Wednesday, April 30, 2008
There's no doubt that "big oil" likes the BIG profits they are getting due to the low supply/high demand market for gasoline these days. Yeah, it's called capitalism. We only consider their profits "obscene" because the media and politicians WANT us to. In fact, a fact that is often conveniently left out, Big Oil has relatively LOW profit margins, and relatively HIGH investments in research and development. They only take in about HALF the profits on a gallon of gas vs. the amount of TAXES the government takes in revenue!
So, here's a modest proposal to improve oil prices that would help the economy immensely and in short order.It's TIME for a sensible, straightforward plan to REALLY fix our energy challenges and return our gas to affordable levels.
(1) Congress must FIRST REPEAL the Federal gas tax. That would be 18-20 cents a gallon savings IMMEDIATELY.
(2) Congress should drop ALL restrictions on drilling for oil in Alaska and off the coast of the US, and should allow further exploration in all areas, regions, states and territories to discover more Crude.
(3) Congress should authorize doubling the capacity of our oil refineries in the next decade -- including authorizing subsidies for companies to build them, and shield laws to keep environmentalist wackos from suing to stop them.
(4) Congress should suspend indefinitely EPA regulations demanding dozens of different gasoline formulations due to alleged levels of "pollution" in given cities and regions of the US.
(5) Congress should authorize the construction of at least 25 NEW Nuclear power plants in the next decade -- if FRANCE can do it, WE can do it BETTER.
(6) Congress should authorize the use of coal -- or to covert coal to oil -- for other energy supplies.
IF these changes were implemented, within ONE YEAR gas prices would likely be down to between $1.25-$1.50 a gallon. HOW? Simple. The speculators that are bidding up the price of oil because they EXPECT limited availability would reverse course. The framework upon which they speculate would be jerked out from under them. ALSO, suppliers -- like OPEC -- would realize that we were serious, so they would vastly increase production to create a "glut" of oil to keep us DEPENDENT on them (somewhat akin to how a pusher keeps an addict hooked on heroin or coke). IF we were RESOLUTE, we could persevere and break our habit -- but NO ONE is resolute in Washington about ANYTHING -- except maintaining their own power.
And environmentalists and Liberals need not scream their opposition to this proposal. Your guys are in power. Your policies are working. Common sense is a lost trait. These ideas will never be implemented -- at least until we're using candles and riding horses again...
We need religion as a guide. We need it because we are imperfect, and our government needs the church, because only those that are humble enough to admit they're sinners can bring to democracy the tolerance it requires in order to survive.
- President Ronald W. Reagan
Monday, April 28, 2008
It's treatment errs in that theology (properly understood as "the study of God") CANNOT be understood as "coming from" ANY human perspective, but ONLY from the Revelation of God Himself in His Word! Theology from ANY human source or experience viewed as authoritative is going to OBSCURE the truth of God's revelation, NOT express it.
It's treatment err's in that it makes victims of those who see themselves as the oppressed, and it therefore creates in them the false impression that somehow they are OWED [by God or by others] something in return -- and that this "repayment" may be secured by ANY means. Thus, it justifies whatever it's adherents choose to use as a strategy to achieve their own goals. Necessarily, it ignores or downplays the idea that EVERY human is "carnal, sold under sin," or has "fallen short of the glory of God," and instead insists that renewal must come NOT primarily through a personal spiritual "new birth," but by the political and revolutionary overthrow of current systems and governments. Thus, their belief in and support of Marxism -- and too often violence.
This is a PLAGUE, it is a heresy, and it should be openly confronted as such by the Biblical Church.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Dates: November 6-7, 2008 (Thursday, Friday)
Location: First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Georgia (Johnny Hunt, Pastor)
If you're interested in a critique of each of the five points of Calvinism, here's a conference you may be interested in: John 3:16 Conference.
This conference is not going to be a "Let's bash the Calvinists" conference. This conference is going to be a biblical and theological assessment of and response to 5-point Calvinism. It will be helpful for lay people as well as preachers.
