquirers in this way, as the Bible itself; for if people will be governed by the occurrence of a single text of Scripture, without regarding the context, or duly comparing it with the general tenor of the word of God, and with their own circumstances, they may commit the greatest extravagances, expect the greatest impossibilities, and contradict the plainest dictates of common sense, while they think they have the word of God on their side. Can the opening upon 2 Sam. vii. 3 when Nathan said unto David, "Do all that is in thine heart, for the Lord is with thee," be sufficient to determine the lawfulness or expediency of actions? Or can a glance of the eye upon our Lord's words to the woman of Canaan, Matth. xv. 28, "Be it unto thee even as thou wilt," amount to a proof, that the present earnest desire of the mind (whatever it may be) shall be surely accomplished? Yet it is certain that matters big with important consequences have been engaged in, and the most sanguine expectations formed, upon no better warrant than dipping (as it is called) upon a text of Scripture.

A sudden strong impression of a text, that seems to have some resemblance to the concern upon the mind, has been accepted by many as an infallible token that they were right, and that things would go just as they would have them; or, on the other hand, if the passage bore a threatening aspect, it has filled them with fears and disquietudes, which they have afterwards found were groundless and unnecessary. These impressions, being more out of their power than the former method, have been more generally regarded and trusted to, but have frequently proved no less delusive. It is allowed, that such impressions of a precept or a promise, as humble, animate, or comfort the soul, by giving it a lively sense of the truth contained in the words, are both profitable and pleasant; and many of the Lord's people have been instructed and supported "especially in a time of trouble) by some seasonable word of grace applied and sealed by his Spirit with power to their hearts. But if impressions or impulses are received as a voice from heaven, directing to such particular actions as could not be proved to be duties without them, a person may be unwarily misled into great evils and gross delusions; and many have been so. There is no doubt but the enemy of our souls, if permitted, can furnish us with Scriptures in abundance in this way, and for these purposes.

Some persons judge of the nature and event of their designs, by the freedom which they find in prayer. They say they commit their ways to God, seek his direction, and are favoured with much enlargement of spirit; and therefore they cannot doubt but what they have in view is acceptable in the Lord's sight. I would not absolutely reject every plea of this kind, yet without other corroborating evidence, I could not admit it in proof of what it is brought for. It is not always easy to determine when we have spiritual freedom in prayer. Self is deceitful; and when our hearts are much fixed and bent upon a thing, this may put words and earnestness into our mouths. Too often we first secretly determine for ourselves, and then come to ask counsel of God; in such a disposition we are ready to catch at everything that may seem to favour our darling scheme; and the Lord, for the detection and chastisement of our hypocrisy (for hypocrisy it is, though perhaps hardly perceptible to ourselves), may answer us according to our idols; see Ezek. xiv. 3, 4. Besides, the grace of prayer may be in exercise, when the subject-matter of the prayer may be founded upon a mistake, from the intervention of circumstances which we are unacquainted with. Thus I may have a friend in a distant country, I hope he is alive, I pray for him and it is my duty so to do. The Lord, by his Spirit, assists his people in what is their present duty. If I am enabled to pray with much liberty for my distant friend, it may be a proof that the Spirit of the Lord is pleased to assist my infirmities, but it is no proof that my friend is certainly alive at the time I am praying for him: and if the next time I pray for him I should find my spirit straightened, I am not to conclude that my friend is dead, and therefore the Lord will not assist me in praying for him any longer.

Once more: A remarkable dream has sometimes been thought as decisive as any of the foregoing methods of knowing the will of God. That many wholesome and seasonable admonitions have been received in dreams, I willingly allow; but, though they may be occasionally noticed, to pay a great attention to dreams, especially to be guided by them, to form our sentiments, conduct, or expectations, upon them, is superstitious and dangerous. The promises are not made to those who dream, but to those who watch.

Upon the whole, though the Lord may give to some persons, upon some occasions, a hint or encouragement out of the common way; yet expressly to look for and seek his direction in such things as I have mentioned, is unscriptural and ensnaring. I could fill many sheets with a detail of the inconveniences and evils which have followed such a dependence, within the course of my own observation. I have seen some presuming they were doing God service, while acting in contradiction to his express commands. I have known others infatuated to believe a lie, declaring themselves assured, beyond the shadow of a doubt, of things which, after all, never came to pass; and when at length disappointed, Satan has improved the occasion to make them doubt of the plainest and most important truths, and to account their whole former experience a delusion. By these things weak believers have been stumbled, cavils and offences against the Gospel multiplied, and the ways of truth evil spoken of.

