Thursday, October 05, 2017

"ALL lefties have always been for closed borders."

I am probably going to post any further blog writings at Steemit.

Here is the first offering, a preview of my upcoming immigration article.

https://steemit.com/immigration/@rhology/all-lefties-have-always-been-for-closed-borders

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Tony Miano Repents (?) of Anger

Tony Miano says he is walking in repentance of unrighteous and consistent anger. Let's just say it comes as no surprise that he has had anger problems for years. I am glad he acknowledges it as sin, but as far as whether the repentance is real and/or anywhere near complete, color me hopeful but unpersuaded. One need only check the archives of this very blog to see his devolution over the course of time, from one perspective.

For his sake, I definitely hope it's true. One reason I'm not optimistic it actually is true is the way he characterises what happened when he moved to Iowa.

"a man who was once a close friend began a relentless and vicious attack against me and Pastor Mike Reid."

Here is the "attack" Miano references. He still apparently doesn't understand that calls to repentance are not attacks. That makes me think that his repentance is either fake or incomplete. He hasn't begun to apologise to any abolitionists, so I'm very skeptical. 

Given what is known about this Mike Reid fellow, I certainly hope that Miano's new soft and loving side isn't due to any weird stuff on Reid's part or any funny business going on with any of Miano's female family members. I wish I were joking.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Vox Day Thinks My Death Is Imminent

The occasionally-interesting bloggings of Vox Day attract my attention from time to time. This post caught my eye the other day and was so beyond the pale of biblical reasoning and human decency that engagement in the combox proved too attractive a proposition to resist.

Vox Day and his Alt-Right/Alt-White/Alt-Whight crowd let slip their racial superiority every so often in a clear and unambiguous way. It isn't just Black Redneck Culture they (rightly) despise. It's that they think that the white ETHNICITY is superior in ways that make segregation essential and wise and miscegenation a sin.

So... apparently a white couple rescuing brown babies from their frozen In Vitro Fertilisation incarceration or from perpetual orphanage is a good reason to mock and accuse of the made-up crime of "cuckery" anyone whose heart is moved by mercy. And my willingness to speak up in opposition to such mockery means this:
I'm thankful at least that anyone reviewing this thread will see who is full of hate and who is full of mercy. Y'all are making it easily visible.

As are you. You won't survive long once the killing season begins. There will be no mercy for your kind.
I paste here my response in particular, but the conversation throughout the combox was interesting and enlightening enough that it may indeed merit review.

1) You don't even know "my kind". All you know is that I take seriously the many biblical commands to love neighbor and to rescue the fatherless from death because we live in a culture of death.
While we're on the subject, though, you Alt-Whight folks keep focusing on one symptom of the problem (with dubious substantiation) rather than taking an axe to the root, which is our society's wholesale denial of Jesus' kingship. You're like "hey we don't want OUR (white) PEOPLE to die" and yet white people are doing a way better job at killing themselves off through child sacrifice than any Muslim invasion ever could.

2) I am well aware that followers of Jesus are promised that death is a very realistic consequence of their allegiance.
And while I'm on THAT topic, y'all are not followers of Jesus. You can mock "(((Judeo-Christ)))" all you want; you'd be smeared in a debate on the topic. It would be zero contest. But OTOH it would be fun and educational. Fun for me, destroying you on the topic of "Alt-Whight is essentially biblical", and educational for errbody else, to see a white-skinned, red-bearded, happily married (to a white woman, since y'all care so much about that) (LOL), monogamous, anti-big government, street preaching Christian abolitionist reconstructionist wipe the rhetorical floor with a proponent of the Alt-Whight position. Educational, because in the minds of many, we are of a kind. But we aren't. You are on the side of the Muslim invaders - you serve the Devil, and I serve the Risen Lord Jesus Christ.

3) I couldn't care less that you think I'd be among the first to be killed in some sort of societal overthrow. Maybe I would be; the Bible believer remembers that eternal treasure lasts a lot longer than the food, gold bullion, and ammo in your bunker. And my Lord and Savior is a lot closer a friend than your militia.

God have mercy on all of you. Do not mock God.
Such a debate would indeed by quite illuminating, yet for all their bravado, I don't expect any of the so-called "Dread Ilk" to show up for it. All their courage is illusory and based on imagined superiority.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Chick tracts

Some abolitionists recently wondered aloud whether Chick tracts are good to use. Here are my thoughts, which can succinctly be expressed in two words: No, no.

