Friday, October 5, 2012

Dan Phillips wants you to know you're a horrible person, probably not elect, and going to hell if you vote for anyone other than Mitt Romney.

Okay the title is a bit cheeky but bare with me. Dan Phillips, who is generally right on, just told me I am sinning by not voting for Mitt Romney. That is a strong claim I will be posting the relevant portion of his article on why voting 3 party is a vote for Obama and as such the worst sin since Judas betrayed Jesus inline with original formatting. My rebut wont take nearly as long as his article:

I start with the most popular, and yet sadly most foolish and Biblically absurdargument: "lesser of two evils." It never ceases to astonish me that any Christians say this. Don't they have Bibles? They're supposed to. Don't their Bibles have Romans 3:23 and7:14-25 and James 3:2a in them? Do those versesmean anything anymore? Child, every vote for a mere son of Adam is a vote for the lesser of two evils. There are no exceptions! It doesn't matter who your candidate is! He is at best a redeemed and finite sinner. He is limitedintellectually, spiritually, morally, and dynamically. He will not always know the right thing to do nor the right way to do it. Even when he does know, he will not always do it. Even when he tries, he will not always succeed. So if you're going to think this through like a Christian, you must make your decision on some other basis. You must never make this argument.
1.) Yes all votes are for the lesser evil, and when granted only two options you always choose the lesser of the two, however when there are four options choosing the lesser of the two evils doesn't work, you must choose the lesser of the four evils. The lesser evil candidates are not running with the GOP (anymore) or the DNC, therefore voting for either of these parties is voting for a greater of the four evils.

Next, when I grew up a little, I wrapped my mind around the fact that politics is the art of the possible. It is not a decision about whether to murder someone or not. It is a question of moving the ball in the right direction. So I have three quarterbacks vying for my vote. Barry absolutely will move the ball far in the wrong direction. Mitch will move it a bit in the wrong direction, a bit in the right direction, and the net will be a small but significant move towards my goal. Or at the very least prevention of a huge net move in the wrong direction. The third, Trevor? He claims that he will instantly make a touchdown. But there is one big problem: Trevor does not actually belong to either team on the field. So Trevor must score this promised touchdown in spite of three fatal roadblocks: (A)every player on the field will be trying to take Trevor down; and (B)no player on the field will run defense for Trevor; and (C) most of the people in the stands will boo and throw things at Trevor  So in the end, he will accomplish nothing, because this is a Republic and not a dictatorship.
2.) You are correct, Barry will move in the opposite direction that you desire. "Mitch" will move back and forth but you are incorrect in thinking that the net gain will outweigh the net loss. "Mitch" is identical to Barry on all of two or three issues and is actually worse than him on a few. "Trevor" for the sake of argument will go nowhere he will get crushed, and in 4 years we have not progressed. So keeping the status qua where it is, call it 0 > -10 with "Barry" or -7 with "Mitch." Plus on the off chance that "Trevor" does score he is the only candidate with the ability and desire to put positive points on the board, if we continue with your football analogy. Furthermore this assumes that the third party players are morons that haven't done this before however if I take the records of the President, the former governor of Massachusetts and the former governor of New Mexico and compare their records I am voting for the governor from New Mexico 100% of the time if those are my only options, and I "must" vote.

In fact, all third-party candidates will accomplish NOTHING of what they promise. Why not? Well, for starters, there are two kinds of non-comatose people in the world: (1) those who think a third-party candidate has any realistic chance of winning the election, and (2) rational people. Look, here's your cup of coffee; now listen: You can't keep any promises if you don't win office, and they can't win! Next, even if that circle could be squared, they would have no constituency in Congress. You know American civics at all? You know what that means? That means: Nobody will present their legislation.Nobody will craft their bills. Nobody will argue for them. Nobody will in either house of Congress will vote for them. They'd have to be dictators or tyrants.
3.) The GOP was originally a third party. Furthermore if we look at what Perot did in 92 we have to say that voting third party is about making a difference and not just walking lockstep with the party we think favors life more. The Perot debacle caused    the two "major" parties to think and interact with those issues regardless of their desire to or not, and look at what happened! Clinton, a Democrat, balanced the budget. The Next portion is just a restatement of 2 so I will not interact with it again.

