Friday, November 1, 2019

I Agree with Beth Moore

Beth Moore has called out misogyny in evangelicalism, and I want to say a hardy, "I agree!" So she should stop promoting it. Egalitarianism and Feminism are misogyny. That is the entire point that complementarians are trying to make. In fact, that is the entire crux of the whole issue. Answering the question, "What does misogyny believe and look like?" is where everyone divides. The issue then is what or who can tell us which view is correct.

I would argue that God is the only One who knows the correct position and has revealed it in both His creation (general revelation) and the Bible (special revelation) that any views that argue a woman is honored by becoming something other than a woman is misogyny. If someone models a role for women, for instance, that goes against the role laid out for the woman by her biological creation and God's creational work for her as it is revealed in Scripture, it is antiwoman, replacing the woman with some other role meant for some other creature, and displays, therefore, a hatred for true womanhood and the women it seeks to convince. In essence, a woman who takes upon the role of a man or an animal/object has erased her womanhood and has become something other than what God named as a woman. It is absolute hatred for what is truly a woman. Our culture loves women when they are either prostitutes or gender neutral/men in terms of their roles, but actual women are hated by the culture. They are continually viewed as lesser than anyone who is a sex symbol or anyone who aspires to something greater (i.e., to do what the man does) than that banal existence of womanhood as wife and mother or those in the process of becoming wife and mother.

As such, all feminists, all egalitarians, such as Beth Moore, are misogynists. They hate women because they are not content in keeping to the natural role that defines a woman. They think it to be lesser for themselves to have to be "chained" and "imprisoned" to such an existence. They are Gnostics in their understanding of gender, which explains their hatred for women, since Gnostics disdained women and did not believe that they could ascend to be a better individual unless they became like a man or gender neuteral.

Indeed, many misogynists still say they cherish and value women, and even partake in some of the role that is womanhood, but their disdain for what it means to be "just a woman" in terms of staying within the lane of what her biology and the Bible dictate is repudiated by seeking to become "more" than what God would desire her to be by taking upon the role God desires exclusively for a man to take upon himself.

Misogyny is rampant in our culture because the idea that what the men do is better than what the women do has been advocated by pop-Feminism for years now. It's time that women were honored as women, and for Evangelicals to stop lying about their exaltation of women when they exalt those who evidence a disdain for the idea that being only a woman in all that womanhood calls her to be, and nothing else, is to be honored and desired by women more than any desire to be like the man. It's time to start exalting wives and mothers and the roles in the church that support womanhood rather than diminish it.

Let's put an end to misogyny in the church, therefore, and tell Beth Moore to love God by obeying His revealed will for women, and to love the gendered humans he has made in the fullness thereof.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Argumentum ad Consequentiam

I often hear the attempt to refute my argument concerning the image of God with rebuts like, "That sounds dangerous," or "That's alarming?" or "If we all believe that then we have no reason to treat other people with respect," etc. These are all types of arguments that fit under the category of the argument from consequence fallacy. To use one website's definition.

Concluding that an idea or proposition is true or false because the consequences of it being true  or false are desirable or undesirable.  The fallacy lies in the fact that the desirability is not related to the truth value of the idea or proposition.  This comes in two forms: the positive and negative. 

Logical Forms:
X is true because if people did not accept X as being true then there would be negative consequences.

X is false because if people did not accept X as being false, then there would be negative consequences.

X is true because accepting that X is true has positive consequences.

X is false because accepting that X is false has positive consequences.

To put it in the current context, it is to argue that if one holds that fallen humans are not the image of God, then there is no reason not to murder them, no reason to treat them with respect, etc.
Of course, even if this were true, it still is not an argument against the idea. It just means that one may not like the consequences thereof. However, it of course is not true. Strange that I have not killed or kicked around my dog yet, since I do not consider her to have the image of God, or that I have not blown up the world because the earth is not God's image. There are many other reasons why you would still treat fallen people with respect and not murder them, one of which is that the image of God seeks to create and preserve covenant human life, and that means that a life saved through the gospel is part of the work of the people of God as God's images. 

But imagine arguing against other doctrines this way, as some do. Calvinism is dangerous and alarming because if we believe it, no one will evangelize, it means that God does not love everyone the same, and it will lead to an antinomian lifestyle.

All of these have been true consequences of someone believing Calvinism; and yet, they are misapplications of it, as the above argument against the image of God would be.

In fact, Christianity itself is/was seen as dangerous and alarming. If one believed in the Roman Empire, for instance, all of society, rooted in paganism, would fall apart. To the Jews it was dangerous and alarming because they thought if grace was preached, the Mosaic Law would be thrown out. None of this was the logical consequence of Christianity, but one could argue that it could be used to do all of this. 

I would argue that even now genuine Christianity is exclusive, which is part of the imago Dei discussion, and one could be very alarmed that it will destroy the unity of the American zeitgeist. 

Arguments from the consequence aren't real arguments because they only showcase the fears and comfort with the traditions of the individual. They don't attack the arguments at all, and so they leave the arguments untouched in perfect condition. 

As the people of God, we are to do better than this, since one who attacks an argument he does not like with such fallacies one day will be attacked with those same fallacies the next. And that's a consequence I would rather avoid.

Monday, October 28, 2019

If You Have Nothing Nice to Say, Speak the Truth in Love

Here we go again. It's time to pull 2 Timothy 2:24-26 off the shelf again so that those extremely concerned about expressing love through tone can condemn anyone that says anything harshly. I didn't listen to Macarthur's rebuke of the FILL IN THE BLANK woman being disobedient because egalitarian ignorance says she can this particular week, but I'm familiar with the usual "your tone is unloving" card played. It's kind of the Christian equivalent of calling someone racist or a Nazi. If your tone is off then you are an immature, unloving, judgmental, no good, lousy leader (apparently insinuating all of that is not unloving because it's just implied as truth in righteous anger). As the old adage goes, "If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all," unless you're critiquing the person saying un-nice things, then say all of the mean things you want.