1) They feed into the sinner's prayer mentality.

2) They consciously teach KJV Onlyism.

3) The main message of at least two of their tracts is how the KJV is the only legit Bible and all the other ones are evil.

4) Thus when you buy Chick tracts you perpetuate KJV Only ism.

5) And you also perpetuate and reinforce their fundamentalism which is quite literally anti-abolition, for it is a call to remove oneself from the world and take shelter under the pastor and the local church.

6) And if anyone takes a Chick tract and should like it and think "this is good stuff", they would probably have thought the same about a tract that was actually good, and additionally now they might go looking for more Chick materials and fall under IFB sway.

7) The drawings of demons are more like children's Halloween costumes and their conversations are exactly what I'd expect in a 1950's era KJV only IFB church. Pretty much nothing like actual demons.

8) The storylines are clearly trying to be edgy, but, again, 1950s fundy kitsch. They're cheesy and laughable.

9) Thus you educate the culture on what Christians think is actually quality material. If you are handing these out, you are saying "This is material I believe in, and you should too", and so what else are unbelievers supposed to interact with and engage?
Personal anecdote - on a bus in Madrid two weeks ago, I glanced to my right and saw a guy looking up chick dot com on his cell phone. He got off at the same stop as me so once off the bus I intro'd myself and asked him if he was an evangelist, b/c I'm one and am looking for teammates. He said that he is anti-creationist and is into comic books as well, and he uses material he finds on tracts to prepare material counter to creationism.
...
dot dot dot
dramatic pause

So this educated cosmopolitan Spaniard wants to destroy creationism, and the best resources he can find to champion Bible ideas is Jack freaking Chick. It's disgusting and shameful. Chick is a placeholder for actual apologetics, and when people hand out Chick, they are NOT handing out GOOD material that they COULD be handing out.

10) Chick tracts are demonstrably inaccurate in numerous of their anti-Rome tracts. The stuff about how much of the Roman Mass is a direct derivative of Babylonian mystery religion and stuff is dubious at best, and it's not even close to a strong argument against Romish theology. Further, it's needlessly offensive to Romanists.

11) A very substantial number of their tracts pictorially represent God the Father, giving Him a vaguely human form, thus violating the 2nd commandment. God the Father doesn't look anything like that. How do I know? Because He doesn't "look like" ANYTHING. He dwells in unapproachable light, Whom no man has seen - 1 Timothy 6.

12a) I repeat that you could be giving out good material, but if you choose to give out garbage, you are neglecting the good you could be doing.
12b) For cheaper than Chick, you can print out tracts that I wrote myself - I'll give you the file for free.
For prices comparable to Chick, you can get AHAGear quads.
For decent tracts that are 100% free, check out http://www.wmpress.org/read-booklet/booklets-available/

There are no excuses for Chick tracts. I'm sorry to burst anyone's bubble. If you should find one in public, take it for yourself but don't leave for anyone else to find, is my suggestion.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Authority of the (Local) Church, Part 1

The assertion that churches or church leaders carry authority is common among today's Reformedigelical establishment, and, interestingly, is used in much the same way as papist* and conciliarist** plebeians and their overlords/hierarchs to support their claims and counter-claims of ecclesiastical ascendancy. For as much noise as modern Western Reformedigelicals like to make about the Protestant Reformation, their incessant references to "the authority of the (local) church" and "the authority of the elders" when poked in just the right spot and when divorced from a context of engaging in apologetics against papists and conciliarists can be very disturbing, as in doing so they much resemble papist and conciliarist opponents of the Reformation. Are these claims to "authority" and such biblically justified?

In assessing this question, two important questions must be dealt with:
1) Does the Bible employ the word "authority", and if so, how?
2) Does the Bible employ the concept of authority, and if so, how?

