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This Month's Scripture Verse:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For November 25, 2015

A preface for this edition of Comments Which Conservative Block...

  1. Please note that the same amount of editing that goes into a regular blogpost is not put into the comments. Thus there will be more errors in the posts of this series than the other posts on this blog. So please be patient when coming across those errors.
  2. The size of the posts in this series will gradually get larger because I am blocked from commenting on more blogs now by administrators. I inquired as why the latest website blocked my comments but received no answer. So judge for yourself why I would be blocked.

Nov 17

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost about a 2-Kingdom approach to the law. This appeared in hiedelblog.

Let's be honest, though what the Westminster divines said about the godhead and soteriology could be adequately described as being  less influenced by  culture and more influenced by the Scriptures, the same cannot necessarily be said about the second table of the law. For example, what is missed in the quoting of the Westminster divines is Chapter 23:3 of the Westminster confession are the statements saying that kings were to punish blasphemies, heresies, and corruptions. The end effect was so that all of the 'ordinances of God' be observed. The above contains a  modern adjustment to WCF 23:3 not what the divines wrote..

We should also note how Calvin implemented the 2 kingdoms. For he had no qualms about finding, prosecuting, and persucting to the point of death those who were witches or heretics. So the question is how much do we want to use Calvin as a guide for what the Church should expect from or demand of the state. We should also note in his writings against the Jews, Luther, a 2ker in his own right, called on German society and princesses to punish the Jews for their continued unbelief.

We should note that regarding the law, Acts 15:10 makes a general statement about the whole law within the historical context of the Church determining whether a ceremonial part of the law requiring circumcision should be practiced. Vs 10 clearly states that the Church should not require its members to follow a law that nobody had kept up until that time including the apostles with the exception of Jesus of course. Thus we saw a letting go of the ceremonial law because of how it foreshadowed Christ's passion and an adjusted version of the civil law that was made far more flexible than what was stated in the Torah, rather than total elimination of it, as well as the requirement of the 10 commandments. Here we should note that some reformers, such as Martin Luther,  believed that keeping the law concerning the Sabbath was not in effect in the literal way that other reformers who were following Calvin believed.

But such brings us to the Christian "theonomists" some who are said to be on the left and others on the right. The problem here is that not all Christians on the left who call for justices are theonomists nor are they looking for some Messianic age. Some are merely looking for how we can improve life on this earth and thus take a more flexible approach to the civil laws, much like the NT Church did only the Left focuses on societal sins rather than personal sins. We should note that some of those civl laws were applications of God's moral laws especially laws that prohibited murder and theft. So what many on the Christian left did was to extract principles inherent in many of the civil laws that revolved around the prohibition against murder and theft and applied them to their respective societies rather than enforce them completely and literally.

Now it is true that Marx and many of his earlier followers, especially those who  lived in the early to mid 20th century and before believed in Marx's utopian dreams. Those Christians who mixed Marx with their faith could be accurately described as hodling to state-Messianism. But it would a gross overgeneralization and oversimplification to say that all Christians on the political left expect a state-Messianism. Why? While early Marxists attributed deprivation to the distribution of goods to the bourgeoisie, others focused on the building of community within the state as well as holding to what Chomsky calls the principle of universality. That principle states that how we judge others is how we should judge ourselves and vice-versa. This applied to what we gave ourselves license to in how we treated others as well as what we prohibited others from doing to us. 

Martin Luther King Jr., a person who opposed Marx but recognized the legitimat issues he was bringing to the table did well in describing the basic fault that could be applied to both socialist and capitalist approaches to society. King stated that if we are going to be on the correct side of the 'moral revolution,' our society must be a 'person-oriented society' rather than a 'thing-oriented society.' We should note her that King's move away from materialism is more consistent on socialism than capitalism. And such should raise red flags for Christians living in Capitalist economies.

Finally, we should note the serious flaw that exists in reformed 2KT. That serious flaw is that while the Church is free to beat up on the consciences of individual believers for their personal sins, the Church has no right to correct society torcorporate sins sins. And with the conservative Church's obsession with sexual sins,  the Reformed Church dishonors the Gospel not by trying to legally prohibit some new sexual sins while remaining mute over issues of slavery and imperialism with some empires being at least partially build on human exploitation and theft of land.


Nov 18

To Russell Moore and his blogpost asking if whether we should pray that ISIS be converted or defeated. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website

Can we  pray for both? The article above is correct in answering with a yes.  As a group, we should want ISIS to be defeated. But since ISIS consists of individual people, shouldn't we want these people to believe in Jesus? That we should is an excellent point made in the article above. We should note that Martin Luther King Jr took a two-prong approach to his enemies. He wanted to win them over. But for those who refused  to be won over King wanted their behavior to be controlled to be controlled by the law.