Steve Lemke, one of the speakers, explains:
Southern Baptist scholars will be presenting a Biblical response to the well-known tenets of the Presbyterian Synod of Dort. . . . This conference is intended as a majoritarian Southern Baptist response to the "Building Bridges" and "Together for the Gospel" conferences.
Given the line-up of speakers, it seems geared toward older pastors and lay people within the SBC. Furthermore, it seems that it is only intended to be heard by those who actually attend the conference: "There will be no live or archived audio or video of this conference via the Internet."
It'll be interesting to see the number of attendees. Since it is being held in Johnny Hunt's megachurch, and since most of his people will probably attend, I expect there will probably be at least 7,000 people there. If so, expect the Baptist Press to play up the significance of this number.
Featuring: (exact schedule to be posted later)
John 3:16 - Dr. Jerry Vines
Total Depravity - Dr. Paige Patterson
Unconditional Election - Dr. Richard Land
Limited Atonement - Dr. David Allen
Irresistible Grace - Dr. Steve Lemke
Perseverance of the Saints - Dr. Ken Keathley
John 3:16 to the entire world - Dr. Charles Stanley
FROM JDW: I found this today in my email, and also saw it posted on the Society of Evangelical Arminians website. I have a great deal of respect for Dr. Johnny Hunt -- I've been acquainted with him for over 20 years. Dr. Jerry Vines is one of the Best Preachers I've ever heard/met, as are Dr. Paige Patterson, Dr. Richard Land, and Dr. Charles Stanley. I will likely attend this conference. Anyone want to join me there? I've been to FBC Woodstock a number of times. Besides, it will be FUN to see Southern Baptists come out as Arminians, yet retain that whole "unconditional perseverance of the saints" thing.
We who've BEEN Arminian Baptists should at least SEND a committee to welcome them to our world!
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Bumper stickers tell you a lot about the people who stick them to their cars. The pithy, quaint and sometimes profound little slogans are often packed with humor, meaning, or just frivolity.
I saw a bumper sticker last night that caught my attention -- but not in a good way. I'll see them every now and again. About 6 months ago I saw one that made Christians out to be fascists. So, a couple of times a year, I'll see something like this.
"Jesus Slaves." That's what the sticker said. White background, black type with red outlines. Jesus Slaves.
Now, had there been some context to this statement like Paul's statement, "Likewise he who is called [while] free is Christ's slave," (I Corinthians 7:22b) it would have been one thing. After all, we have been made Christ's slave by our choice. Our willingness to submit is not grievous because, as the Lord says, "My yoke [is] easy and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:30).
But, I think we're all quite certain that was not the meaning of the bumper sticker. This person likely had fallen for the too oft painted picture of a Christianity that demands and requires. You know: “Do this!” “Don’t do that!” “Go there!” “Wear this!” “Never go there!” So many times that’s the FALSE impression people get about Christ and following Him. And unfortunately, many who call themselves His followers have fallen into that same trap of performance. We must DO to earn His merits. We must pay to gain His attention.
I used to be enamored of the same view. Then, I learned the meaning of GRACE. Grace gives when we have nothing to give in return. Grace loves when we are unlovely. Grace FREES when we are enslaved. Grace fills when we are empty and begins to empty us of worldly worries, only to fill us with eternals blessings. That anyone could display a bumper sticker saying “Jesus Slaves” gives ample evidence that they do not KNOW Jesus.
Yes, I can say with Paul, I am a “bondservant for Jesus’ sake” (II Corinthians 4:5). And happily so -- I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Friday, April 18, 2008
Dogs. That's it? The woman was pleading for help with a demon-possessed daughter. And Jesus first speaks not a word to her. Then He tells His disciples He is called to the House of Israel -- and not to DOGS.
I'm partial to dogs. I have two Daschunds. They are sitting with me as I write this. Sweet dogs. But the connotation of the word used by Jesus was anything but an endearing term.
The Jews, while they boasted of being the children of God, gave the name of "dogs" to the heathen, for their idolatry, etc. It was, for lack of a better term, a racial (and spiritual) epithet. An insult. A putdown.