Now, I'm actually split on the tone issue. From one standpoint, it is true that tone can convey a demeaning of another Christian. If it is snarky, implies the other person is stupid, indicates a lack of concern for the other person, etc. (you know, the type of tone you get when you go in a Reformed chat room or Facebook page), then I do think it falls under the condemnation of Jesus in Matthew 5 of calling your brother Raca or "You Fool." Our tone toward one another should be one of honor and love.

However, it needs also to be understood that our culture cares more about tone than truth because it holds to relativism when it comes to religious truth. Since no one necessarily knows the truth, what becomes important is how we treat one another (I'm not sure how anyone knows that truth, but oh well). The truth is unattainable, but how I make someone feel as a person is what is really important. This is why we often read tone into any challenge we don't like. It's not that it is true or false, but that it must by default be bad because I don't like it. Hence, your tone sounds arrogant and judgy. How dare you put your truth, i.e., speculative conclusions of your subjective experience, over my truth, i.e., speculative conclusions of subjective experience. It's already snarky to begin with. No added condescension is needed.

The former concern for tone is a good one, but it should be understood that harsh speaking and sarcasm employed, not to degrade a brother but to drive home a point, is included in the list of biblically acceptable tones of love.

The latter disposition, however, would also condemn Jesus, the prophets, the apostles, etc., but of course, everyone makes an exception for them. Maybe their tone was acceptable in that day and seen as loving? Yeah, that's why everyone baked them a cake when they rebuked them (see that's a use of the former loving tone--you needed that and love delivers).

Having said all of that, let's not use God's Word as a handmaiden to our cowardly ethics. 2 Timothy 2:24-26 does not apply to someone in sin and unrepentantly disobedient. Let's look at the whole passage that starts actually in v. 23.

But reject foolish and ignorant controversies, because you know they breed infighting. And the Lord’s slave must not engage in heated disputes but be kind toward all, an apt teacher, patient. correcting opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance and then knowledge of the truth and they will come to their senses and escape the devil’s trap where they are held captive to do his will. 

Notice that this is talking about people who argue over speculative nonsense. It isn't talking about someone in unrepentant sin. The Lord's servant must be patient with such a one because they may still be trying to learn, they may yet repent of their stirring up disputes over unbiblical issues, etc. This has zero to do with someone in direct violation of the commands of Scripture. 

Now, I do think I would apply this to even people who were in sin by being in violation of direct teachings of Scripture, if they were just struggling with understanding, etc., but this does not apply to the heretic/apostate who continues to do evil even after rebuked and taught otherwise.

The heretic gets a sharp rebuke, even with evidence of disdain from Jesus, the prophets, and the apostles. There is no Mr. Rogers' tone for such a one. In fact, it is commanded to harshly rebuke rebellious heretics of this nature (ἐλέγχειν Titus 1:9) like their Master and His apostles do throughout their ministries.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't practice being nice where we can be, but it does mean that we shouldn't confuse the term "nice" with the term "kind." "Kind" is giving what is needed. "Nice" is giving respect, and that means that one might be giving respect when shame should be brought instead. They can be combined, but one can also cancel out the other. Kindness is an expression of love. Niceness may or may not be. In fact, niceness can be an expression of self-love and therefore hatred for the other instead because it withholds what is needed to receive honor from the other person (if you're nice, people will be nice to you // if you give honor, you will receive it from them). But love is always kind, but not always nice. So if you have nothing nice to say, speak the truth in love, and if necessary, do it harshly.

A List of Biblical Verses that Describe the Image of God in Ontological Categories

Only Christ Is True Humanity

If God's goal in creation is to fill up the earth eternally with humans, then this means that only those humans who will fill up the earth for eternity are true humans. In other words, whenever God completes His creation of humanity, the end result of what humans are is what a true human looks like.

Part of this stems from my understanding that God did not complete creation, but rather He began His creation and continues to create until all chaos is beneath the feet of humanity by being under Christ's feet. In other words, the creatures He initially creates are not the creatures that will be when completed. The creation He makes is not the creation that will be when completed. They, and it, will all be changed. This is the work of God through Christ in us, making us into what God purposed humanity to be, and what humanity is purposed to be, what it looks like in the end, is true humanity. Anything else that does not reach this goal is not truly human. So what does a true human look like?

We are told that they are imperishable, incorruptible, undefiled, immortal, etc., as they partake of the divine nature. They are perfected in every way, without sin, and glorified in union with their Creator through Jesus Christ. They are, therefore, called a "new creation," implying that they are no longer of the older state they were before.

What this means is that they are different from the unbeliever, as they are different from their former selves. And what that means is that the believer is a different creature even now than he was before, which further means that he is a different creature than unbelievers are. And if that creature is more human, since it is closer to that end result of the true humanity God is making and with whom He will communion with for all eternity, then that means that believers have entered into true humanity through Jesus Christ, and unbelievers, not being at all what true humanity will be, are not.

This also means that Jesus Christ, now glorified, is the only true human who exists at the present time. He alone is what He will be in His humanity for all eternity. He alone, therefore, is what God intended to make in His creation of humans. He alone is what defines true humanity. He is the one true human.

In the already-not yet, we have received true humanity in our spirits, having been regenerated/reborn/recreated in His likeness, and in sanctification, we seek to become like Him as we reach out in our race toward our resurrection, the completion of our humanity in the glorification of the body. We find our true humanity, therefore, in Him, and apart from Him, all is lost, including our humanity.

He is our one true hope. He is everything. He is our value, our life, our created purpose, the final destination of God's creation, and the completion of our very human nature.

Those who wish to say that all humans are equally human, whether believer or unbeliever, and ignore the division the Scripture sets between them, have neither understood the creational goal of the gospel nor the exclusivity of Christ in its glorious depth.