All third-party candidates are immature, and/or they are fools, and/or they are liars. Isn't that a minus? Isn't that a disqualifier? These are nothing if not fatal flaws in leadership qualities. How can I support this claim? Because there are only two possibilities.First: these poseurs know they cannot win, and are misleading and misdirecting their supporters. They are deliberately wasting their supporters' money, and deliberately distracting them from supporting a serious player. These are, to speak mildly, not admirable qualities. The second (and only other) possibility is that they do not know that they cannot win. If that is the case, they are hopelessly out-of-touch fools who are unfit to lead and undeserving of support. Let's be specific. In this election, third-party fakes know that the two possible candidates differ very sharply on the issue of abortion. Barack Obama is a pro-abortion extremist who has aggressively used his office to promote the abortion culture. Given another term, he will appoint viciously pro-abortion Supreme Court Justices for lifeMitt Romney has the support of leading pro-life activists and organizations, and picked 100% pro-life Paul Ryan as his running mate. So followers who also oppose abortion would naturally vote for Mitt Romney if they had only two choices. But, recklessly and egomaniacally, third-party peacocks mislead their followers into thinking that there is a viable third choice. They take the vote that would naturally go to the one pro-life candidate (Mitt Romney), and turn it into at best an empty gesture — which benefits Barack Obama, the candidate who adores abortion and views his grandchildren as "punishments." Thus third-party candidates and their supporters further the cause of abortion — which they (supposedly) abhor. So they actually help score a touchdown for the pro-abortion side. Brilliant. Idiots.
4.) Granting the truth of your opening statement in this point how would that make a third party candidate any different than a GOP or DNC candidate? Second it is false that the candidates differ on abortion, "Mitt" only flip flopped recently to score political points if we look at his record, the fruit by which you judge a politician, there is really no difference between him and Obama on this issue until 2007 when we was going to make a bid for the GOP nod. He is no more against abortion than he is against war. Which is not at all. Paul Ryan has his own problems but even were "Mitt" elected there is nothing in his power that can advance the cause of live without the consent of congress so a vote for president does far less for the cause of abortion than the vote for your congressman/woman and senator, who are often times from third parties. For Mitt to advance the cause of life he would have to, and I do thank you for supplying the terms, be a "dictator or tyrant."

I'm a grownup. I want to make a difference, not a gesture (i.e. "sending a message"). I don't know if there has ever been a more stark nor consequential choice in my lifetime, even more so than 2008. One candidate, Mitt Romney, is a pro-life convert — which we like and want to encourage, right? — and he picked an even more ardently and winsomely pro-life running-mate. The other, Barack Obama, never met an unborn child he wouldn't just as soon see dead, and that even in the most gruesome way imaginable. Obama thinks spreading abortion is the most important thing he can do. As a Christian, I agree with the pro-life position, and I abominate Obama's position. If I do not actively help the one viable pro-life ticket, I help the other pro-abortion ticket. It is just as simple as that. I've read hundreds of words from third-partyers. While I share many of their goals, I really think it's all about them, and not the issues that they are failing to support. It's about making themselves feel better about themselves, in the name of "conscience." Me? I'll feel better if I keep that monstrous, pro-infanticide position out of the White House. That suits my conscience just fine. The "message" I want to send is that the abortion issue is critical in a Presidential election. I'll support a man who is less than my ideal, because he's basically on the right side of the life question. Otherwise, if I vote for a non-player the only "message" I send is "Don't worry about me. I'm irrelevant. I won't help the pro-lifer, and I won't hinder the pro-deather. Ignore me."
5.) I'm a grownup? Really? That's your argument? If you really believe there is a substantial difference between "Barry" and "Mitt" perhaps you need to go back and look at the records of each man. But please go on and tell me how you're going to make a difference with your statistically insignificant vote in a winner take all state that will 100% of the time go to the DNC? Who is being childish now? Continue to elect the same people and assume something is going to change. That's a brilliant plan. Seriously if you think Mitt is pro-life for any reason other than your vote or will actually do something to advance the cause of the unborn you must not have a very good memory. He made a similar "conversion" when running for office in Massachusetts. Also as I stated before Perot's 18% of the vote caused Democrats, the openly Keynesian, openly in love with deficit spending, Democratic President balanced the budget. Now imagine if a truly pro-life Austrian libertarian ran in a similar manner and got 18% of the vote what would happen to the GOP, especially if he was running against a soft (which is the best one can say for Mitt) pro-lifer. The party would grow in a real way or show it is no longer fit for support and be dissolved.

