Biblical Interpretation Considered (2)

Man-Light

Souls Entangled in Mortality and God’s Providential Grace

There is great value in examining ourselves as we seek to understand the nature of our souls and the ends to which God has directed them. There is also great value in sharing our experiences with trusted Christians to gain broader understanding and deeper insights. We are certainly doing well by so doing. However, if this is our primary focus then we have bypassed the testimony that is of ultimate authority in these matters.

There are a few mere mortals in the Bible whose story God has chosen to share in a depth and intimacy that illuminates these issues in blazing light, if only we will pay attention. Some of these people are Abraham and Sarah, David, and the Apostles John, Paul and Peter. Their stories show us how actual human lives have been lived that are inexorably tangled by mortal cares and yet simultaneously redeemed and sustained by God’s eternal acts of providence.

Carefully, prayerfully reading these stories will not answer every question or make clear all the complexities and confusions of our lives. But they will show us great truths about ourselves, our God and the world that light our paths and strengthen our faith.

You can find my commentary on some of these mere mortals in the following resources:

iBooks Publish Announcement: The Progressive Riot

I have published my fifth eBook on iBooks.  If you have an iOS device then you can use this link to access.  If you do not use an iOS device, a PDF version can be found on my blog using this link.

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Summary

In November 2008 citizens of the United States elected perhaps the most radical Progressive politician in its history to the Presidency. The opposing citizens and outgoing Republican administration accepted this verdict without rancor or defiance. In November 2016 citizens of the United States elected perhaps the most Populist non-politician in its history to the Presidency. The opposing citizens and outgoing Democrat administration erupted in what can only be described as a riot of resistance that has continued unabated to this day.

This book seeks to expose the breadth and depth of this Progressive riot that has been tearing asunder this nation’s founding principles, governing institutions and civil society. It also seeks to identify and illuminate the various ideological sources by which Progressives justify this riot. By so doing perhaps the illusions that allowed such a situation to develop can be dispelled, thus enabling a more effective opposition.

Preface

On Tuesday, November 4, 2008 the citizens of the United States elected Barack Obama, the Democrat candidate, to the office of President. Many of the almost sixty-million who voted for John McCain, the Republican candidate, considered Mr. Obama to be the most radical Progressive politician ever elected to the presidency.

For example, it was indisputable that Mr. and Mrs. Obama had been for decades members of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ whose senior pastor was the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. Pastor Wright was a public supporter of Louis Farrakhan who is a virulent anti-Semite and hater of the United States. After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks the Rev. Wright gave a fiery sermon in which he gleefully yelled that “America’s chickens are coming home to roost!” In another sermon the Rev. Wright said “God damn America, that’s in the Bible for killing innocent people.” Mr. Obama considered Pastor Wright to be his spiritual advisor and the good pastor officiated at Mr. and Mrs. Obama’s wedding. Before Senator Obama disassociated himself from the Rev. Wright he said “I can no more disown him [Jeremiah Wright] than I can disown the black community.”

Many also knew that Barack Obama’s first run for the Illinois State Senate was launched at the house of Bill Ayers and his wife, Bernadine Dohrn. The 1995 event was a fundraiser and kickoff for the campaign. These two individuals are utterly unrepentant about their previous lives as leaders of a domestic Marxist terrorist organization in the late 1960s and early 1970s, that being the Weather Underground. When provided the opportunity to apologize for the murder and mayhem of his terrorist group in 2001 Ayers responded by saying “I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough.”

In 2007 Senator Obama was designated to be the “most liberal Senator” by the National Journal. In 2008 Louis Farrakhan endorsed Senator Obama, leading Senator Hillary Clinton to criticize the implied ideological commonality. During the 2008 campaign Senator Obama chose to denigrate tens of millions of American citizens when he made his “bitter clinger” comments. Five days before election day candidate Obama said in a public speech that his purpose was to “fundamentally transform” the United States.