The believer therefore cries out, "O Wretched Man that I am, who will save me from this body of death?" The unbeliever should cry out, "Who will save us from existing as a entire being, spirit and body, of death?" The answer, "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

Why the Imago Dei Is Not a Characteristic of the Unbeliever

There are those who believe in the functional/relational view of the image (in fact, I would say most of modern OT scholars who have studied the issue), but think that it merely has to do with having children, covenant or otherwise. I want to lay out why this is not the case, and why I continually say that it is about filling up the earth with covenant children/human beings.

1. If one becomes the image merely by having children or being open to it, then that automatically means that homosexuals, women having abortions, and people using birth control are not the image of God. I would agree that they are not, but this destroys the attempt at making the term inclusive of all mankind.

2. It is important to note that the role of the image is to be fruitful and multiply and fill up the earth, ending in the rule of the earth and over chaos. The problem is that not only is anyone who works against this not the image of God (e.g., murderers, homosexuals, people who use abortion and birth control, etc.), but anyone who teaches their children a false religion or worldview (i.e., all unbelievers).

The reason why this is the case is that everyone outside of Christ, all who follow false religions and worldviews, which is every unbeliever, will eventually be removed from the earth. This means that the teaching of false religion and worldviews, and the following thereof, is an anticreational act of murdering any children one has, and many other people as well. In other words, it does not fill up the earth with humans. It removes them from the earth.

The unbeliever cannot fulfill the role of the image because only one in covenant with God can raise up covenant children who will fill up the earth for all eternity. What the unbeliever does is place more chaotic agents in the world who one day must be removed.

Of course, this is every man outside of Christ. Once Christ places these chaotic agents/unbelievers in Him, He redeems them to true humanity and the image, both via imputation of His righteous image in justification and via infusion as they are conformed to His image through sanctification.

This is largely why marrying an unbeliever was considered such an act of apostasy, since, as Ezra-Nehemiah and Malachi both argue, God's purpose of making the two become one flesh was to acquire "holy/godly offspring" (Ezra 9:1-2; Mal 2:15), not just offspring.

Hence, as the second Adam, He accomplishes the work of the image by forever filling up the earth with covenant human beings, and all who are in Him are the means through which He does it. Everyone else works against God's creational work, and therefore, empty the world rather than filling it in the end.

One is the work of God tasked to His image who reflect Him in their work, and the other the work of Satan tasked to unbelievers by their god who they reflect in their work.

So the work of the image is in the creation and preservation of covenant children/human beings, which explains why the Bible is exclusive in terms of God's covenant people, privileges them over unbelievers, and makes all of creation about them. In that regard, although the believer can be an image of either due to his two natures, the unbeliever cannot be anything but the image of the devil, working toward the emptying of the world of covenant children/human beings who would dwell in it forever. For the unbeliever it is non posse non peccare, and this is due to his status as a murderer via the falsehood he preaches with his words and his life.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Reformed Theologians on the Image of God

The Devil's Images

An image/likeness is a representative of a being, usually of a deity or a king. In functional terms, it stands in for the deity or king. Through it, the deity or king does his or her will, and the image exists in a place to express the domain of the one it represents to others.

When we discuss humanity as an image, we must keep this biblical and ancient Near Eastern view in mind. Image has nothing to do with ontological characteristics of the image, as an image can literally be any likeness and sometimes just an object with no likeness (e.g., an Asherah pole). An image has to do with its function. Who does it represent? What domain is it claiming for its deity or king? These questions have to do with its role.

This is why the image in the Bible has to do with joining God in His work as Creator. His creation is not complete until the world is full of human images who have overcome chaos. The first humans are made to begin to fulfill this role and other humans after them were meant to continue it.

So if humans rejected that role and decided to go with the one offered to them by the devil, what are they now but images, not of God, representatives not of His rule over their domain, but the devil's.

Hence, the Scripture tells us that the god of fallen humanity and its world is not YHWH, but the devil (2 Cor 4:4). We were in his domain, the kingdom of darkness, in his rule, representing his rule, until we were transferred from his kingdom to the kingdom of the Son (Col 1:13). Ephesians 2:1-2 states:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience”

The devil is the prince who rules from the invisible realm through the sons of disobedience. Hence, as he is a destroyer/murderer/liar, all mankind in him are described the same way (Rom 3:10-18). Those who are outside of Christ are his children (Matt 13:38; John 8:44; Acts 13:10; 1 John 3:10). They are federally linked to the devil as their father, and so they represent him in everything they do. That is what the image does, and that is why they are the image of the devil, and not of God.

Christ must restore us to the image or we are without God and without hope in the world. He is our only hope, the true image of the invisible God, the Son of God who makes us sons of God, and restores to us the representative role of the image that was lost when we rejected God's work for the adversary's.

Hence, Luther concluded that fallen man is Satan's image, not God's, and the Reformed confessions conclude likewise.

Large Emden Catechism (1551):
Q. 81. How should I understand this?
R. Indisputably, the image and likeness of God, in which man was created in the beginning, along with all inclinations for good, was lost in him.
Q. 82. How should I understand this?
R. This image of God was in Adam in the beginning, by virtue of which he was immortal, holy, wise, and lord of the entire world, and thus was endowed with the freedom and ability to either completely execute or disregard the commandment of God. However, the image of God in himself and in all of us he so destroyed by his sin, that henceforth, all offerings intended for goodness were utterly destroyed both in himself and in all of us (Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation [Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2008], vol. 1, p. 607).
Scottish Confession (1560):
3. By which transgression, commonly called original sin, was the image of God utterly defaced in man; and he and his posterity of nature, became enemies of God, slaves to Satan, and servants to sin.