The intent of this article is to examine the first question mostly and the second in some ways, leaving more of the second for a later time. Let us examine the words and their contexts that are translated using "authority" or similar words, or which are claimed to express the teaching that "authority" rests in elders/churches and should be exercised in the way that it is claimed they can and should exercise it. Let us begin our examination in this article with Strong's number 1849 - exousia (ἐξουσία). The word is used over 100 times in the New Testament and the KJV translates it with "power" in two-thirds of its occurrences. During my own survey of each occurrence in its context, my classification is that the words are used to express the following ideas:
  1. Apostles have authority to cast out demons
  2. Authority in a confusing sense (from 1 Corinthians 11:10)
  3. Authority in a general sense
  4. Authority in a household, slaves
  5. Authority in the sense of rulers
  6. Become children of God
  7. God has authority
  8. Jesus has authority
  9. Liberty
  10. Military/governmental authority
  11. Paul has authority to build up
  12. Power in a general sense
  13. Power of apostles to impart the Holy Spirit
  14. Power of darkness
  15. Right in a general sense
It is outside the scope of this article to attempt to forward more specific details than these about this word. Suffice it to say that G1849 is actually never used in reference to anything remotely related to church or so-called church officers possessing "authority". The closest categories to this concept would seem to be the fact that the apostles possessed authority/power to impart the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:19, the only NT occurrence in this category) and the fact that the Apostle Paul possessed authority to build up believers (2 Corinthians 10:8, 13:10). This latter point is of course useless to the modern authoritarian unless paired with a robust doctrine of apostolic succession whereby Paul's authority transfers through the generations to 21st-century church officers.

Thus "exousia" gives no support whatsoever to the concept of "church authority" but this is merely the end of the beginning. Let us move now to other NT words that use the same root and deal in similar ideas.

Don't Be Like the Rulers of the Gentiles: Matthew and Mark

Matthew 20:25-28 -
But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it (G2634 - katakyrieuō, κατακυριεύω) over them, and their great men exercise authority (G2715 - katexousiazō, κατεξουσιάζω) over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Mark 10:42-45 -
Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it (G2634 - katakyrieuō, κατακυριεύω) over them; and their great men exercise authority (G2715 - katexousiazō, κατεξουσιάζω) over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Note how the second word (2715) of interest in this pericope has as its root exousia. Here, in the context of inter-Christian relationship, the Lord Jesus instructs His apostles that their posture toward each other is not to be like that of the Gentile rulers, who lord it over and exercise authority over the peons. This is a very important point. Whatever these words mean, they characterise the precise opposite of the way in which Christians are to act toward each other.

Given that, the first word (2634) enriches our understanding even more, as the other two NT occurrences are Acts 19:17 and 1 Peter 5:3.
In Acts 19:17, the possessed man engages in katakyrieuō against (the NASB renders this "subdued") the seven sons of Sceva.
1 Peter 5:1-4 is even more interesting:
Therefore, I exhort the elders older men among you, as your fellow elder (older man) and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over (katakyrieuō) those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders older men; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble".
First, a note on the way I have rendered the passage using "elders older men": the NASB like other translations is inconsistent in its treatment of the Greek word used there, and interestingly translates it with more honesty in 1 Timothy 5:1, where, just as here in 1 Peter 5, the author is drawing a parallel between how those of differing ages ought to act with respect to each other, rather than indicating some sort of ecclesiastical official relationship. The NASB correctly indicates the fact that the passage is referring to older men vs younger men and older women vs younger women. 1 Peter 5 likewise mentions younger men, and with no other contextual mandate to change the translation, the English rendering ought to be consistent; thus "older men".

This passage is often appealed to, however, by authoritarians as a prooftext for the authority of elders. They point to words like "shepherd" and "oversight", which deserve attention at some later point in time. For now, though, let us note that in this passage supposedly about "elder authority", Peter specifically declines to bolster such a notion, reminding the reader about how the Lord Jesus told him and the other eleven that "it is not this way among you". They do not exercise authority among Christians. So whatever "oversight" and "shepherd" mean in this context, if anyone should assert that they have anything to do with "authority", they have all their work in front of them. Peter uses the very word that Jesus used and which carries a strong relation to the word most clearly translatable into English as "authority", and denies that is what anyone ought to be doing. As a helpful reminder, he drops an Old Testament quote, commanding all to be humble rather than proud, for allocating oneself authority is most unquestionably an exercise in pride, especially when Jesus kept saying stuff like "serve others", "don't take the best seats", "it is better to serve than to be served", and "don't call other people 'Father'".

Don't Be Like the Rulers of the Gentiles: Luke

Luke 22:25-27 -
(Jesus) said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over (G2961 - kyrieuō, κυριεύω) them; and those who have authority over (G1850 - exousiazō, ἐξουσιάζω) them are called ‘Benefactors.’ But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves."
Note basically the same words are used in this passage, in a slightly different form. They are used elsewhere in the NT, though, so let us take a look.