My purpose is not to relitigate the 2008 presidential election. Rather I’m pointing out that those who opposed an Obama presidency had very good reason to fear the consequences of his victory. And yet there was no coordination among the George W. Bush Justice Department, Intelligence Agencies and State Department to investigate the Obama campaign as possibly infested by traitors. There was no fraudulent “dossier,” funded and created by the McCain campaign using foreign (primarily Russian) sources to undermine Senator Obama’s candidacy or to destroy his presidency after his win. And after Mr. Obama won the election there was no outpouring of demands for “resistance” by outgoing Bush high ranking officials.

There were no Republican calls to impeach Mr. Obama from the moment he was declared the election winner. There were no attempts to persuade Electors to vote for Mr. McCain even though a majority in their state had voted for Mr. Obama. There were no claims that Mr. Obama’s victory was illegitimate due to foreign (primarily Russian) interference and even vote count changing in the election. Celebrities didn’t speak about blowing up the White House, ask how long it’s been since an actor assassinated a president or pose with a mock decapitated Obama head. Elected Republican officials didn’t call for Obama administration officials to be hounded out of the public square.

No, the people in opposition to Mr. Obama accepted that the nation had legitimately elected the most radically Progressive man in its history to the Presidency. They weren’t happy about this development, but had no intention of being a disloyal (to the nation’s will and its Constitution) opposition.

And yet, when in 2016 the nation chose to elect Mr. Trump to the presidency all hell broke loose. All the things that hadn’t happened to Mr. Obama did happen (and then some) to Mr. Trump.

As a result the nation hasn’t been this divided since the 1960s Vietnam War era. A credible case can be made that our contemporary division is worse since in the 1960s it was a foreign policy issue over which we were divided as opposed to now when the very legitimacy of our democratic institutions are under attack.

What this nation has been experiencing since election day 2016 is nothing less than a wild Progressive riot in our streets, our government agencies, our mass media, our educational institutions, our states, and our federal legislatures and courts. The riot’s purpose is to overturn the 2016 election results, thus disenfranchising the over sixty-million citizens who elected Mr. Trump to the presidency.

This situation represents a radical break in our nation’s culture and institutions. This book seeks to explain how we arrived here and where we could be going. By so doing perhaps the illusions that allowed such a situation to develop can be dispelled, thus enabling a more effective opposition.

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iBooks Publish Announcement: A Denomination’s Debacle

I have published my fourth eBook on iBooks.  If you have an iOS device then you can use this link to access.  If you do not use an iOS device, a PDF version can be found on my blog using this link.

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A Denomination’s Debacle

This book is an indictment of the leadership elite who have driven the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), or PCUSA, into an utter debacle.

The most visible aspect of this debacle is the unprecedented loss of membership and churches that occurred between 2011 and 2017. Over that time span the PCUSA experienced a net loss of 601,000 members and 1146 churches, which is almost 30% of its membership and almost 12% of its churches. But these numbers don’t capture the human cost in broken trust, lost faith and shattered relationships that has occurred behind the scenes.

What remains is a denomination dominated by a post-Christian elite who use their power to advance a social gospel that is virtually indistinguishable from the secular Progressive political project. To some readers this charge against the PCUSA leadership will seem to be not just extraordinary, but also unbelievable. This book contains the extraordinary evidence that justifies the charge.

Preface Excerpt

The reader may well ask why I feel compelled to tell this story. I do so for three reasons.

First, the elite denominational leadership has obtained this end under the cloak of purposeful deception. This deception is not found in their policy and theological positions. No, they have aggressively advanced their cause with general honesty. The deception is that they claim to have been doing so as a legitimate expression of orthodox Reformed Christianity. By so doing they have preyed with premeditation and malice upon the trust of the denomination’s parishioners. We will never recover from this spell unless the truth is exposed.

