Tag Archives: Christian

—More on the Truth Project

1 Corinthians 2:14

14The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

We watched the 4th or 5th episode in the series The Truth Project  from Focus on the Family[http://www.thetruthproject.org/] with the Sunday School class yesterday,  which focused on evolutionary theory, Intelligent Design, and philosophical and scientific ideas on these topics. 

Class members appeared to agree that species change, adapt to their environments, appear, and disappear [I feel that requiring God to have created a static Universe to accommodate our literary comprehension is also a mistake].   It is the replacement of the Creator with a statistical fluctuation that  defies reason and sober judgment.  Worse, modern science has adopted as dogma that the Universe must not have been Designed—and will not tolerate questions that confront this principle, in defiance of its own most fundamental ethos. 

Moreover, the narrator of the series didn’t begin to plumb the depths of the preposterous conclusions necessary to omit God from our understanding of the Universe.  I have seen a number of additional examples– Richard Dawkins, who was mentioned several times in the episode, figures prominently in several:

“VOICES OF SCIENCE – Available Now on DVD
Richard Dawkins, Steven Weinberg, Lawrence Krauss, PZ Myers, David Buss
Four fascinating discussions between Richard Dawkins and some of today’s top scientists.”  http://richarddawkins.net/articles/2868

Steven Weinberg, who is required to conclude that it’s still a stochastic fluctuation, regardless:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropic_principle

One of my favorites, which shows that the spontaneous appearance of self-aware beings from nothing in the middle of nowhere is actually >more likely< than 6 billion sentient observers randomly showing up on a nondescript, rocky backwater planet:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boltzmann_brain

[The presence of this species is thermodynamically preposterous.  Please stop existing all over our tidy Universe.]

Then there’s Steven Hawking’s “Top-Down Cosmology”, a quantum-mechanical abstraction that requires that the history of the Universe is being written as—or because?—we observe it, which means that we are creating the Universe as we speak, but the possibility that an intelligent Creator ever did so must apparently be excluded as contradicting scientific >dogma<:

“Hawking is now pushing a different strat­egy, which he calls top-down cosmology.  It is not the case, he says, that the past uniquely determines the present. Because the universe has many possible histories and just as many possible beginnings, the present state of the universe selects the past. “This means that the histories of the Universe depend on what is being measured,” Hawking wrote in a recent paper, “contrary to the usual idea that the Universe has an objective, observer-independent history.””
http://discovermagazine.com/2009/jul-aug/11-stephen-hawking-is-making-his-comeback/article_view?b_start:int=3&-C=

Another summary of the concepts above:
“God or a multiverse?”
  By Mark Vernon on Tuesday, December 9 2008, 08:16 – Science
http://www.markvernon.com/friendshiponline/dotclear/index.php?post/2008/12/09/1174-god-or-a-multiverse

“Quantum physics says goodbye to reality”:
http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/27640

My earlier weblog comments on these articles:
—On Science
https://savageutopia.wordpress.com/2007/10/14/336/
—Some Other Questions[—Integrity? and/or a failure to communicate?]
https://savageutopia.wordpress.com/2008/05/05/some-other-questions-2/
—It’s Science Again 

https://savageutopia.wordpress.com/2008/12/15/its-science-again/

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—Thanksgiving…Really!

We are now officially living in “interesting times”.  Everything seems to be in a state of collapse—government, law, morals, ethics, personal judgement, democracy, religion, public trust, and just about anything else people ever placed their faith in, except the one thing which people can put their faith in.  The more we explore with our science and technology, the less sense the Universe makes.  The more we legislate and adjudicate with our “common sense” and “wisdom”, the fouler and more despicable our public institutions become.   The whole world economy is on the precipice of an abyss, at a time when the most powerful government in history is in the hands of people who apparently think its destruction is a good idea—a prelude to some witless notion of a “revolution” which has already failed miserably everywhere else it’s been tried.

It not just that everything humanity depends on is falling apart—-nothing humans depend on ever worked in the first place.   It just that now even our collective delusions of civilization are disintegrating.

And so, I am thankful beyond adequate words that God in His mercy has provided something we can depend on, and hope for, and look forward to, and which we can be joyful in even as we speak:

Romans 8:37-39 (New International Version)

37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

—APA: No Choice for Homosexuals

 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NIV)

9Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.  [my emphasis]

Psychologists Reject Gay-to-Straight ‘Therapy’ – Health News | Current Health News | Medical News – FOXNews.com

The APA, of course, is speaking from political expedience rather than any sort of scientific or professional rigor.  Like “justice” in America, “science” is whatever makes important people feel more important—almost always at the expense of making some other group feel less important.   