2961 is used in the following texts:
  • Romans 6:14 - For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
  • Romans 7:1 - Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives?
  • Romans 14:9 - For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
  • 2 Corinthians 1:24 - Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy; for in your faith you are standing firm.
  • 1 Timothy 6:15 - which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords...
1850 (reminder: the same root word as 1849, exousia) is used in:
  • 1Co 6:12 - All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.
    1 Co 7:4 - The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
What do we see from this passage in Luke 22? Whatever it looks like to be mastered by sin, to be under the jurisdiction of the law, to be under the Lord Jesus, and whatever it looks like to have authority over the body of one's spouse is the opposite of how any Christian ought to relate to any other Christian, according to Luke 22. Note also how 2 Corinthians 1:24 contains Paul's explicit denial that he would act this way toward anyone else - Paul, an apostle of the Lord who wrote half the New Testament.

Note also Jesus' reference to the disingenuous way in which Gentile overlords demand to be addressed. He says they insist on being called "Benefactors", just like authoritarians insist on disingenuously referring to their ideas of elders/pastors as "servant leaders" and simultaneously demanding that all acknowledge the authority of the same to tell the Christians under them how to believe and how to act.

"With All (Commandment)" - Titus 2

Another candidate for the distinction of authoritarian prooftext is Titus 2:15, which verse the NASB renders thus:
These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority (G2003 - epitagē, ἐπιταγή). Let no one disregard you.
Let us examine the way the NASB renders the other NT occurrences of this Greek word.
  • Romans 16:26 - but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith;
  • 1 Corinthians 7:6 - But this I say by way of concession, not of command.
  • 1 Corinthians 7:25 - Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy.
  • 2 Corinthians 8:8 - I am not speaking this as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also.
  • 1 Timothy 1:1 - Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope,
  • Titus 1:3 - but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior,
  • Titus 2:15 - These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
It is unclear how such a verse buttresses the position against which we are arguing here. Notice first how Titus is specially designated for the task in Crete by the Apostle Paul because of a specific situation - a domination of false teachers and widespread confusion about the actual content of the apostolic message. Titus was given particular authority --yes, authority-- for this mission, by a guy who actually has authority (and yet still disdained using it to lord it over people - see above comments on 2 Corinthians 1:24) by virtue of being a legitimate prophet of God during a time when people were receiving prophetic revelation to write Scripture. But nobody's pastor today was given authority by a prophet, very few modern situations are particularly analogous to Titus' in Crete, and even if they are, the argument still falls apart because Titus was supposed to correct doctrine with the tool of the apostolic message, not make stuff up from his own "authority" - delegated authority to repeat what God has already said. Thus the authority, crucially rests in the message, not the messenger.

Further, "with all authority" is a pretty questionable way to render a word that six other times was translated as "command(ment)". It is even more questionable when one remembers that the same word is translated "commandment" in Titus 1:5. The problem is not that there is some enormous difference between the concept of "commandment" and "authority" or that "authority" wouldn't also fit in Titus 1:5. The problem is that the idea the word expresses is not what the modern ecclesiastical authoritarians mean when they say "church authority". Thus a misleading translation leads to poor conclusions that actually contradict other passages that are not poorly translated.

Conclusion

Thus upon biblical examination, we find the phrases "church authority", "authority of the local church" (which local church, by the way? I always wonder that), and "authority of the pastor(s)/elder(s)" to be without biblical support. The last stands for the authoritarians would seem to be Hebrews 13:17, which passage is covered in detail here and found to be of no help to the authoritarian position, and 1 Thessalonians 5:13, which uses the word proïstēmi (προΐστημι). I intend to examine this word and its usage in a later article. In the meantime, please stop using those phrases and stick to biblical terminology when discussing these matters. They are too important to either make up terms out of thin air or to use language loaded with such heavy baggage. Ad fontes!



*Also known as Roman Catholics, but of course they are not catholic. "Papist" or "Romanist" is a preferable general appellation.
**Also known as Eastern Orthodox, but of course they are not orthodox. "Conciliarist" or "oriental/eastern conciliarist" is a preferable general appellation.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

To Whom the Epistles Were Written

An important support of the modern phenomenon of excessive emphasis on visible local churches at the expense of the doctrine of the Invisible Universal Church is the allegation that the epistles of the New Testament were written to visible local churches and thus that the New Testament doesn't make sense without keeping this in mind. "Paul wrote to the (local) church at Corinth/Rome/Colossæ," they say. "That means local churches with identifiable leadership, membership, and schedule," they say. If they're really bold, they throw in "...and street address." Let us examine, though, whether this is actually the case.