Confession of the Spanish Congregation of London (1560/61):
4:1. We confess that, man, at his creation, having received from the hand of God the powers of wisdom and the ability and will to know, love, and serve his Creator, persisting in his obedience (which is commonly called free will), received also a law (Gen. 2), in the obedience of which he exercised these admirable gifts; which, breaking by his own free will (Gen. [3]), at the same time was marred from the image of God, and all the benefits that make him like God. And from the state of being wise, good, just, truthful, merciful, and holy he was rendered ignorant, evil, impious, a liar, and cruel, clothed in the image and likeness of the devil toward whom he moved as he departed from God, with the loss of that holy liberty with which he was created (Eccl. 7; 2 Peter 2), and thus was made a slave and servant of sin and of the devil (Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation [Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010], vol. 2, p. 376).

Belgic Confession (1561):
14. We believe that God created man out of the dust of the earth, and made and formed him after his own image and likeness, good, righteous, and holy, capable in all things to will, agreeably to the will of God. But being in honour, he understood it not, neither knew his excellency, but willfully subjected himself to sin, and consequently to death, and the curse, giving ear to the words of the devil. For the commandment of life, which he had received, he transgressed; and by sin separated himself from God, who was his true life, having corrupted his whole nature; whereby he made himself liable to corporal and spiritual death. And being thus become wicked, perverse, and corrupt in all his ways, he hath lost all his excellent gifts, which he had received from God, and only retained a few remains thereof, which, however, are sufficient to leave man without excuse; for all the light which is in us is changed into darkness, as the Scriptures teach us, saying: The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not: where St. John calleth men darkness ...

 Documents of the Debrecen Synod (1567):
First, since the image of God was lost by Adam, it was restored through the image of the infinite God, consubstantial and equal with the Father, i.e., Christ was made to us righteousness, life, truth, and sanctification; that is, He restored our lost virtues (1 Cor. 1; Col. 1-2; Eph. 1, 3; 1 Cor. 15). “Day by day, we are renewed more and more to His image through the Spirit of God” (cf. 2 Cor. 3:18). “Put on the new man, who has been created in accordance with God” (Eph. 4:24) ... Therefore Christ, by the power of His deity, has restored the image of God, the lost virtues (Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation [Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2012], vol. 3, pp. 17-18).

Craig's Catechism (1581):
Q. In whose image made He them? (Gen. 1:26)
A. In His own image.
Q. What is the image of God? (Eph. 4:24)
A. Perfect uprightness in body and soul.
Q. What was the craft of Satan here?
A. He persuaded them that good was evil and evil was good.
Q. How could they be persuaded, having the image of God?
A. They had the image, but not the gift of constancy.
Q. What things did they lose through their fall? (Gen. 3:17)
A. The favor and image of God, with the use of the creatures.
Q. What succeeded the loss of the favor and image of God? (Gen. 3:14)
A. The wrath of God and original sin.
Q. What is original sin? (Rom. 5:19; 7)
A. The corruption of our whole nature
Q. In what did their salvation stand?
A. In the remission of their sin and repairing of God's image.
Q. What followed upon the repairing of God's image? (Rom. 7:5)
A. A continual battle both within and without.
Q. From whence does this battle proceed?
A. From the two contrary images in mankind.
Q. What are these images?
A. The image of God and the image of the serpent (Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation [Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2012], vol. 3, pp. 545, 546, 549).

Canons of Dordt (1618-1619):
III/IV:1. Man was originally formed after the image of God. His understanding was adorned with a true and saving knowledge of his Creator, and of spiritual things; his heart and will were upright; all his affections pure; and the whole man was holy; but revolting from God by the instigation of the devil, and abusing the freedom of his own will, he forfeited these excellent gifts; and on the contrary entailed on himself blindness of mind, horrible darkness, vanity and perverseness of judgment, became wicked, rebellious, and obdurate in heart and will, and impure in his affections.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Story Wars: Return of the Junk-Fi

The older I get, and the more I watch Star Wars movies, the more I root for the Empire. What exactly are the rebels bringing to the table anyway? Disorder and a couple of argumentative droids?

If you're a stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder like me, then you probably have seen the new Star Wars trailer. And unlike every other stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder out there, I am not going to guess what the movie is about having never seen it. But then again, since Star Wars is filled with so many contradictions, why not its fans as well?

However, it does make me wonder, Are Rey and Ben uniting to defeat the emperor reflections of J. J. Abrams' hopes about Democrats and Republicans uniting to take down the President? Is this meant to be another preachy attempt to force modern sentiments on the masses like the last movie was? Could this movie really be about the impeachment of Emperor Palpatrump?

Maybe I'm just too cynical with modern Disneywood, but Star Wars has become just so dumb it does make me wonder. What ever happened to the good ol' days of the Star Wars' Holiday Special when all of the writers were on major drugs and couldn't put two coherent sentences together, and we all forgave them because they did the best that they could under the influence of a massive amount of crack cocaine? Have no illusions, they're still on drugs but apparently the ones that make you hallucinate that the modern political atmosphere actually has something meaningful to contribute to the Star Wars universe. The attempt to interject vacuous morality in Sci-Fi lately has caused me to think that a new category should be created called, "Junk-Fi." Junk-Fi is any Sci-Fi movie that prioritizes its message over the quality of the medium through which it is communicated. So far, the last movie was the best example of Junk-Fi I can think of. It may be that this next one will be the same. That message, of course, is that humanity must unite to overcome its adversaries, which are all essentially physical manifestations of death. Both the lack of reality of the message itself, but also the poor quality of the story used to convey that message, sadly, seems to be the future of these movies.

Oh well, at least they have lots of lightsabers and explosions while they attempt to show us that we must all unite as one big brotherhood of man if we are to defeat our greatest foe, i.e., another man. I love the hypocritical contradictions in this series. It reminds me of Obiwan saying, "Only a Sith deals in absolutes." LOL. That's an absolute statement followed by numerous absolute statements about good and evil there, Yoda.  Did I mention I'm rooting for the Empire?