Of course there are obvious eschatological implications in Jesus' words. He had indeed come to offer the Kingdom to Israel. His concern was with the Jews. But, was it necessary for Him to be so derogatory when He finally answered this poor woman?
First, the Jews had no real REASON to boast against this woman or any other Gentile -- they were as guilty of sin before God as were any of the Gentile peoples. Paul details that at length in Romans 1:18-3:23.
Second, If anyone IS justified in calling this woman -- or any other human throughout history! -- as a "dog," it is the Lord Himself. He is the perfect, incarnate Son of God! This woman -- and I, and YOU -- are worse than dogs, lost in our sins, deserving of nothing. Some point out at this point that the Greek term He used meant "lap dog" or "little dog," as opposed to a scavenger dog or attack dog -- but under the circumstances, did that make the term any easier to hear?
Third, and most importantly, real faith -- as seen in this woman's response to the Lord's apparent insult -- is often NOT seen until it is challenged, until it is tried. How would this woman react -- rejection, faithlessness, pride....Acceptance, faith, humilty?
"It's true Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the Master's table." There are only two ways to "amaze" Jesus. The first is unbelief, the second is "great faith." And Jesus was amazed at this woman's great faith. And that faith was rewarded -- her daughter was delivered from demonic possession.
Do we have that kind of faith? Do I? I sometimes doubt it. To apparently be ignored, then seemingly insulted...Could I stick it out and persist in faith as she did? We never hear from this Syrophoenician woman again. She does not grace the pages of scripture beyond this one episode. What an example she leaves us. What great faith we should seek to emulate.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Progressive Rock (often referred to as Prog Rock) came into being in the late 1960's and early 1970's, as some artists wanted to create a form of Rock music that had artistic credibility and also sought to engage the mind. Many of the early artists were British, but Prog Rock has become a global genre in the decades since its appearance on the scene.
The origins of Prog Rock are numerous, and some or all of these elements are identifiable in the various artists of the genre. Contributing styles include psychadelic rock, jazz, [jazz-rock] fusion, blues-rock, hard rock, metal, folk rock, experimental music, electronic art music, classical, free jazz and even some celtic elements.
The musical styles usually emphasized innovative technical and compositional stylings, lyrics that tend to be intricate, meaningful and conceptual, and sometimes based in fantasy, abstract truth and grand over-arching themes.
Pioneers in the Prog Rock genre include groups such as Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Rush, The Moody Blues, King Crimson and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. One would also have to mention groups of that era that -- if not regarded as full on Prog Rock practitioners -- were certainly influenced by and contributed to the genre to some degree, like Kansas, Styx, Asia, and Deep Purple.
The "first wave" of Prog Rock hit it's peak in the late 1970's to the mid-1980's, and then went into decline as musical stylings and popularity changed. Still, there has been a "second wave," identified as "neo-progressive" music, which had it's origins in the late 1980's and early 1990's, that have kept the genre alive and innovative. This decade there has been a resurgence in the genre's popularity in some areas, and with the exposure of more people to the art through the internet (internet radio, youtube, etc). Groups at the forefront of this "new wave" of resurgent progressive rock include Dream Theater, Amaran's Plight, Porcupine Tree, Dominici, Ayreon, Symphony X, and to a lesser extent more popular bands like Queesryche in the 1990's and Tool currently.
One of my personal favorites of the genre is Neal Morse. Morse has always been in Prog Rock, but a few years ago, he was saved. That transformation has translated into several powerful albums (okay, I'm old fashioned -- CD's!) that are as spiritually progressive as they are musically. I would recommend his CD's "?" and "Sola Scriptura." WOW -- good stuff. Prior to his solo efforts, he also performed with Spock's Beard and Transatlatic -- both solid and gifted progressive groups and musical styles.
I think because you find more innovative approaches to music in the Prog Rock genre, you also see more openness among some of its artists to express spiritual themes -- even blatantly Christian ones. My favorite place to hear a great mix of Prog Rock -- old and new -- is MOROW.Com -- a radio station available free through the internet at ITunes. I suppose you can get it via other means at their website as well.