As the 2008 election already did, this election will have a huge impact on the state of abortion law. As has been richly documented, Obama is the most viciously merciless and doctrinaire President candidate in history, when it comes to abortion. We've made progress in abortion over the years, and it's made a difference. Thanks to President Bush's appointments, some restrictions have squeaked by the Supreme Court. Now there are 2-3 justices who are about 900 years old who are holding on for a liberal president. You let Obama continue to load the SC and other benches, and you will set the pro-life cause back legally for years. You will hurt every aspect of its public face. And, to be blunt, if you do not vote for Mitt Romney, you are helping Barack Obama and his abortion agenda.
6.) If I recall correctly the most recent big SCOTUS case was decided in favor of the liberal agenda by a man appointed by Bush. It is unlikely "Mitt" will do any better, especially with a democratic senate. Finally a vote for someone is just that a vote for someone and against everyone else. A vote for a third party candidate is a vote against Barack Obama and a vote against Mitt Romney. As such it can indeed be a vote against abortion, or even a truly pro-life vote since both the Republican and Democratic Candidates want continue to wage pointless wars at home and abroad that do nothing but consume dollars and American lives while making the rest of the world hate us because we are killing their sons, daughters, friends, and family. Mitt Romeny is not pro-live, not by long shot.

My response to his "I have no respect for the "just don't vote" position whatever" portion of the article will come at a later date.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Muslim Questions to a Calvinist

Bassam Zawadi over at The Muslim Debate Initiative posted 5 questions for Calvinists.  I have included the questions and my answers below. May they be edifying. 
Question 1: How does God determine the elect? I understand that it is His sovereign will, but is it arbitrary? If not, then how and why not?

Answer 1: The purpose of election is the glory of God. Therefore he chooses based not upon arbitrary pointing but upon his own good pleasure. I am sure you have done things that often appeared arbitrary to those who did not understand or know what you were doing, until the purpose was complete. Read Romans 9:18-23 for more on this.
Question 2: Isn’t it unfair and unjust for God to create some human beings as totally depraved (despite them having free will, He purposely created them totally depraved) and then abandon them by not electing them and turning them into reprobates?

Answer 2: This commits what is known as the equal-ultimacy fallacy and is also covered in Romans 9:18-23.
Question 3: Isn’t election and not Jesus dying for the sins of people the ultimate cause and foundation of salvation? If yes, then doesn’t that demote the importance of Jesus dying for our sins and shouldn’t the main message of the gospel be figuring out how to know you were elected?

Answer 3: How do you know if you are elected? By looking to Christ. You must remember that we were chosen in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world. God ordained that our election be by the means of Christ and him Crucified. The only way to be sure of our election is to repent and believe in Christ as our savior, and by faith look to him as the assurance of your calling. The only way to be elect is if Christ saved you, the only way to know is faith, which is a gift of God. How you know you're elected, and how God knows you are elected are two different things.
Question 4: Could the elect in reality be thought of as having sought forgiveness? I ask this because it appears that they weren’t really doing any “seeking”, but were themselves sought out and chosen by God to be forgiven. Please comment.

Answer 4: No, none of us were seeking God when he found us. John teaches us that we cannot even see the kingdom of God before we are born again from above. Paul tells us we were dead men whom God made alive in Christ Jesus. It is hard for a dead man to seek anything, but once made alive that man can repent and seek forgiveness.
Question 5: How would you respond to this Arminian argument: Calvinism is built upon the premise that fallen man is “too far gone for even God to be able to reach him [thus necessitating an Irresistible Grace].” However, ask the Calvinist, “Is it simply too difficult for God to enable an unregenerate sinner to receive Him, without using an Irresistible Grace?” If Calvinists answer, “no,” then the Total Depravity argument becomes moot, and then it’s no longer a matter of man’s depravity, but man’s accountability, when enabled by God’s prevenient grace. However, most Calvinists reluctantly answer, “yes,” thus making God to be the one who has Total Inability, that is, the total inability to reach fallen man without resorting to an Irresistible Grace, and thus it is the Calvinist who is shown to be the one denigrating God’s power.

Answer 5: This comes from a fundamental misunderstanding of irresistible grace, probably brought about by the name of the tulip loving Dutch. Irresistible grace does not mean that it cannot be resisted but that it can overcome all resistances. Once we settle this we realize the absurdity of this question. Allow me to rephrase: 'Is it simply too difficult for God to overcome an unregenerate sinner's resistance to receive Him, without overcoming an unregenerate sinner's resistance to receive Him?'  Proverbs 18:17

Soli Deo Gloria

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Message to Women From a Man: You Are Not "Crazy"

Do I have your attention? Good Recently Yashar Ali wrote an article by the same title. In this article he states that men are conditioned to "gaslight" women. "Gaslighting," he explains, finds its origins in the 1944 film Gaslight where the main character tries to convince his wife she is crazy by causing his gaslight to flicker. Or something. He then boldly claims this is what men do when they disregard a woman's emotions by saying "you're over reacting" or the like.