This is a common theme lately. Let's all unite against our common enemy. Togetherness. We can be heroes. There are two prominent narratives at play in our stories: "the narrative of the hero" and "the narrative of the heroes." The narrative of the hero works well in a Christian context where Christ is the hero who engages the enemy and saves humanity. The narrative of the heroes is where humanity unites to save itself. Christ isn't needed. Humanity uniting is the key to defeating the darkness. I see this narrative in most of my kids' shows now. It has taken over the narrative of the hero. The Avengers becomes a bigger hit than any of the single hero movies, although they are still there, since down deep, we all know that humanity uniting isn't going to cut it. But it's a fantasy that is pervasive among modern stories that doesn't really appear all that much, if at all, in past stories of the world throughout history. Maybe the story of the heroes is a modern invention of the positivity movement, or an illusion of an activist culture that has come to believe that they can change things for the better by holding sit-ins and yelling really loud together. But after the marches are over, the darkness still remains, and all that is left is a monument of garbage that litter the streets, memoralizing their involvement in the movement to make things better. Death still comes for us all, and every human who has ever lived, lives now, or ever will live, cannot escape it by joining hands. Every last one of them will be overcome by it. Only "the Hero" has prevailed, and so only "the narrative of the hero" is accurate to real life. "It's an older code, but it checks out." So I hope if this is another, "Let's all unite" narratives that feature heroes instead of the hero, the Empire wins because that is what will truly happen in reality without Christ. Now that's a movie I'd give up an afternoon of bulls-eyeing womp rats in my T-16 for.

Friday, October 18, 2019

The Immoral Whopper: The Immorality of Beyond Meat and Certain Kinds of Veganism

This post is not going to argue that Beyond Meat or Veganism is wrong in general. Instead, I am going to argue that they are wrong when they have a specific motivation for doing them that is immoral.

What could be immoral about food? you may ask. Well, of course, nothing. Food is nothing. It is how or why we use it that can be immoral. The immorality is in the person that uses it for an evil purpose.

What I find to be an evil use of these two things is the motivation to save animals from harm. Why would that be evil? you may ask with a puzzling look on your noggin.

Generally, again, it isn't. If a human wants to produce harm in a creature for the sake of producing harm, i.e., for some fulfillment of a sadistic urge, then that person is evidencing demonic behavior.
However, if a person is inflicting harm and death in order to save himself or others from harm or death, then one must ask whether it is moral to do this in such a situation to an animal.

For instance, if an animal were to attack my child, I have a duty to inflict harm on the animal and even kill it in order to save my child. The reason why this is the case is that I consider my child more valuable than the animal. The life of my child is of greater value than the life of the animal that attacks her. In fact, I would say this for humans as well (the life of the innocent is more valuable than the life of the murderer because he has become a spiritual animal), but right now we're just discussing ontological animals.

Many, although not all, would agree that the life of my child is more valuable in that situation, and therefore, it would be immoral not to inflict harm and take the life of the animal. But what if the animal was not an active threat? What if not harming and killing an animal posed only a potential threat to the life of my family or other human beings?

For instance, if there is a black widow spider in the house, it may not be doing anything to my family at all. It may never bite a single person in the household. A mouse in the household may never bring in a disease that would harm the household. However, the mere possibility that allowing these to live threatens my family, I place the value of my family over the value of the animals.

Now, is this merely a subjective valuing because I simply have a deeper relationship with myself and my family (and other humans) than I do with these animals, or is it objectively the case that these animals have lesser value than humans?

The only objective case one can make must be dependent upon God's valuation of humans and animals. First, in Genesis 1, God makes it clear that humans are to rule over animals, take over their territory, and use it for themselves. Then, in Genesis 9, God makes it clear that animals are to be used as man's food supply in order to expand his preservation. But this is not just a result of an accommodation to fallen humanity because Jesus both says that the humans who follow him are more valuable than sparrows and eats animals, not only while he is on earth observing the festivals and providing fish for the people following Him, but even in His resurrected state (Luke 24:40-43). Not only was Jesus not fallen while on earth, but He certainly was perfect in His resurrected body, and yet, no sin, no even slight evil, was being committed by the capture and killing and eating of an animal.

Animals were made for sacrifice in cases of not only food, but clothing and ritual purity. God has made it a continual picture for us that if we must live, something must die. There must be a trade.

Hence, if there is not only an immediate possibility of starvation, but even an ongoing need of particular proteins, vitamins, hormones, etc. that allow the human to both survive and thrive, it is immoral to sacrifice the human and his health in order to save the animal from harm and death. Such an idea assumes the equivalent value of the animal to the human, and is a rejection of the biblical witness that God, not humans, has the right to, and places the right value on, the living things that He has made and owns.

The reason why this particular movement has gotten steam over the years is largely due to the fact that humans in our culture believe that they assign value, and thus, they are the gods who will decide whether animals have an equal value to humans or not. Hence, both in paganism, where pantheistic monism joins all creation together as one, and in naturalistic atheism, where all things are one from evolution, where everything is connected, all of us are just animals, it can be argued that to kill an animal is to kill one's kin.

This is not the case according to values that God has revealed, and hence, any Christian should reject such a sentiment. Human value determines human priority. Animal value determines animal priority. And they are not the same.

Let me push it further. Even if the animals are mistreated or unduly harmed by those who raise or sell them, it is immoral to reject eating them for this particular reason. The answer is not to do harm to humans because harm may come to animals. Rather the answer is to regulate those who raise and sell animals in a way that would not harm humans, but rather benefit their health without doing unnecessary harm for immoral reasons. However, if greater harm of an animal means the greater benefit of a human life (e.g., think of having to coop up animals on a boat in the 17th Century) then the greater harm is moral and refraining from it in order to place an animal's well-being over a human's is immoral.

Let me push it even further. Even if a human can get his nutrition from other sources, and even if it is acceptable for individual humans here and there to do so, it may even be wrong for all of humanity to do so because it may communicate the idea that animals are equal in value to humans. Furthermore, humans have become the dominant predator in the world by God's design. As man takes over areas of land, he replaces the predators that God seems to have placed there only to maintain the ecosystem. If man no longer functions as predator, however, the ecosystem will be set off balance, and that imbalance will not only ironically bring undue harm to animals, but also to humans. Hence, it may be immoral for all humans to stop eating meat.