How do you know you’re dealing with charlatans?  It’s the oldest trick in the quack’s little black bag;  the “science cannot prove” dodge:— “There’s no evidence… ” a proponent of the APA report says, that remedial therapy is of any use for those whose homosexual tendencies conflict with their religious beliefs. 

The report advises “…therapies that do not attempt to change sexual orientation, but rather involve acceptance, support and identity exploration and development “.  

When advocates of various sorts of sexual “diversity” first began to co-opt the momentum of the Civil Rights movement of the ’60’s and ’70’s (I first heard these sorts of arguments at the U. of Texas, in around ’73), they steered public consciousness down a dark alley.   As far back as the early ’80’s, we were already seeing attempts by advocates of pedophilia to construe themselves as a disadvantaged “lifestyle”.  The collective decision of politically influential people and groups to go in this direction will have—actually already have had— consequences—what sorts of other behavior will receive public acclaim and advocacy next?  There are, in fact, studies which almost reasonably argue that murderers and other criminals are genetically predisposed—have a “natural tendency” —to their “lifestyle”.  I mean, why not? 

Of course, Paul’s list in 1 Corinthians (the Biblical letter, not the South American soccer club) includes all sorts of behaviors, in addition to homosexuality, which are destructive to the Church and society in general;  thieves, swindlers, and even malicious gossipers are included.  Paul also makes no distinction of the degree of evil these behaviors represent, and they all have the same outcome.  Those practicing these things will destroy themselves, unless they repent and pursue God’s way (see also Phillipians 3:12-14 ).  Paul makes it clear that people in the Church at Corinth had been guilty of the behaviors listed, but that faith in Christ had brought them out of those things.  Now they are new people (2 Corinthians 5:17), and the old, destructive ways no longer enslave them. 

Political and social expedience has had its say in the matter, and has proved to be a complete waste of time and peoples’ lives for centuries—“maybe it will work this time”, but it’s not a good bet. 

Jesus gave us a way to set aside behaviors and ways of thinking that can only destroy us, and move toward rescue and rebirth, hope and a new life, safely guided by His Spirit toward an eternal home.   Ignore what the “important people” say—we have a choice!

—Health Care Debate: Morally Bankrupt vs. Habitually Evil

My Way News – Analysis: Obama facing tough choice on health care

Why is everyone missing the point?  Let me try to explain:

My father became seriously ill one night in the late ’90’s, and was taken to the hospital in Orange, Texas.  I didn’t rush over to see about things, because there was no indication of urgency.  I have some experience in the life sciences, and there is at least a remote chance that I might have been able to prevent the fiasco that transpired, if I had the seething distrust and loathing of the medical profession then that I have now. 

The small-town hospital didn’t know what to do, and transferred him to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Beaumont.  It was the weekend, and the “B” team  on call made a classical medical blunder—they misdiagnosed congestive heart failure as pneumonia. 

The cardiac team that moved in to clean up—or rather cover up—the blunder went into hard-core damage control mode.  Our attempts to get information on my father’s condition deteriorated into several screaming matches with the cardiac professionals and the hospital administrator.  They punished our insolence by declaring that my father had contracted an antibiotic-resistant bacterial strain so they could put him in isolation and restrict our attempts to visit him.  He was, by this time, on a ventilator and a constant feed of morphine (which is how they keep elderly patients quiet until the insurance runs out).   

Rather than watch my father murdered slowly,  I next attempted to have him transferred to any of several hospitals in Houston, where most of the family lives.  This would have required a physician in Houston to take over his case.  All refused out of hand, including physicians who are prominent in our Church and have known us for years.  It would have required some physician to go against the wishes of a very prominent cardiac group in Beaumont, and nobody would have anything to do with our request.

My mother wanted to take him home to care for him, which would have been nearly impossible.  Thus, I made my second critical mistake in dealing with my father’s final illness.  I suggested that we get a doctor from nearby Port Arthur to come by and see him in the hospital and give us an independent opinion on his condition and recommendations for his further care.  A doctor I called agreed to see him the next day.  I actually thought we had reason to hope that we could then get him transferred to a non-demon-spawned medical institution.