Give it a listen and tell me what you all think.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
During the 3+ years the Separatists remained in Amsterdam, they interacted with a diverse lot of "Christians," including continental Protestants, English religious exiles who'd fled earlier, Anabaptists (aka Mennonites) and many in the Dutch Reformed Church -- including the "Remonstrants," the supporters of Jacobus Arminius).
Many date the first "Baptist" Confession to 1609, when John Smyth penned his "Short Confession," however, by that time it was already clear that Smyth had begun to move toward Anabaptist ideas and beliefs, and his statement didn't represent the sentiments of Helwys and many of the other English Separatists. Thus, Helwys wrote his own "Declaration" in 1611, and within the next year, he and a dozen or so congregants returned to Spitalsfield, England, where they planted the first "Baptist Church."
Below is that Declaration -- I hope it's educational, and I'd enjoy knowing what stands out to you all about it....
A DECLARATION OF FAITH OF ENGLISH PEOPLE REMAINING AT AMSTERDAM IN HOLLAND.
Hebrews 11:6. Without Faith it is impossible to please GOD. Hebrews 11. Romans 14:23. Whatsoever is not of Faith is sin.
To All The Humble minded which love the truth in simplicity Grace and peace.
A DECLARATION, ETC. WE BELEIVE AND CONFESS
1. That there are THREE which bear record in heaven, the FATHER, the WORD, and the SPIRIT; and these THREE are one GOD, in all equality, (1 John 5:7; Philippians 2:5, 6). By whom all things are created and preserved, in Heaven and in Earth. (Genesis 1).
2. That this GOD in the beginning created al things of nothing, (Genesis 1:1) and made man of the dust of the earth, (Genesis 2:7), in his own image, (Genesis 1:27), in righteousness and true Holiness. (Ephesians 4:24); yet being tempted, fell by disobedience. (Ephesians 3:1-7). Through whose disobedience, all men sinned. (Romans 5:12-19). His sin being imputed unto all; and so death went over all men.
3. That by the promised seed of the woman, JESUS CHRIST, [and by] his obedience, al are made righteous. (Romans 5:19). All are made alive, (1 Corinthians 15:22). His righteousness being imputed unto all.
4. That notwithstanding this, men are by nature the Children of wrath, (Ephesians 2:3) born in iniquity and in sin conceived. (Psalm 51:5) Wise to all evil, but to good they have no knowledge. (Jeremiah 4:22). The natural ma perceives not the things of the Spirit of God. (1 Corinthians 2:14). And therefore man is not restored unto his former estate, but that as man, in his estate of innocence, having in himself all disposition unto good, &no disposition unto evil, yet being tempted might yield, or might resist: even so now being fallen, and having all disposition unto evil, and no disposition or will unto any good, yet GOD giving grace, man may receive grace, or my reject grace, according to that saying; (Deuteronomy 30:19) I call Heaven and Earth to record. This day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: Therefore choose life that both thou and thy seed may live.
5. That GOD before the Foundation of the World hath Predestinated that all that believe in him shall-be saved, (Ephesians 1:4, 12; Mark 16:16) and al that believe not shall be damned, (Mark 16:16) all which he knew before. (Romans 8:29) And this is the Election and reprobation spoken of in the Scriptures, concerning salvation, and condemnation, and not that GOD hath Predestinated men to be wicked, and so to be damned, but that men being wicked shall be damned, for GOD would have all men saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth, (1 Timothy 2:4) and would have no man to perish, but would have all men come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9) and wills not the death of him that dies. (Ezekiel 18:32). And therefore GOD is the author of no mans condemnation; according to the saying of the Prophet. (Hosea 13). Thy destruction O Israel, is of thy self, but thy help is of me.