Now, let's bring in Beyond Meat. The reason why this is immoral is simply because the amount of chemicals and salt in Beyond Meat is less healthy (or should we just say, more harmful) to humans than regular meat is. So why do it? I can see no other reason other than the motivation of saving animals from harm and death at the expense of human health and well-being. This means that it is immoral.

Now, if someone wants to eat Beyond Meat because they like the taste of it, etc. that's up to them. I do think we should consider what we eat and whether it is moral for us to do harm to our own bodies. It certainly is immoral to destroy the body intentionally when it can be preserved; and I am sure we are all guilty of doing harm to ourselves and families in that way, but that is for another day.

What I am addressing here is the very motivation to save animals at the expense of humans.  One sees this every once in a while when someone who has been radicalized by their paganism or naturalism promotes the idea that humans are merely one species on the planet and they are to be exterminated if the planet is to survive. Humans are a plague, an infestation, etc. Neo-Malthusian overpopulation sentiments are usually tied to this idea. This sort of idea was seen well when a little boy fell into a gorilla enclosure and many argued that the gorilla should have been preserved at the possible cost (or even actual cost) of the boy's life. In this idea, humans are not the purpose of creation, and therefore, its primary beneficiaries, but the chaos that destroys it (the very opposite of what Scripture tells us of humanity's relationship with creation). At the very least, in the modern animal activist's view, humans are allowed to coexist with their fellow animals, but should never use them to advance their own health and well-being.

One wonders what the argument would be about a lion that kills other animals or any sort of carnivore for that matter. Some go so far as to consider it murder to kill an animal. Does that mean that all carnivores should be tried and sentenced, and then forced to eat Beyond Meat? A fate worse than death I'm sure.

If Beyond Meat is about humans enjoying a snack that won't damage them, or Veganism is about health concerns about added hormones in meat that are more harmful to humans than not eating the meat, then engaging in these things is fine and even good.  The issue is that very unbiblical assumptions are being made in emotional reactions to seeing animals treated a certain way because our culture has been brainwashed by propaganda both from philosophical arguments rooted in the Enlightenment and their favorite Disney movies that present animals as humans too.

It is immoral to refrain from doing harm and killing an animal at the expense of human health and well-being because it is immoral to value an animal as much as a human. That doesn't make a Whopper suddenly healthy for you, but it does say something if doctors are arguing that Beyond Meat is even worse for your health than the Kentucky Fried Chicken or the Whopper it seeks to substitute. To create and sell it for the sole purpose of saving animals is evil. That's like replacing sugar with Aspartame because one wants to save sugar cane from being harvested. For the reasons above, at the very least, the "Impossible Whopper" should be renamed the "Immoral Whopper."

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Bone of Bones Interview about the Occult

Here's Part I of Amber's interview of me.

Welcome to the Matrix

Western culture likes to imagine itself as made up of free-thinking individuals who are not brainwashed by any religion. The Cartesian-oriented, Enlightenment itself has produced this illusion, where people think they merely approach  a subject without a predetermined conclusion that they have been conditioned to believe. 

Yet, one must ask why it is that our culture that is either given to a mystical worldview, where popular religion tends toward paganism, or an atheistic/agnostic one, where the truly enlightened individuals argue for a reversed pantheism in their gospel of philosophic naturalism. It makes sense that since the domino of questioning authority fell in the Reformation that the domino questioning of all authority, including the Bible, would also fall. And if that domino fell, it seems one is left with questioning with only the self as a guide, where self is the authority. That in turn leads to naturalism via empirical verificationism, and a view of reality that can only be accessed through the self. For those assuming a pantheism, panentheism, and a spiritual world that can only be accessed through the self, the divine must be experienced through emotion and transcendence (which is essentially emotion), since the divine cannot be proven empirically. For those with a reversed paganism/Gnosticism, where the only true reality is the empirically verified one, it leads to atheism and agnosticism. 

But this means that this presupposition of the reliability of self-authentication is the dominant religion of the culture. It is assumed because it is everywhere practiced. It isn't free-thinking at all. It's the Cartesian Kool-Aid the Enlightenment handed to everyone in the West, and everyone simply drank it. Like a Hindu in India or a Muslim in the Middle East, it's actually just the assumed cultural religion that has been consumed thoughtlessly by countless people in the culture. In other words, it is the most non-free-thinking idea we have in the culture. An idea assumed is not an idea proven. And yet, it is with this idea that we seek to prove everything else.

It is the worldview, the religion of our time, and all who believe it are merely plugged into the Matrix while they live out their happy lives believing that the view of reality given to them is real. 

But is there any questioning worldview in our culture? It has often been assumed that Christianity is the religion of the culture. You hear this quite a bit from people. America is a Christian nation, and so forth. The problem with that idea is that it is simply false. Christianity is the predominant secondary religion in the culture. That is why it is often syncretized with the views above in various ways (e.g., all of the pagan forms of Christianity one sees in popular religion and all of the more naturualistic forms of it one sees in liberal Christianity. In reality, neither of these is Christianity at all, but a hybrid that assumes the overarching principle of the self as interpreter of the world mentioned above.

What this means is that the only free-thinker in our Western culture is someone who has a religion that does not presuppose the self as the arbiter of all things. In the West, that would predominantly be genuine, orthodox Christianity. That means that it is primiarily orthodox Christians  that are not plugged into the matrix. I argue that throughout Church History this has been the case as well. Christianity is counter-cultural. 

That also means that it will be perceived as radical, weird, and even dangerous by the masses, including those whose secondary religion is Christianity, but whose primary one is the Cartesian religion of Modernity and Postmodernity, which is why Enlightenment philosophies have sought, and are seeking, to exterminate it.

No one is free who concludes what their culture handed to them and predetermined for them to conclude. To those who wish to be set free from this, the answer is in assuming another religion, foreign to one’s culture, as primary. But to the Western world who likes the steak served to them, I simply say, "Welcome to the Matrix!"