Now I am not a feminist, mainly because I believe there are biological, physiological, and psychological differences between men and women, go figure. The most obvious one is women can bare children and men cannot. Now if you ask me that is a pretty big difference between the sexes. However in an effort of fairness, not wanting to stereo-type all women as being able to bare children, we must ask ourselves why it is that when a heterosexual man shows up to meet another heterosexual man say half an hour late for a dinner, say beer and wings at B-Dubs, it is no big deal to either party. However when the same man shows up to meet a lady friend, girlfriend, spouse, 30 minutes late, it is a huge deal to the woman and not a big deal to the man? Different wiring. She has invested time, effort, etc, into this meal the two were going to spend together, she is emotionally attached to it. He is running late from work and it is just an average Tuesday to him. They both have different emotional wiring for what this meal means. Her reaction is different than the friends, thus his response is different. Lets look at another example, one more stark in contrast.

A man in a bar is pissing you off, then smashes your beer to the ground in the heat of the argument. (Probably over who's football team is better. See men can be emotional.) The man who had his beer smashed promptly punches the other in the face. Now if what Yashar is trying to say is that we should treat men and women identically. In a heated emotional argument about why Joe isn't home at 5:30 for dinner, Joe should pop Judy in the face, the same way he would any man that got in his face for being home half an hour late. I am sure this is not what Yashar is intending to have happen, however this is the problem with many forms of feminism, (of course those that hold that men are inferior to women would also say is is wrong for an inferior being to strike a superior one), the logical trajectory leads to a point where it will eventually decay into misogyny. Women will be treated by men as men treat men, which is barbaric at times.

An alternative is of course the biblical modal of man and woman, where though both are equally human beings, they are functionally different, (hence they, generally speaking, have different biology, physiology, and psychology). This would mean that men treat women differently than men. Back to our first example, the man is treating the man and the woman the same, if the late man to dinner was given flack about being late from the early man, I dare say he would "gaslight" the early man too. "Dude, quit being such a whiny little ..." Or something to that effect. The problem is not that men treat men differently than women, it is that men treat women the same. The solution is a return to treating men and women differently, not pressing men to treat women even more like men.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Human Condition - or I'm a Hipster and I Know It.

It's unfortunate that these days I seem to be almost entirely unable to find stimulating intellectual discussions. Now I understand that saying such is not only arrogant but also offensive to a majority of the people I converse with on a daily basis; even so, I don't think it is untrue or that many of them would disagree. Talk about nothing often fills my days and nights. It's quite silly when I think about it. However this concept kept coming up over and over and over. It was this subject of the human experience. Well (insert something bad or good here) is all part of being human. We know that X is part of the human condition. Now I have come to expect such talk from non-Christians, they come from a different set of presuppositions and a different understanding of the world. Yet it is Christians who are spouting off this nonsense.

Now before you all get on me for being harsh, insensitive, or just a jerk allow me to explain. Most of the comments I am talking about stem from that old adage, "to err is human." Let me be frank here. No. To err is not human. It is not human to make mistakes. It is not human to screw up. It is not human to fail. It is in losing our humanity that these things happen. Do I have your attention? Good. You see the problem with the idea "to err is human" it must be universally true for all humanity. Now before you jump in and say Matt everyone makes mistakes! Let me remind you of the one man, one Human, that never made a mistake. never erred. Jesus.

Unless we have a very weak Christology every statement we make about all of humanity we must also make about Christ when concerning what it is to be essentially human. Something that is part of the human condition, say a body, can be said of Christ. Jesus did have a body. Go figure he was fully human. So then we must ask did Jesus sin? No. So being sinful isn't essentially part of the human condition. Making mistakes isn't essentially part of the human condition. Failing isn't essentially part of the human condition. Jesus never failed. Some might look to the cross as a failure. A great guru died nailed to some Roman lumber, but if that was the plan from before the foundation of the world can we really say he failed? Let's be real people.

So what about this less than human bit. The adage should read "to err is less than human." The essential nature of man is to be image bearers of God. The one man, Jesus Christ, did this perfectly, he was the True man, as it were. Now if we are to reflect God, be His image in this world, then whenever we deviate from, or obscure that image, by erring, making mistakes, failing, we in a very real sense, become less human. Put another way our essential nature is marred by our fallen nature. I'm not so mean as to say there is nothing called grace in the omnibenevolent God of scripture, I am merely pointing out that, "to err is less than human," or as Peter put it "Men, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction."

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Dan Phillips and His Witty One Liners!