6. That man is justified only by the righteousness of CHRIST, apprehended by faith, (Romans 3:28. Galatians 2:16) yet faith without works is dead. (James 2:17)
7. That men may fall away from the grace of GOD, (Hebrews 12:15) and from the truth, which they have received &acknowledged, (Hebrews 10:26) after they have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the HOLY GHOST, and have tasted of the good word of GOD, &of the powers of the world to come. (Hebrews 6:4, 5). And after they have escaped from the filthiness of the World, may be tangled again therein &overcome. (2 Peter 2:20). That a righteous man may forsake his righteousness and perish (Ezekiel 18:24, 26). And therefore let no man presume to think that because he hath, or had once grace, therefore he shall always have grace: But let all men have assurance, that if they continue unto the end, they shall be saved: Let no man then presume; but let all work out their salvation with fear and trembling.
8. That JESUS CHRIST, the Son of GOD the second Person, or subsistence in the Trinity, in the Fullness of time was manifested in the Flesh, being the seed of David, and of the Israelites, according to the Flesh, (Romans 1:3 and Romans 8:5) the Son of Marie the Virgin, made of her substance, (Galatians 4:4) by the power of the HOLY GHOST overshadowing her, (Luke 1:35) and being thus true Man was like unto us in all thing, sin only excepted. Hebrews (4:15) being one person in two distinct natures, TRUE GOD, and TRUE MAN.
9. That JESUS CHRIST is Mediator of the New Testament between GOD and Man, (1 Timothy 2:5) having all power in Heaven and in Earth given unto him. (Matthew 28:18) Being the only KING, (Luke 1:33) PREIST, (Hebrews 7:24) and PROPHET. (Acts 3:22) Of his church, he also being the only Law-giver, hath in his Testament set down an absolute, and perfect rule of direction, for all persons, at all times, to be observed; Which no Prince, nor any whosoever, may add to, or diminish from as they will avoid the fearful judgments denounced against them that shall so do. (Revelation 22:18, 19).
10. That the church of CHRIST is a company of faithful people (1 Corinthians 1:2. Ephesians 1:1) separated from the world by the word &Spirit of GOD (2 Corinthians 6:17) being knit unto the LORD, &one unto another, by Baptism. (1 Corinthians 12:13). Upon their own confession of the faith (Acts 8:37) and sins. (Matthew 3:6).
11. That though in respect of CHRIST, the Church be one (Ephesians 4:4) yet it consists of divers particular congregations, even so many as there shall be in the World, every of which congregation, though they be but two or three, have CHRIST given them, with all the means of their salvation. (Matthew 18:20. Romans 8:32. 1 Corinthians 3:22). Are the Body of CHRIST (1 Corinthians 12:27) and a whole Church. (1 Corinthians 14:23) And therefore may, and ought, when they are come together, to Pray, Prophecy, break bread, and administer in all the holy ordinances, although as yet they have no Officers, or that their Officers should be in Prison, sick, or by any other means hindered from the Church. (1 Peter 4:10 &2:5).
12. That as one congregation hath CHRIST, so hath all, (2 Corinthians 10:7). And that the Word of GOD comes not out from any one, neither to any one congregation in particular. (1 Corinthians 14:36). But unto every particular Church, as it doth unto al the world. (Colossians 1:5. 6). And therefore no church ought to challenge any prerogative over any other.
13. That every Church is to receive in all their members by Baptism upon the Confession of their faith and sins wrought by the preaching of the Gospel, according to the primitive Institution, (Matthew 28:19) and practice, (Acts 2:41). And therefore Churches constituted after any other manner, or of any other persons are not according to CHRISTS Testament.
14. That Baptism or washing with water is the outward manifestation of dieing unto sin, and walking in newness of life. (Romans 6:2, 3, 4). And therefore in no wise appertains to infants.
15. That the LORDS Supper is the outward manifestation of the Spiritual communion between CHRIST and the faithful mutually (1 Corinthians 10:16, 17) to declare his death until he come. (1 Corinthians 11:26).