Robinson’s Re-Dating of the New Testament: A Critical Assessment

Many Preterists attempt to date the New Testament before A.D. 70. They do so because they want to make the argument that the imminent expectation of Christ in the New Testament is to be explained by the imminent event in A.D. 70. This, of course, would make no sense if A.D. 70 came and went, and the the New Testament authors still expressed hope in an imminent coming of Christ that was still in the future.

A lot of them hang their hat on a work by John A. T. Robinson, since they view him as just an unbiased scholar who was looking at the evidence, and concluding appropriately.

Robinson is not an unbiased scholar who is just looking at the facts. He was a liberal who did not believe in the second coming of Christ, but rather wanted to convince Christians that Jesus came to show the new age of God, which he defined as love, and that all other references to the coming of Christ referred to A.D. 70, and not to a future event. In other words, he had a similar belief to that of Preterists in that he did not believe in a literal second coming, and wanted to prove it by dating the New Testament the way that he did.

His central thesis is that if certain New Testament books were written after the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple, much more would have been made of the event within them. Their virtual silence on the subject indicates, according to Robinson, that the event had not yet happened.
The problem with this argument is that (a) there are numerous Christian writings in the first and second century that all scholars agree are written after the event in A.D. 70, and yet, they do not mention the event either and do not make it the same sizeable issue that Robinson and Preterists do. It simply did not mean as much to early Christians, and so they did not mention it. (b) The New Testament books are addressing different issues that have been brought up in the church, and there are numerous historical events relating to themselves and to the Jews they do not mention. An argument from silence does not prove that an event had not yet occurred. It simply proves that such and such an author was concerned about other issues and so talked about them in the absence of talking about other events like the destruction of Jerusalem. (c) The point that many scholars make is that Matthew and Luke do make mention of the event in retrospect due to their more detailed description of the event than Mark has.[1] Jesus predicts the event as many the prophets predict future events, i.e., in more ambiguous terms. Robinson attempts to downplay and deny that these are ex eventu accounts, but Mark does, in fact, give us a basis for seeing the earlier form of the Olivet Discourse, and it is absent of these details. Luke describes it very clearly in his Olivet Discourse (even displaying a desire to distinguish the event from the ultimate climactic end, since his Gentile audience may not understand apocalyptic speech), and Matthew describes it in Jesus’ parable of the wicked tenants in 22:7, which is an allusion to an event that has already occurred and with which his audience would be familiar, not a prophecy of a future event. (d) About two-thirds of the New Testament is written before A.D. 70. Only a third within the corpus are written afterward (e.g., Matthew, Luke-Acts, John, Hebrews, Jude, 1–3 John, Revelation), and most of them (e.g., Matthew, Luke, Acts,[2] Revelation) seem to describe or have an echo of the event in their works. Hence, Robinson’s main argument for an early date of the New Testament as a whole fails to find a solid support, which is why the overwhelming majority of scholars do not accept it.

In fact, as said before, both Matthew and Luke make it a point to separate a lot of the original discourse out and place it elsewhere, indicating a desire to distinguish between the final consummation of the age and the destruction of Jerusalem. Luke, for instance, presents the final coming in a separate place in 17:22–37, and Matthew makes it a point to distinguish that event with the second coming by arguing that “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole inhabited earth as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come” (24:14). He also argues that Christ’s coming will occur “after” the destruction of Jerusalem, although in typical apocalyptic/prophetic form, he places the one immediately after the other (v. 29). Likewise, Luke expresses the fact that there is more than one day of the Son of Man, and the final one that the disciples long to see the most, will not be seen by them (17:22). 

All of this is likely due to the fact that, after the event had occurred, it was necessary to distinguish the two events for those who might confuse them, especially Luke, since his audience is a Gentile magistrate who may be unaware of the regular convention of prophetic/apocalyptic speech in the ancient Near Eastern world, Hebrew Bible, and Second Temple Judaism that combines the macrocosmic event with the microcosmic event. It is not necessary to distinguish them in such a way in Mark, as the event had not occurred yet, and it was more ambiguous as to whether both would occur at the same time (no one knew the day or hour, as Christ said, so it could have occurred at that time as well). Once the microcosmic event had occurred, however, and the macrocosmic one had not, it became necessary to distinguish them while also maintaining the integrity of the original pronouncement. 

These factors indicate that Matthew and Luke, as most scholars would argue, are written after A.D. 70, not before it. 

Likewise, in the case of Luke, distinguishing Christians from Jews, as he does in the Book of Acts, would be something necessary to do after the Jews lost their toleration by the Romans. Luke not only argues in the book that Christians are not a political threat, as concluded by various officials in the book, but also that they are not like the rebellious Jews who continually stir up trouble, both for Romans and for Christians. The condemnation of Jews at the end of the book makes it clear that the time of their grace period had already ended and that God was reaching out now to the nations. This all may be an indication that the book was written after, not before, the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. 

Other indicators in other books, such as the Apocalypse of John, indicate that they are written after A.D. 70. If John only considers the Flavian emperors as continuing the line of Caesar, and I have argued that he does, then he tells us that Nero is dead (17:9–10) and presents himself as writing under Vespasian (v. 9), even though this is a literary device used in apocalyptic works where the author speaks as though he is writing from the past about the future, which is really his present. Hence, even though he places himself under Vespasian, the text indicates that he is really writing under Domitian, the eighth king/second manifestation of the beast (vv. 9–12), and is currently suffering in exile together with those persecuted under his reign (1:9, see also 7:14).

Likewise, the opponents in much of Johannine literature (i.e., the Epistles of John, as well as Revelation) have changed from Judaizers attempting to institute Judaism over the Gentile converts to Gnostic antinomians teaching that the moral code and God of the Old Testament should be set aside. Although, this sort of Gnosticism may be present earlier than A.D. 70, the absence of the Jewish concern may provide, albeit not by itself, some evidence toward a cumulative argument for the later dating of the Epistles and Apocalypse of John. 