So it's been a while what wanna fight about it? So, now that that is behind us, Today I was rolling through my feedburner and came across a short one sentence post directed at continuationist's by Dan Phillips. Continuationists are those who believe that the spiritual gifts exist to the present age and were not simply signs for the early Church. I rarely weigh in on such topics as my own theology in such places isn't entirely set. That being said Dan Phillips over at team pyro ought to be more careful with his words. Here allow me to quote the entire post for you.
"The very fact that "continuationists" acknowledge the need to make their case to Christians by argument is, itself, a devastating and sufficient refutation of the position." - Dan Phillips of Pyromaniacs (Emphesis Original)

Did you catch the problem there? Now I don't think Dan is intending to slam argumentation, he is a Calvinistic Dispensationalist after all. Two things that are argued pretty widely in the Christian tradition. Rather I think he is saying, "If continuationists actually had these spiritual gifts then why don't they simply demonstrate them. If they did wouldn't the argument be over? I don't think so, honestly. The bible is clear in its teaching on other hotly debated topics. Lets choose one Dan and I, for the most part would agree on. The Sovereignty of God in Salvation. Now scripture is quite clear on this point. John 6 being a classic text in this regard; however, when showing such a text to someone, even someone in the church, who cannot or will not believe this. Case and point. The second reason this concept must be rejected is that it would limit God to a toy used to show off to other Christians.

Perhaps the toughest thing to do here is admit that one group is less sanctified in this specific understanding of scripture than the other. Note I did not say one group was less sanctified in general, but just as a consistent Calvinist would say in the area of Soteriology my Arminian brother or sister is less sanctified than my Calvinistic one, so too both the Continuationists and Cessationists must view their brothers and sisters in Christ this way, as siblings needing help.

P.S. I rank this topic way way way lower on my list of importance than Soteriology, so don't slam me for the comparison.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

So you wanna be a rock star?

It is interesting how often we, as young Christians, rationalize our sin with the sins of others especially the sins of older Christians. We can plainly see their hypocrisy yet our own escapes our eyes. I am the chief sinner among this younger generation in this respect. Partly because I have a strong background in theology, and mostly because I am evil. Just to use an example, we as younger believers often don't fellowship with other believers in a corporate (aka going a building where believers gather on Sundays) setting because, "they gossip," "I don't have to be part of a church to be a Christian," "They are too judgmental," etc. However we so often fail to realize that we by making these excuses we are also being very judgmental. We don't like their sins, they don't like ours but neither of us are willing to examine ourselves first. We find it much easier to point out the sins of others. It also gives us this wonderful satisfaction, makes us feel morally superior. I'm a better person because I do this and not that. In a word bullshit. You're a prideful person who is substituting one sin for another. Get over yourself and shame those other, older Christians by your good works so they will see them and glorify your Father who is in heaven. I'm not a rock star, You're not a rock star, there is only one, the Rock Himself, Jesus Christ.

P.S. A buddy of mine and I came up with this analogy for post-modern philosophy but it also seems to work for post-modern off the cuff theology. Post-modern off the cuff theology is like midgets standing on the shoulders of giants punching them in the head. Lets try not to be these midgets.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Oh I Just Can't Wait To Be King! (Part 5)

Some of us fall by the wayside, and some of us soar to the stars, and
some of us sail through our troubles, and some have to live with the scars.
- The Circle of Life - Elton John Version.

The philosophy behind and expressed Disneyʼs The Lion King is expressed in a ways that not only explore the different elements of many different philosophical views, but also answers the questions as to which are better. On the philosophy of religion level of the film, while there is a clash of eastern verses western ideas, the film replies that the western religion is more correct than the eastern; however eastern religion does have its place in the world. The making of this pluralistic society is expressed in the final scene where Timon and Pumbaa are seen on Pride Rock with Simba and Rafiki. All of these views come together in a climactic moment, the baptism of Kiara. Though Simbaʼs responsibility has beaten out Timonʼs “Hakunah Matata” there is still a place for Hakunah Matata, just not in itʼs pure form. The reason the film resonates with the soul so well is because of this melding of worlds. It provides a catalyst for the discussion of religion in a pluralistic world.

Furthermore the film itself asks a number of questions of the audience before giving the aforementioned answers. Questions such, is it okay to simply run from the past or leave it behind? Such a question assumes much however the philosophy behind such an idea is quite important. It presupposes a past, and in doing so argues that the past can and does affect us. This is perhaps a linchpin in the entire philosophy of Hakuna Matata.

Finally the film encourages discussion with regards to the values of a society. What sort of ethic does a society seek to promote in the children of its age? What does
being a good father look like? Ought we be a care-free society as long as its not hurting anyone? While the film does provide answers to many of these questions within, it brings these ideas to the the minds of the viewers and in some sense helps them think through the issues.

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. - The Apostle Paul