So, still foolishly believing that even the monstrously evil medical professionals we had been screaming at in desperation to stop them from torturing my father to death would have some vestigial level of humanity,  I left my father in that Hell-hole of a hospital for one more night.  Worse,  I actually faxed the hospital administrator to tell him that a doctor outside the Beaumont cardiac establishment would be stopping by to see my father. 

It never occurred to me that they would just murder him.  But they did, and I was told the next morning that he had died—at just about the time they would have arrived in their offices, and read that message on the fax machine, plus—presumably—the time it would have taken to drop by his room and give him a little extra morphine. 

They did suffer a brief period of evident panic when I demanded an autopsy.  (There were nervous phone calls, and threats to make us pay for it.)  My mother couldn’t face the prospect, however. 

Strangely, every law firm I contacted about the situation was somehow involved with the very prominent cardiac care group responsible and couldn’t represent us.  Other family members finally couldn’t take anymore, and the matter was dropped, at least from the standpoint of mere temporal, human justice.

——

In later years, I have visited terminally ill, long-term care patients often enough to learn how you can tell when the insurance coverage is about to run out.  You see, the hospital chaplain comes around, to fret with the family that the patient “just needs to let go”. 

——

Recently, we tried to help a family friend who couldn’t work because of multiple strokes, and has no health care benefits.  Since the friend had to depend on municipal charities for her considerable medical expenses, she had to go to Ben Taub Hospital in Houston on two occasions when she suffered serious psychiatric breakdowns (One involved threatening her clinic physician).  On both occasions, we left her in the care of the alleged charity hospital, only to have her discharged by the staff within hours.  Apparently they deduced some sort of miraculous cure, and dumped her out in the lobby.

——

So it is not without some experience in the matter of health care in America that I have concluded that the Great Health Care Debate is irrelevant and fraudulent at best, and Hell’s joke on the human race at worst.  I said earlier that private health care would leave you out in the street to die if you couldn’t pay, while government managed heath care would leave you out in the street to die if they found you politically unreliable.  Neither is an acceptable model of anything which should be mistaken for humane, responsible, competent medical care.  The powerful will continue to torment and abuse the weak as they have done for centuries, no matter who pretends to pay for the process for whatever political or economic advantage.

The foundation of caring for the sick, poor, and helpless among us is not to be found in actuarial tables or economic-management models, however cutting-edge they might seem at the time.  An evil people will always produce evil results, special professional oaths to the contrary notwithstanding. 

Jesus knew us for the evil beings we were in His day, and how much more evil we would be able to accomplish later when augmented with superior technology.  He gave us the Law which actually works, from the God Who Actually Exists, and His Life in our place, so that a relative handful of us might avoid the most permanent consequences:

Matthew 22:37-39 (New International Version)

37Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

—PBS: "Michelangelo Revealed"

Secrets of the Dead » Michelangelo Revealed: Chapter 1 | PBS

This was a shock.  PBS has mostly deteriorated into radical political news hours and Lawrence Welk reruns.  It was stunning to happen upon this three-part program (which can be streamed from the web site), which includes a very politically-incorrect critical review of Roman Catholicism. 

The series centers on the research of art historian Antonio Forcellino, who proposes that the great artist was part of an underground reform movement which sought to introduce Protestant reforms into the Catholic church from within.  He believes that a number of Michelangelo’s prominent works show definite anti-Catholic sentiment.  The Last Judgement , for example, portrays interaction between Heaven and men, without the traditional intervention of any prominent Popes or other clergy.  There are strange features in the tomb of Julius II which are inconsistent with Catholic dogma, including a last-minute recarving of Moses’ head to look away from the altar, the instrument of the Catholic hierarchy. 

[The account here of Michelangelo’s work on St. Peter’s Basilica differs dramatically from the one in the guide books you would get on a tour.  I thought that he was so well-off and happy to be working for the Catholic church again that he didn’t charge them for the work.]

The real shock, though, especially considering the source, is that the documentary demonstrates a credible understanding of Christian antipathy for Roman Catholic dogma and theocracy.  I didn’t know they had it in them….

—The Church, Part 2

John 13:35 

35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”(NIV)

Colossians 3:12-14 

12Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.(NIV)

What is the Church supposed to be?  It is the Assembly or Congregation of the redeemed in Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit of the Living God.  We have the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels, Luke’s history of the Acts of the Apostles and the 1st-Century Churches,  and the letters of the Apostles and others to those Churches.  How do the practices of Churches today—scattered as they are among the numerous factions and denominations—compare with Jesus’ stated intention for His Church?