Revelation does use the event, but as a symbolic representation of the destruction of the unfaithful church versus the preservation of the faithful church (11:1–2), indicating that it is an event that has already occurred and can now be used symbolically to an audience that has already observed the literal event.

Robinson attempts to make some lesser arguments about the time period in which Revelation must be written since the author is writing during the sixth king's reign. However, this is simply the misunderstanding of apoclyptic literature. That's much like saying that the apocalyptic books of Enoch, Elijah, Abraham, etc. are all written during their time periods. In fact, the very fact that an author of an apocalyptic book places the writing at a particular date means that said date is actually in the past, not the present. Robinson's argument simply fails on numerous accounts (e.g., the fact that some authors seem to indicate that most if not all of the apostles have died at the time of their writing).

Having said all of that, much of the New Testament likely is written before A.D. 70; but this was never the issue. The issue is whether all of the New Testament books were written beforehand. Given the evidence, as scholars almost universally agree, the truth of this claim is less likely. Furthermore, even if one were to show an earlier dating as more plausible, the books themselves speak of eschatological fulfillment in historical events beyond A.D. 70 (i.e., the destruction of the Roman Empire, the abolition of oppression, suffering, marriage, commerce, etc. in the world).

[1] But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come. Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. Those who are inside the city must depart. Those who are out in the country must not enter it, because these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing their babies in those days! For there will be great distress on the earth and wrath against this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led away as captives among all nations. Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:20–24)
The king was furious! He sent his soldiers, and they put those murderers to death and set their city on fire. (Matt 22:7)

[2] N. H. Taylor argues that Luke-Acts presents an alternate vision of God’s presence among the nations through the gospel as opposed to the Jewish hope of rebuilding the literal temple after its destruction. “The Jerusalem Temple in Luke-Acts” HTS 60 (1&2) 2004, pp. 459–85.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Horton on World Religion

"At the other end of the spectrum from pantheism and panentheism are atheism and deism. Although Buddhism denies the existence of a personal God, Western atheism rejects any transcendent reality beyond the world of sense experience. Deism affirms the existence of a Creator God, but generally denies that this Architect of the Universe intervenes miraculously in nature or history. Especially as formulated in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by Ludwig Feuerbach, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Sigmund Freud, modern atheism sees religion as arising from a psychological need to project something or someone to whom one can pray in the face of the threats and tragedies in a random and chaotic universe.
Nietzsche advocated an “inverted Platonism,” where the upper world is illusion and the lower world is real. In fact, the dualism of two worlds is rejected as an illusion perpetuated by Christianity. Drawing on classical Greek myth, Nietzsche identifies Apollo (the god of order) with Plato’s upper world and Dionysus (the god of pagan revelry and chaotic self-indulgence) with the lower world. Where the death of ultimate meaning led Schopenhauer to a state of depression — a passive resignation to fate — his disciple Nietzsche embraced it as a call to create meaning for ourselves. “That my life has no aim is evident from the accidental nature of its origin. That I can posit an aim for myself is another matter.” As Mark C. Taylor expresses it, “The lawless land of erring, which is forever beyond good and evil, is the liminal world of Dionysus, the Anti-Christ, who calls every wandering mark to carnival, comedy, and carnality.”

Amid important differences, there are some surprising similarities between pantheism and atheism. In fact, they are two sides of the same coin. Both embrace the view that being is univocal: in other words, that there is only one kind of reality or existence. In this perspective, there is reality (that which exists) and then there are particular beings who exist, such as divine and non-divine entities. In the “overcoming estrangement” paradigm of pantheism, the physical world is a weak projection of an eternal (real) world. In the atheistic paradigm (“the stranger we never meet”), the projection is reversed; in fact, the longing for transcendent meaning and truth reflects a form of psychological neurosis, nostalgia for a nonexistent “beyond” that paralyzes our responsibility in the present. In other
words, pantheism assumes that the upper world is real and this world is mere appearance, while atheism assumes that this world is real and the upper world is nonexistent. In their drive toward immanence, both paradigms locate the divine within the self (reducing theology to anthropology or psychology). When, under the influence of the pantheistic scheme, modern theologians emphasized religion as a purely inner affair of mystical experience or personal piety, the atheist was then quite warranted to regard God’s existence as an entirely subjective claim with no bearing on actual reality.

In neither the pantheistic nor atheistic paradigm is God a personal being who transcends creaturely reality yet enters freely into relationship with it. Neither scheme allows for the personal intervention of God in nature and history. For pantheism, everything is “miraculous"; the divine is indistinguishable from nature or historical progress or at least the human soul. Yet “miracles” always happen within the self; they never happen in the external world, as disruptions of the ordinary process of nature. Religion or spirituality pertains exclusively to the inner or transcendent realm, beyond history and life in this world. Of course, naturalistic atheism has no place for the supernatural and deism excludes the possibility of miraculous divine intervention — either in judgment or grace. In both paradigms, nothing strange or unfamiliar is allowed to disrupt the sovereignty of the self, which is often identified as autonomy. As different as these paradigms are in many ways, they are co-conspirators in the suppression of the knowledge of God and his relationship with creatures.  
To be sure, there has been a revival of deism and atheism in our culture, but these are largely modern
(Enlightenment) heresies. In our postmodern environment, radical mysticism seems more pervasive. Turning inward for divine inspiration, many today say that they are “spiritual but not religious.” Some writers today are announcing a shift in western culture from the Age of Belief to the Age of the Spirit. A revival of pantheistic and panentheistic worldviews (much like the ancient heresy of Gnosticism) is evident in academic as well as more popular circles.

This spectrum, from pantheism and panentheism to deism all the way to atheism, plots the course of pagan ontologies (theories of reality) from primitive to postmodern cultures.
" (Michael Horton, The Christian Faith: A Theology for Pilgrims on the Way,