TWO KINDS OF PEOPLE, TWO CHURCHES

The Bible teaches that two kinds of people exist in the world - those who remain in slavery to sin and the devil, darkness, and rebellion, who are headed for Hell, and those who are redeemed, born again, liberated from sin unto slavery to Jesus Christ, repentant, and being sanctified during their lifetimes by the Holy Spirit until the Lord rescues them from this body of death and takes them to repose and later a sure and final victory.

These in the latter category constitute what is known as The Invisible Universal Church, that ekklesia/assembly/congregation spoken of in passages such as Matthew 16:18, Ephesians 5:23-32, Colossians 1:18 and 24, and 1 Timothy 3:15.

And when these slaves of Christ gather together, the New Testament also labels that gathering an ekklesia. In a vacuum, that is an obvious sort of thing, for obviously those who have been redeemed from the useless things of this present world would want to fellowship and worship and serve with other believers on a regular basis for many reasons, not the least of which is that the New Testament commands such. But there is a problem - not all who profess slavery to Jesus are indeed His slaves. False conversion and profession are significant enough problems that they merit many mentions in passages such as Matthew 18, 1 Corinthians 5, Galatians, Titus 3, 2 Peter, 1 John 2, and Jude.

Specifically, 1 John 2:19 informs us:
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.

Galatians 2 explains further:
Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery—to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.

False brothers sneak in, sent and inspired by the devil and other fleshly motivations. This is an ubiquitous phenomenon. But how to identify them, and what should be done once they become known?

CONVERGENCE OF THE TWO CHURCHES - DISCIPLINE

The New Testament describes and prescribes various elements of a process usually labeled church discipline. Those people in whom the spirit of God is at work will indicate by the fruit of their lives and of their professions that they belong to Jesus and not to themselves. But if the fruit is not in accord with the profession of faith in Jesus, the profession is to be considered a false one and the person is to be taught closely, reprimanded, and eventually expelled from the assembly if they continue without repentance. Thus, the spies of the devil, as it were, lose their access and influence among the people who truly do belong to Jesus.

However, it can take time first to identify, then to gather evidence and bring to bear witnesses, then finally to confront, teach, rebut, and ultimately expel from the fellowship a person who proves by their life and profession to possess an unrepentant spirit. Sometimes these false brothers can even remain concealed for many years, which means that there exists an excellent chance an unregenerate person is gaining and exercising influence in any given local assembly, of which fact Paul and Peter were doubtless aware.

DEPRAVITY

If these Epistles are written to everyone, both lost and regenerate, then the Apostle Paul is engaging in communication and activity that just doesn't make sense. Do Paul and the Holy Spirit who breathed out His Word through Paul expect unbelievers to act like believers and to be devoted to Christ? Do unbelievers warrant being addressed with passages like these?

Galatians 3:3-5 -
Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain— if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith...?
Do unbelievers hear with faith? Has the Spirit been supplied to them? Have they begun by the Spirit?

Romans 6:17-18 -
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness...
Romans 8:9 -
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
This is important because the New Testament describes over and over the fact that people who are not regenerate simply can not submit to God nor even understand his word very well.

For example, 1 Corinthians 2:14-15 -
But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.
These "natural (men)" are otherwise known as outsiders, those whom the Apostle Paul reminds us we are not to judge in the same way nor by the same standard as those inside the church; 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 -
I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.
To expect an outsider, a natural man, to grow in holiness and grace, knowledge of the Scripture, and zeal for good works as defined by the Scripture, is a complete category error. Natural men don't even understand much of that, much less desire to be made like Christ in their behavior, priorities, and dealings, so the principal emphasis between Christian and unbeliever must be on repentance, the change of mind and heart that accompanies regeneration by the Holy Spirit, transforming a natural man to a spiritual one. You must be born again.

Let's turn our attention now to a different angle of this matter.

EXPLICIT GREETINGS

To whom did the epistolary authors send their letters? Let's find out from their own pens:

Romans 1:1Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God...7to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  8First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.

1 Corinthians 1:1Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:
  3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
  4I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, 5that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, 6even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, 7so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 1:1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth with all the saints who are throughout Achaia...7and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.

Ephesians 1:1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:1Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons.

Colossians 1:1Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae.

1 Thessalonians 1:1Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace. 2We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; 3constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, 4knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you.

2 Thessalonians 1:1To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: 2Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater; 4therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure.