We find ourselves separated from the practices of the Church recorded in the New Testament and the authoritative writings of the first few centuries after Christ, on the far side of a 1,000-year gulf (approximately the span from the formal declaration of religious supremacy by Leo I in the 5th Century to the Reformation in the 16th) of a deliberate deception which attempted to drown out  the faith which more direct forms of persecution had only made stronger.   It is hard to sort out which of the components of the modern Church are constructive Spiritual guidance, and which are old habits formed from previous generations of state-sponsored misdirection.  

But a Spiritually sound and productive Church is not a matter of religious practice or ceremony.  Paul gives us a concise summary in Romans, chapter 14,  of the role of such “disputable matters” as special days and dietary restrictions in the life of the Church.  They are to be tolerated for the well-being of the Spiritually-less-mature, who might otherwise be harmed in their formative stages by confusion or temptation, but they are hardly the defining purpose of the Church. 

Neither is Church a matter of merely resuming the literal pattern of the early Church as recorded in Acts and the Apostles’ writings.   As our local pastor has pointed out, the Churches spoken of in the New Testament were often at least as dysfunctional and self-destructive as modern congregations.   We can easily understand Paul’s anger in letters to the Corinthian and Galatian Churches.  When left on their own, these immature congregations quickly toddled away from the Spirit’s direction and into serious trouble.  The Revelation of John begins with cautions to key Churches against doctrinal failings and loss of fervor.   Almost all of the letters from the Apostles have to warn their audiences against falling away, favoritism to the rich and powerful, superficial and lifeless faith, being distracted by defective doctrine.  Then, as now, Churches were made up of “busted”, defective people who struggled to set aside the old ways, and take their places in the new Creation.

Modern Churches, Protestant or other (some are opposed to the idea of being derived by separation from Roman Catholicism rather than legitimate Scriptural and Spiritual heritage), almost always retain the carefully scripted weekly “stage show” format, with songs, recitations, and a speech by a specially trained pastor.  No one in the “audience” would think to interject their own thoughts or feelings or individual Spiritual insight into the sermon (I’ve only actually walked out of one sermon in my life—I still can’t bring myself to talk about its subject).  Our Bible studies (Baptists call them Sunday School) have often lapsed into programmed sales pitches distributed from a central office for the denomination.  And yet, I have met individuals within those rigid, institutional Churches who spoke from genuine Spiritual inspiration, and showed that a real, breathing Church was inside the structure, alive and well.  I have received messages during those formal sermons and even during some of those canned Bible studies that redirected and encouraged me when I needed it most.  Even a busted, deficient Church is a place where people who take God’s purpose seriously gather, and as God has promised, His Spirit is there.

What is the Church supposed to be like?  What makes it alive even when buried under layers of lifeless, institutional pavement?  Jesus calls us His real Family(Mark 3:31-33).   Paul described the function of the Church with that wonderful organic metaphor, as in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 12—all the individuals working to support and build up one another with the individual gifts given them by the Holy Spirit, bound together by Love, unified in the task set for us by Jesus Christ.   Further, we are told:

Ephesians 4:11-16

11It was he [Christ] who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.(NIV)

This is what the Church is.  Everything else is religion.  We have to set aside the things we’ve been told by other people about what Churches are supposed to do and how they are supposed to act, and the historical formalities and ceremonies made by men (Matthew 15:9), and the “pretensions set up against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians 10:5), and submit humbly to the guidance of the Holy Spirit by the grace of God through faith in Jesus, to serve one another in Love.

—The Church, Part 1

2 Chronicles 6:3

וַיַּסֵּב הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶת־פָּנָיו וַיְבָרֶךְ אֵת כָּל־קְהַל יִשְׂרָאֵל וְכָל־קְהַל יִשְׂרָאֵל עֹומֵד׃ [BHS]

καὶ ἐπέστρεψεν ὁ βασιλεὺς τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ καὶ εὐλόγησεν τὴν πᾶσαν ἐκκλησίαν ισραηλ καὶ πᾶσα ἐκκλησία ισραηλ παρειστήκει [Septuagint]

2 Chronicles 6:3

While the whole assembly of Israel was standing there, the king turned around and blessed them.(NIV)