But how then may the Lord's guidance be expected? After what has been premised negatively, the question may be answered in a few words. In general, he guides and directs his people, by affording them, in answer to prayer, the light of his Holy Spirit, which enables them to understand and to love the Scriptures. The word of God is not to be used as a lottery; nor is it designed to instruct us by shreds and scraps, which, detached from their proper places, have no determinate import; but it is to furnish us with just principles, right apprehensions to regulate our judgements and affections, and thereby to influence and direct our conduct. They who study the Scriptures, in an humble dependence upon divine teaching, are convinced of their own weakness, are taught to make a true estimate of everything around them, are gradually formed into a spirit of submission to the will of God, discover the nature and duties of their several situations and relations in life, and the snares and temptations to which they are exposed. The word of God dwells richly in them, is a preservative from error, a light to their feet, and a spring of strength and consolation. By treasuring up the doctrines, precepts, promises, examples, and exhortations of Scripture, in their minds, and daily comparing themselves with the rule by which they walk, they grow into an habitual frame of spiritual wisdom, and acquire a gracious taste, which enables them to judge of right and wrong with a degree of readiness and certainty, as a musical ear judges of sounds. And they are seldom mistaken, because they are influenced by the love of Christ, which rules in their hearts, and a regard to the glory of God, which is the great object they have in view.

In particular cases, the Lord opens and shuts for them, breaks down walls of difficulty which obstruct their path, or hedges up their way with thorns, when they are in danger of going wrong, by the dispensations of his providence. They know that their concernments are in his hands; they are willing to follow whither and when he leads; but are afraid of going before him. Therefore they are not impatient: because they believe, they will not make haste, but wait daily upon him in prayer; especially when they find their hearts most engaged in any purpose or pursuit, they are most jealous of being deceived by appearances, and dare not move farther or faster than they can perceive his light shining upon their paths. I express at least their desire, if not their attainment: thus they would be. And though there are seasons when faith languishes, and self too much prevails, this is their general disposition; and the Lord, whom they serve, does not disappoint their expectations. He leads them by a right way, preserves them from a thousand snares, and satisfies them that he is and will be their guide even unto death.

I am. &c

Parents And Youth Pastors

Wintery Knight recently posted some comments from a youth pastor in Canada. I don't agree with everything the pastor says, and I'm not in much of a position to judge some of his comments. But I agree with a lot of what he says, and I think there is a tendency to criticize churches too much and not criticize parents enough.

That may be due, in part, to the fact that the Bible often holds religious leaders (priests, Pharisees, etc.) to such a high degree of responsibility for the evils in a culture. However, the fact that religious leaders have often been at the forefront of societal problems in the past doesn't prove that we should always assume that they're primarily responsible for problems in the modern world. For one thing, our circumstances today are significantly different. In a nation like the United States or Canada, the large majority of people are literate. We live in an information age, in which people have easy and free or inexpensive access to a lot of information. Etc. In some ways, people aren't as dependent on church leaders today as they were in the past. The degree to which different groups are to blame for societal problems differs from one context to another, and I think religious leaders often get too much blame today while others aren't blamed as much as they ought to be.

Here are some of the youth pastor's comments:

Sending children to a youth ministry is pointless if the parents aren’t actively discipling their kids during the week. Christianity just won’t stick. For example, why do the kids of most immigrants lose the mother tongue of their parents? Well, because they spend at least 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, at school taught in English. All their friends speak English. All the media they watch and listen to is in English. The only time they even hear their mother tongue is at home. And unless the parents make a concerted effort to teach the language and to emphasize its importance, the child will lose the language. They may understand it. But they will barely be able to speak it, it won’t impact their lives, and they will most definitely not pass it on to their kids.

The same thing goes for Christianity. If the parents aren’t actively, every day, teaching and discipling their kids in Christianity it’s content and its importance then there is almost no point in sending them to a youth ministry. If the parents aren’t every day praying with their kids, teaching them how to share their faith, giving them good reasons to be Christians, etc. they are not being good Christian parents....

It has been my experience that the youth with non-Christian parents are often much stronger Christians than those youth who have Christian parents who are failing as Christian parents (which is most of them). See, a youth with non-Christian parents has a good reason for why their parents don’t disciple them in Christianity: they’re non-Christians! Thus, the bad example of the parents only reinforces in the youth that they need to use their own initiative to learn about the Christian faith. But if a youth has Christian parents, and the Christian faith isn’t the most important thing in the parents lives, the youth is going to learn that Christianity is really not that important. If the parents never read their Bible, the youth is going to think that is acceptable. If the parents emphasize school more than Christ, the youth is going to think school is more important, no matter what the parents say about Jesus. If the parents emphasize sports more than Christ, the youth is going to think sports are more important, no matter what the parents say about Jesus. The hypocrisy of the parents will destroy their child’s faith….

As a final point, I’m not saying youth or children ministry is pointless. It is incredibly important. Let me say it again: youth ministry is incredibly important. But there is no reason to spend thousands of dollars hiring a youth pastor in a church that doesn’t already have parents doing their job. Until that happens, save your funds, and use dedicated lay leaders.