At the same time, we can never afford to forget about the Wests's legacy of practicing its own evil in order to gain oil, profits, and strategic advantages.


To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost on Christians being called exiles and strangers in this world. This appeared in Heidelblog

I think most of what was written above was good. But the following line needs more refinement:

Our most ultimate citizenship is in heaven but our citizenship in this world is truly important. 

Some have used that important worldly citizenship as a justification for treating people who share their own ethnic or national identity with preference over those who don't.


Nov 19

To Gaye Clark and her blogpost of when they helped an African-American woman with some problems by having the woman live with them. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website

One of the most important lines written in this article is below:

Racism is better understood when experienced than when explained.

That is especially true when we have a stake in having racism no longer being an issue. The other parts of the article are important to but in a different way. One of the things we must constantly draw people's attention to is the continued existence of racism.


Nov 20

To Benjamin Watson and his blogpost about racism. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

We should note that racism is nothing more than another form of tribalism. Other forms of tribalism include nationalism, classism, ideological tribalism, and religious tribalism. Tribalism includes believing that one's own group is superior. Watson mentions this above with regard to race. But we should oppose the other forms of tribalism as much as we oppose racism. And racism must be opposed as strongly as possible.

According to Martin Luther King Jr., there is one more part of racism that was not included above. In speaking against the Vietnam War, King said the following:

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

So according to King, we will have racism for as long as we count things as being more important than people. That is something for a consumer society to think about.


To Joe Carter and his blogpost on what we should know about Syrian refugees in the light of the attacks on Paris. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

There is something else we should note about the Syrian refugee problem and it has to do with the attacks on Paris. According to a recent Washington Post article, not one of the known attackers were from Syria. Rather, they were all citizens of Europe.


To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost quote of William Buckley Jr as he criticized Yale’s economics education for not glorifying the individual. This appeared in the Heidelblog

So is Buckley saying that it is less idolatrous to glorify the individual, disparage government and community for that matter, play in the hunger games, and to encourage self-reliance while denying the interdependencies that are inherent in the system?


Nov 21

To Caleb Greggsen and his blogpost that comments on terrorism and its effects. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

There is one more response to terrorism that is necessary, but not mentioned. That response is when it is your own country that is practicing terrorism against others. What about our drone missile attacks that either cause collateral damage or, perhaps, target innocent civilians? What should a Christian's response be to those?

And if we are going to include Christians being beaten or robbed as acts of terrorism, why not include when our own government supports brutal dictators who beat and imprison their citizens for political reasons?


Nov 23

To John Courts and his blogpost associating the Syrian Refugee problem with the Arab Spring movement in that nation and quoting an Orthodox Church official who stated that Arab Spring was the result of misguided American foreign policies. This appeared in the Acton blog.

Misguided American policies caused the Arab Spring? That is difficult to believe since American policies backed those with power with whom they were doing lucrative foreign aid business. That was certainly true in Egypt and in Tunisia. It wasn't true in Syria since Russia cornered the military aid market there. And American policies didn't start the Arab Spring in Tunisia. That started with self-immolation of one of its citizens and that was precipitated by living conditions.

The Arab Spring in Syria was inspired by successes in Tunisia and Egypt, but became violent in response to the government's  violent response including the conducting of a massacre. Other groups joined including some in the military that took the original peaceful movement into a violent reactionary direction.

Btw, we should note that the Ocuupy Movement started in places like Tunisia and Egypt and that includes Occupy Wall Street (OWS). The preparation for OWS on Sept 17, 2011 occurred prior to the event when activisits from places like the Middle East and Spain came over here to teach activists how to make decisions and run meetings. I remember my first participation in the Global Justice Working group of OWS because of what seemed then to be almost a majority of people having come from other nations, particularly Middle East nations.

But here, we should also consider the source. As in Egypt, except when the Muslim Brotherhood was in control, the state Church, that is the Orthodox Church, has supported a strong-arm dictator simply because that dictator provided protection for the Church. Thus, out of self-interest, the Church in Syria, that is another Orthodox Church, has supported a tyranical regime because that regime kept it safe from religious extremism. Perhaps, this is just one of the reasons why some in Syria's civil war want to target Christians. With the help of these Christians, they have associated the Church with a brutal tyrant.


To Joe Carter and his article about what we should know about the Syrian refugee controversy. This appeared in the Acton Blog.