16. That the members of every Church or Congregation ought to know one another, so that they may perform all the duties of love one towards another, both to soul and body. (Matthew 18:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; 1 Corinthians 12:25). And especially the Elders ought to know the whole flock, whereof the HOLY GHOST hath made them overseers. (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2, 3). And therefore a Church ought not to consist of such a multitude as cannot have particular knowledge one of another.
17. That Brethren impenitent in one sin after the admonition of the Church, are to be excluded the communion of the Saints (Matthew 18:17; 1 Corinthians 5:4, 13) &therefore not the committing of sin doth cut of any from the Church, but refusing to hear the Church to reformation.
18. That Excommunicants in respect of civil society are not to be avoided, (2 Thessalonians 3:15. Matthew 18:17).
19. That every Church ought (according to the example of CHRISTS Disciples and primitive Churches) upon every first day of the week, being the LORDS day, to assemble together to pray, prophecy, praise GOD, and break Bread, and perform all other parts of Spiritual communion for the worship of GOD, their own mutual edification, and the preservation of true Religion, &piety in the church (John 20:19. Acts 2:42 and 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2) and that ought not to labor in their callings according to the equity of the moral law, which CHRIST came not to abolish, but to fulfill. (Exodus 20:8 &c).
20. That the Officers of every Church or congregation are either Elders, who by their office do especially feed the flock concerning their souls, (Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 5:2, 3) or Deacons Men, and Women who by their office relieve the necessities of the poor and impotent brethren concerning their bodies, (Acts 6:1-4).
21. That these Officers are to be chosen when there are persons qualified according to the rules in Christ’s Testament, (1 Timothy 3:2-7. Titus 1:6-9. Acts 6:3. 4) by Election and approbation of that Church or congregation whereof they are members, (Acts 6:3. 4 and 14:23), with Fasting, Prayer, and Laying on of hands, (Acts 13:3. and 14:23). And there being but one rule for Elders, therefore but one sort of Elders.
22. That the Officers of every Church or congregation are tied by Office only to that particular congregation whereof they are chosen, (Acts 14:23, and 20:17. Titus 1:5). And therefore they cannot challenge by office any authorities in any other congregation whatsoever except they would have an Apostleship.
23. That the scriptures of the Old and New Testament are written for our instruction, (2 Timothy 3:16) &that we ought to search them for they testify of CHRIST, (10:5. 39). And therefore to be used withal reverence, as containing the Holy Word of GOD, which only is our direction in al things whatsoever.
24. That Magistracy is a Holy ordinance of GOD, that every soul ought to be subject to it not for fear only, but for conscience sake. Magistrates are the ministers of GOD for our wealth, they bear not the sword for naught. They are the ministers of GOD to take vengeance on them that do evil, (Romans 13). That it is a fearful sin to speak evil of them that are in authority, and to despise Government. (2 Peter 2:10). We ought to pay tribute, custom and all other duties. That we are to pray for the, for GOD would have them saved and come to the knowledge of his truth. (1 Timothy 2:1. 4). And therefore they may be members of the Church of CHRIST, retaining their Magistracy, for no Holy Ordinance of GOD debars any from being a member of CHRISTS Church. They bear the sword of GOD, — which sword in all Lawful administrations is to be defended and supported by the servants of GOD that are under their Government with their lives and al that they have according as in the first Institution of that Holy Ordinance. And whosoever holds otherwise must hold, (if they understand themselves) that they are the ministers of the devil, and therefore not to be prayed for nor approved in any of their administrations, — seeing all things they do (as punishing offenders and defending their countries, state, and persons by the sword) is unlawful.
25. That it is Lawful in a just cause for the deciding of strife to take an oath by the Name of the Lord. (Hebrews 6:16; 2 Corinthians 1:23. Philippians 1:8).
26. That the dead shall rise again, and the living being changed in a moment, - having the same bodies in substance though divers in qualities. (1 Corinthians 15:52 and 38. Job 19:15-28. Luke 24:30).
27. That after the resurrection all men shall appear before the judgment seat of CHRIST to be judged according to their works, that the Godly shall enjoy life Eternal, the wicked being condemned shall be tormented everlastingly in Hell. (Matthew 25:46).