1 Peter 1:1Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood...

2 Peter 1:1Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ...

Notice how each letter is sent expressly to people whom the author identifies as born again people. There can be no doubt by the way he describes them each time - saints, faithful, obedient to Jesus, hoping in Jesus, being chosen by God, etc. All these descriptive phrases are indicative of the intended recipients of the letters - the regenerate, people in the Invisible Universal Church. Surely Paul and Peter didn't momentarily forget the concepts related to the natural/unregenerate/lost man and spiritual/regenerate/reborn man dichotomy as they were writing their opening salutations.

Consider the man who was committing immorality with his father's wife, described in 1 Corinthians 5. He was still part of the local assembly just as much as anyone else at the time Paul wrote the epistle, and that is why Paul had to specifically tell the rest of them to expel him from their midst. So, are verses 4-8 of 1 Corinthians 1 true of this man?
I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Was this man enriched in God? Was the testimony concerning Christ confirmed in him? Was he a partaker of spiritual gifts? Was he awaiting eagerly Christ's revelation? Was there any reasonable expectation he would be confirmed at the end and blameless? No! The epistle is partly about this man, not written to him. And he was just as much part of that local church (if you will) as anyone.

I have omitted Galatians because the opening salutation is so short and the Apostle Paul is clearly engaging in internal debate during the course of the letter as to whether the Galatians are indeed born again, for regenerate people will not ultimately fall prey to deadly heresy and go so far as to deny the very Gospel itself while affirming the sufficiency of the quality and saving power of their own works in the sight of a holy and jealous God, thus revealing they consider the cross of Christ to be devoid of power, a mostly needless gesture on God's part.

WHO IS ADDRESSED


Obviously it would be very strange to propose that these epistles are addressing anyone other than true believers. And that's the point here. To address "a local church" like, say, the church at Galatia is to address:
1) some people who were true believers and who were standing firm,
2) some who were true believers but who were wavering (in whom the Spirit of God had not yet brought to completion His work of sanctifying them unto rejection of the false Judaiser gospel),
3) some who appeared to be true believers but who would soon follow after the Judaisers and leave the truth, and
4) the obvious false teachers which were the Judaisers themselves.

Yet none of the content of the epistle is addressed to the two latter groups. It is about the three latter groups and is only addressed to the two former or at best the three former, the people whom Paul considers to be possibly (or certainly) truly regenerate.

So, since the epistles are addressed to the regenerate and not the unregenerate, and given that virtually every local church contains some unregenerate people, how can we say that they are written to local churches rather than to the Invisible Universal Church, or if you prefer, to the very people of God no matter where they are?

Even those who insist that these epistles were written to local churches do not act like it, for they take the commands and proscriptions therein to be applicable across the ages to their own local church context thousands of miles and thousands of years away. They aren't part of the church at Ephesus during the 1st century, yet they read Ephesians 1 and deduce Calvinistic election and Ephesians 5 and infer proper marital roles and 1 Thessalonians 4 and see a teaching about the Rapture. But these letters were not addressed to these modern folks making these deductions!

Or were they? Did not the Holy Spirit know that they would be read by all, even far removed from the original recipients, by time and distance? Why then did the Holy Spirit take such pains to warn readers of the fact that false conversion is a thing, that false conversion sometimes takes a long time to recognize, and that often it would require significant sacrifice and determination (not to mention painstaking time and procedure) to root it out? And yet He speaks to the regenerate about the unregenerate. Why? Because He intends His message for those who are truly His children, not those who hate His children but are pretending to be His children so they can destroy His children.

Thus in reality, one who agrees with the argument as laid out in this article holds to a higher doctrine of the church than one who disagrees, for I am denying that God sent such important information as New Testament letters to people who hate Him and deny His Son.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

CARM Recommends Church Repent Exhortations

Let me say this up front - CARM does a lot of good work and is a blessing for the most part to the people of God. And I come here to praise CARM even now!

On CARM's "Tracts" page, they suggest the following:
Tract to pass out at a church regarding women pastors - A free tract, double-sided, 8.5 x 11, to pass out in front of a church that would support and/or have women pastors.


Read that again - to pass out in front of a church. CARM's tract page is offering free resources for Christians to take it upon themselves to defeat misinformation and challenge unbiblical ideas "out in front of a church". There is no way to interpret this suggestion than that they have in mind that a Christian would take a stack of these materials to the sidewalk in front of a church building before, during, or after a "worship service" (most probably Sunday morning) so as to distribute them to the congregants either going in or coming out.

Which sounds suspiciously like exactly what abolitionists do when exhorting churches during so-called "Church Repent project" activities.