Perhaps Carter should update his sources. According to a Washington Post article, an article that is more recent than the one Carter cited regarding the refugee-attacker with the Syrian Passport, all known participants in the Paris attack were Europeans. A fake Syrian passport was found and its appearance is now believed to be the result of the attackers's attempt to throw off the investigators regarding their identity. A link to the Washington Post article I am referring to is below:


Editor's note: Please see more recent news articles than the one linked to above to see if any Syrian refugees have been implicated in the Paris Attacks. The date of the article linked to above is November 17


To Matt Smethurst and his blogpost on how Christian history can benefit us. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

What is missing in this blogpost is the obvious that Church history can also disillusion us. Yes, this article is about how Church history can benefit us. But a warning label about how it can also disillusion us or, at best, teach us that we are all sinners must be attached to any legitimate church history study. When we consider the political maneuvering, intolerance, and violence practiced by Church leaders and heros throughout the history of the Church, it is sometimes more difficult to be inspired by them than to be repulsed. I experienced this reaction as I occasionally taught a World Religions class when I use to teach. 

And there doesn't seem to be much difference in the Church's behavior today as the Church latches on to political parties leaders that show them favoritism even though the same visits violence and injustice on its own citizens and abroad.


To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost telling us to silently submit to the civil authorities regardless of how unjust they are. This appeared in Heidelblog.

Besides the gross generalizations made about student protesters and Islamists (a.k.a., Muslims), I've protested with both and found your descriptions to be wanting in even the majority of instances I've been involved in, you given contradictory insturctions regarding our submission to the civile authorities. See, on the one hand you tell us to silently submit to even the most unrighteous authorities and yet you tell us to lell us to love everyone, including those who are suffering even gross injustices at the hands of the same authorities. And you do so forgetting the different historical context in which we find ourselves from the time of the apostles.

I know there is an exception to your rule here. That exception would be if the authorities told us to disobey God. And we have the examples of Daniel, Meshack, Shadrack, Abendigo, as well as the Apostles, to name a few,  to thank for that.

But what about when we see a civil authority practicing injustice. Are we to silently submit to that injustice and let others be harmed and abused? See, how is it that we can silently submit to authorities unrighteously oppress our neighbors while loving our neighbors at the same time? After all, you did tell us to love others. And how is it that we can honor the government and not tell them that they are practicing injustice?

Now you have already stated that Paul and Peter gave us these instructions under some of the worse circumstances and there is no argument there. But if honoring the Lord is an important reason for the Christians to obey the Civil Authorities back then regardless of how horrible they were, does doing the same today honor the Lord or does it cause outsiders to not want  to listen to the Gospel or even want to persecute Christians? If you don't believe the latter situation, please realize that one of the reasons why Christians have been persecuted in places like Syria and Egypt is because they support tryanical leaders in exchange for security. Here, Christians invite those in the Middle East to oppose them for their support for Israel. And in the old South, remember that Christians not only supported slavery at one time, they supported Jim Crow and it was civil disobedience that helped eliminate the latter.

If we were to never disobey the civil authorities as they practiced injustice, how would Moses have survived childhood? How would the OT prophets have challenged their kings and their nation about the injustices they were practicing? 

And what about the change in historical context between then and now? After all, were not the Apostles first concerned about the spreading of what was to the world then an unknown Gospel. So Paul used his impriosnment to go to Rome to preach. And Peter told people to submit so as to not bring dishonor to the Gospel. Well, hasn't the Gospel been spread throughout the world? And aren't we living in democracies now so that we are at least partially responsible for the sins of the state officials we elected? And since when has remaining silent in the face of gross injustices brought honor to the Gospel or has been a way of loving one's neighbor who is being unjustly treated?

It seems to me that the hermeneutic that says we are silently submit to unjust gov'ts today is one that reduces God's description of our relationship to gov't to that which was preached by Peter and  Paul while forgetting the rest of the Scriptures as well as not applying all of the Scriptures to new historical contexts to both the state of the Gospel in the world as well as the new responsibilities Christians have in democratic societies.

On the other hand, we have some nonChristians who, out of love for neighbor, challenge the government when it oppresses others and thus risks the consequences of so doing. This leads to two questions. First, how is it that our neighbor will, under these circumstances, not perceive the nonChristians as being more loving and outer-directed than the Christian? And how is it that Conservative Christianity, for the most part, has fashioned a practical theology that tells its followers to support status quos that benefit those with wealth and power while remaining silent about their sins? In other words, and in the words of some of my liberal and leftist friends, how is it that the Conservative Church has become anything else than an institution of indoctrination to maintain the status quo for the benefit of those with wealth and power? Perhaps if you just loved your neighbor, you would have interpreted Scriptures more accurately than what is done in the article above.

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