Matthew 16:18

κἀγὼ δέ σοι λέγω ὅτι σὺ εἶ Πέτρος, καὶ ἐπὶ ταύτῃ τῇ πέτρᾳ οἰκοδομήσω μου τὴν ἐκκλησίαν, καὶ πύλαι ἅ|δου οὐ κατισχύσουσιν αὐτῆς. [GNT]

Matthew 16:18

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.[NIV]

I have posted in several places here about the continuity of God’s revelation to man from the Patriarchs through the Exodus, to Jesus’ ministry to the Revelation of John. The Truth which God had to teach us in order to save us is so alien to human experience that many of the lessons had to be extremely graphic and often painful—as the experiences of Israel attest. The Congregation, or Assembly of Israel is seen to be a foreshadowing—perhaps we could call it the “demo version”?—of God’s ultimate intention for His Family on earth, the Church established by Grace through Jesus Christ.

If one only reads the English translations of the Bible, though, it is possible to conclude that Jesus has simply made up a new word for an unprecedented institution entirely unique to the religious construction we call Christianity. Extreme literalists apply extreme human logic to such words, and extract (or actually, introduce) such extreme extra-Biblical constructions as Dispensationalism. The Congregation of Israel is held to be so literally unique and separate from Jesus’ Church that this logic requires that the Church be “snatched away” so that Israel can come back and finish the events literally prophesied for it. God must be restricted to having acted in ways suitable for human understanding, lest we lose control of our Deity and be forced to submit to personal humility and all those other uncomfortable things Jesus talked that we don’t really want to think about very much.

[Since I have started exploring the Biblical languages, I have actually heard Dispensationalism passionately discussed in terms of the Hebrew and Greek, with arguments about how many Temples there have been (some conclude, apparently, that one is missing), and so on. ]

If we look with appropriate child-like humility at the available Biblical texts in Hebrew and Greek, though, this dichotomy sort of evaporates. In the example from 2 Chronicles, Solomon blesses the “whole Assembly of Israel”, the Cal Qahal Israel. The Septuagint—the authoritative translation of the Hebrew Bible (which we call the Old Testament) into Greek—here translates the phrase as πᾶσα ἐκκλησία ισραηλ. In the Gospel of Matthew , in response to Peter’s Spiritually-inspired declaration of Jesus as the Messiah, Jesus establishes μου τὴν ἐκκλησίαν”My Assembly”, which is usually translated into English as “My Church”.

This is not a logical proof of concept. Elsewhere in the Septuagint, as in Numbers 14:5, qahal is translated as συναγωγῆς.   In fact, since we are told that Jesus probably often spoke in Aramaic , even the Greek text of our New Testament should likely be considered a translation of His words.  There are no rational or logical proofs of these things, because they have to be “Spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).   Spiritually, this ekklesia of the Old ways is completed by Jesus in the New—like everything else in God’s Plan.   It is God’s Family in Christ (John 1:12, Mark 3:31-34) built on the power of the Holy Spirit in each of us—-as it was with His revelation to Peter and the  inner circle of His disciples so long ago.

[Dictionary.com relates the origins of the English word “Church” from several sources (which, of course, I looked up after I searched through texts in three different languages and wrote this). For example:

Middle English chirche, from Old English cirice, ultimately from Medieval Greek kūrikon, from Late Greek kūriakon (dōma), the Lord’s (house), neuter of Greek kūriakos, of the lord, from kūrios, lord; see keuə– in Indo-European roots.

Church
Derived probably from the Greek kuriakon (i.e., “the Lord’s house”), which was used by ancient authors for the place of worship. In the New Testament it is the translation of the Greek word ecclesia, which is synonymous with the Hebrew _kahal_ of the Old Testament, both words meaning simply an assembly, the character of which can only be known from the connection in which the word is found. There is no clear instance of its being used for a place of meeting or of worship, although in post-apostolic times it early received this meaning.]

—Former Hamas Member Receives Jesus

FOXNews.com – Son of Hamas Leader Gives Glimpse Into Terror Organization

[I’m recording the referenced Foxnews documentary on Yousef now.  I hope to learn additional details soon.]

This is a remarkable story by just about any standard—elaborated in more detail in a Fox News TV special.  Mosab Hassan Yousef became so disillusioned by what he saw of the inner workings of the Hamas organization that he left the group.  He relates in the TV documentary that a Christian tourist in Jerusalem invited him to read the Bible, where he heard the remarkable phrase “…love your enemy….”.  He has now done the unthinkable—converted to Christianity and moved to the United States.  He also tells a lot of details about what Hamas and radical Islam are really like.