The page lists no caveats along the lines of checking with elders/pastors/overseers/bishops before taking such radical and visible action. The page does not suggest double-checking whether said church "preaches the Gospel" before taking to the sidewalks in front, dissenting literature in hand. It simply and commendably suggests you download, print, locate, and go. Sounds to me like an excellent idea. But see, plenty of other people (including people associated closely with CARM in many ways) have objected, sometimes vociferously, to abolitionists' exhortation of churches. They say it lies about the church to the world. They say it is divisive. They say it makes abolition into the Gospel. On and on, with objection after objection which we abolitionists have defeated and refuted countless times; it never matters to these people that they have lost the argument. It only matters that they be seen in public standing against such wicked people who want the church to be salt and light. We abolitionists must be stopped!

Which is why it's confusing to me that CARM recommends the same thing abolitionists do, but nobody is crawling all over the Interwebz to denounce CARM the same way they denounce abolitionists. One wonders why not.

One might object:
But a church with women pastors doesn't preach the Gospel!

Such a proposition overlooks five key items:
1) Many churches hold to mutually inconsistent doctrines, where one doctrine is biblically legitimate but another one, simultaneously adhered to, is unbiblical and also, taken to its logical conclusion, vitiates and denies the aforementioned biblical doctrine. One example - the biblical doctrine of the exhaustive knowledge of God of all things, past, present, and future, and the unbiblical doctrine of libertarian free will. A second example - the biblical doctrine of Sola Scriptura and the unbiblical doctrine of ongoing authoritative prophetic revelation. A third example - the biblical doctrine of Sola Scriptura and the unbiblical doctrine of refusing to countenance the possibility that your elders/pastors/overseers might be wrong about something significant. Many people hold to both. They don't even acknowledge or understand that they are at odds.
2) Many of the same objectors to the so-called Church Repent project contend that "preaching the Gospel" signifies that the church in question teaches sola fide and the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, while holding at least to some semblance of substitutionary atonement. Plenty of churches with women pastors teach such. Churches in the charismatic strains are examples of this.
3) One of the major biblical proofs against the idea of women pastors is that the so-called "lists of qualifications" for overseers in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 seem to assume that only men are in view, for it is, admittedly, difficult to imagine how a woman could be the husband of one wife.
Yet male-ness (or, if you will, husband-ness) is merely one of the qualifications in those passages. Many other churches have pastors that are not above reproach, not only-once-married, neither temperate, prudent, hospitable, nor temperate. Many are addicted to wine or pugnacious, many visibly love money, many do not keep their children under control, many are conceited, and many are lousy teachers. What makes female-ness the deal-breaker?
4) This literature is even for churches that "support" women pastors, not just churches that employ them, thus widening the scope even more of but-that-church-preaches-the-Gospel candidates for exhortation.
5) In the vast majority of churches, not a single person has ever preached one single time.

Now, perhaps nobody or virtually nobody has ever actually followed CARM's recommendations as given on this page, using this downloaded material. If they had done so in a halfway visible manner, especially if they were to leverage social media to publicise and expose their actions to the watching world, perhaps the same folks who gripe about abolitionists' Church Repent actions would use the same criticisms against CARM and those who followed CARM's advice.

Then again, maybe they would not. You see, this isn't about CARM at all. Again, CARM is giving good advice and providing useful material unto godly actions for Christians to do. As a matter of fact, I'd personally argue that following CARM's recommendations here would be a much better use of time than attending most Sunday morning "worship services". Of course, one could simply take one Sunday per month to spread this propaganda to churches with women pastors while attending Sunday services the other three or four Sundays per month.

This is about those who complain loudly, demanding to know how abolitionists dare exhort fellow professing Christians outside their church buildings on Sunday mornings to love and take action to protect their preborn neighbors who are being regularly destroyed, 3500 per day, in the United States. Abolitionists are smeared with labels such as "cultist", "apostate", "wicked", "divisive", "Pharisaical", etc for daring to do such a thing, for daring to attempt to disturb the complacent status quo. Yet when CARM suggests doing the same thing vis-a-vis women pastors, nobody says anything. Could this be because there exist double standards in the minds of most critics of the so-called Church Repent project? Because CARM gets some sort of pass in their minds for whatever reason?

To be consistent, James White, Jordan Hall, Jon Speed, Marcus Pittman, and the other critics of the CR project should call CARM a bunch of wicked divisive apostate cultists Pharisees. All the more because CARM recommends such drastic action as this in the face of what is, let's face it, a minor matter relative to the ongoing slaughter of innocent children in this nation. If it is evil to exhort "Gospel preaching churches" about their abortion apathy, it must be doubly evil to exhort them because their pastor is the wrong sex.

All this does make me wonder though - what does Jon Speed think of it? When it comes to speaking out against pastrices, I mean, where is the church?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Interactions With Fred Butler, ShepCon Repentance

All too predictably, Grace To You employee Fred Butler became very upset when abolitionists suggested out loud that the vast majority of pastors in the United States probably need to repent of abortion apathy on some level, and did so in person just outside the property of his boss' church buildings during the famous Shepherds' Conference 2017. That's the same church whose buildings thousands attend for Sunday service and which is located less than 10 miles from no less than three abortion facilities with empty sidewalks all 'round them all week long, week after week.

Let's give credit where due - at least Fred accepted one of the abolitionist pamphlets instead of flatly rejecting them like the majority of church people do. At least he put up the initial impression of wanting to be a Berean. Unfortunately for him (and everyone), the Bereans are praised in Acts 17 not only because they examined the Scriptures but also because they came to correct conclusions regarding the Scriptures they were reading and the oral message the Apostle Paul and his team were delivering. Fred at least gives it a shot but ultimately fails in his alleged quest for biblical accuracy. With respect to the contents of the pamphlet, see the review here and an abolitionist reply here.

In light of the fact that I think it is 51% probable that my comments on Fred's relevant note will be deleted, I reproduce the conversation here in which Fred and others discuss their badly skewed and groundless opinions about what AHA is and who abolitionists are. Thankfully, Pulpit & Pen's supposed chief editor (the real chief editor is Jordan Hall), Jeff Maples, stopped by to demonstrate that he, like Jordan, never understood AHA either despite his repeated claims to have been an abolitionist. It's always gratifying when "abolitionists" expose themselves as pro-lifers, ecclesiolaters, and willing deceivers in public so as to reduce the likelihood they deceive anyone else.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Jason Wallace Misrepresents Abolition

Jason Wallace is a religious service provider at an OPC branch in Utah. Unsurprisingly, James White mentioned him specifically as a personal friend in a recent Dividing Line program. In recent social media interactions he has shown himself to be, much like Rich Pierce, a closed-minded sower of division who cares not at all when he willfully misrepresents servants of the living God despite numerous corrections.
Since I'd say the odds favor his eventual deletion of one of the notable threads in which he amply demonstrates his evil thinking, I'll reproduce it here. First, though, his 13 objections to AHA, which will be followed by rebuttals.

UPDATE: Before the fold, though, I'd like to throw in a sideways sigh toward JD Hall, who refers obliquely to this article in his copy+paste of Wallace's 13 points.

He even mentions me specifically and the fact that I criticise the points here, but unsurprisingly doesn't link here so people can evaluate the 13 points and their rebuttals. He does take time to make the assertion that my statement that "Virtually all abolitionists are part of faithful visible churches" is a "laughable inaccuracy", and of course, though he has been corrected on that many times, gives no indication that he cares about correction, truth, or fairness. Nor does he give any evidence that the statement is inaccurate, let alone laughable.
And since JD reads this blog, I will now make another plea to him directly: Jordan, let us be brothers again. You invited me over to your house! You left me alone in your house where I had access to anything I would have wanted to steal or sabotage or whatever you think a dangerous church-hating cultist might do. You called me "closer than a brother" in public not long after, and then less than two months later were tossing me aside in public as a cultist. I guess better a cultist than a jihadist...

Monday, January 23, 2017

Tony Miano Sinning Against Abolitionists Yet Again

The hate is strong with this one...



A commenter on the video says:
Watching this video with a purely analytical eye, here's what I see. A man is reading the Bible out loud, apparently to himself. A person walks up and says, "That's for you," interrupting him to the same degree as a Denny's waitress, a church usher, or a StarBucks barista delivering a latte (and who hasn't read their Bible in a coffee shop?). The man is neither annoyed nor offended by this and is about to return to reading the Word, when a second man also interrupts the reading to inform the first man that he has been given an unwelcome tract. Instead of proceeding with the reading (you know, out if respect for God's word) the first man then himself interrupts the word of God, having apparently decided that it would be in the interest of the greater good to pause and use the moment as a platform to make accusatory statements about the philosophy represented by the person who initially said, "This is for you."

Very true.