Second, there are still many faithful members and churches in the PCUSA. However, unless they fully understand the forces arrayed against them they will likely eventually succumb. Only if they understand that their presence in the denomination is as a light shining in the darkness can they be protected from the apostasy and heresy that surrounds them. That understanding is what sustained the Apostles and early Christians as they proclaimed the Gospel as isolated individuals and churches in the pagan Roman Empire. The challenge we face is far less extreme. Yet, if we prioritize the comfort and peace of our lives over our responsibilities as followers of Christ even the small courage required will elude us.

Finally, the forces that have corrupted the PCUSA act upon our general culture and thus are not unique to this denomination. Therefore, we can expect that other churches and denominations are struggling under the same theological onslaught as has laid the PCUSA low. Thus this book attempts to explain these forces and how a corrupt leadership can by deception and seduction smuggle false theology into an otherwise orthodox Christian fellowship.

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iBooks Publish Announcement: God’s Acts of Providence

I have published my third eBook on iBooks.  If you have an iOS device then you can use this link to access.  If you do not use an iOS device, a PDF version can be found on my blog using this link.

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God’s Acts of Providence

The Christian doctrines associated with God’s providential acts have fallen so out of favor that their rehabilitation seems unlikely.  And yet if these doctrines are found to be true then there is no alternative but to make the attempt.  I am here seeking to reintroduce providential doctrine through examination of its practical working out in the lives of frail human flesh and blood.  By so doing they can be transformed from stiff, abstract concepts into humane, living precepts through which we can grow more deeply in love with the Triune God.  We can also begin to recapture the Christian confidence that no matter the darkness our great God is yet in control, working out His plan to ultimately redeem this fallen world.  And that God has chosen in sovereign mercy to incorporate our lives and associated wills into this great work of redemption.

Full Preface

The Christian doctrines associated with God’s providential acts have fallen so out of favor that their rehabilitation seems unlikely.  And yet if these doctrines are found to be true then there is no alternative but to make the attempt.  As I believe that they are indeed true, this work seeks to rediscover and reinstate these doctrines within Christian belief.

However, it will be difficult to deliver a compelling case if no account is taken as to just why these doctrines have fallen into disfavor.  The reason assumed by many orthodox Reformed believers is that they so bruise human pride that they fall onto deaf ears.  While there is great truth in this explanation it falls far short of completeness.

A second, and equally debilitating problem is the way that Reformed theologians have discussed these doctrines.  Far too often there is such an overwhelming emphasis placed on God’s sovereignty that we frail humans seem to disappear.  Christian believers are thus abandoned to figure out for themselves how they fit into God’s providential economy.  And, particularly in this case, the lack of clear, compelling theological guidance leaves believers vulnerable to the siren song of works-based salvation theology.

Finally, there is a temptation towards pride for those who have accepted the orthodox Reformed doctrinal positions.  That being, they come to believe that their minority status is a consequence of their intellectual achievement of having discerned God’s truth in Scripture.  Yes, the temptation of pride is universal.  However, for the orthodox Reformed it is particularly discrediting.  This is because the central consequences for humans who have been saved only by God’s mercy are humility and thankfulness.  So, when Christians see the exact opposite the result is usually rejection.

How then to rediscover and explain God’s acts of providence?  The only authoritative resource from which to work is God’s Word.  However, to simply reexamine the relevant Bible verses in isolation would surely be a superfluous exercise.

But there is another way.  If God’s providential engagement is true, then we would expect to find evidence of its operation deeply embedded throughout all Scripture.  That is, although there are indeed many passages that explicitly teach providential doctrines, they should also be revealed by God’s character as He engages with the world in general, and human beings in particular.

I have found this to be true, and here am seeking to reintroduce providential doctrine through detailed, sustained examination of its practical working out in the lives of frail human flesh and blood.  Although there are dozens of compelling cases I have chosen three:

  1. Abraham and Sarah (The Chief End of Man)
  2. The birth of Christ’s Church (The Church Invisible)
  3. The creation of the Apostle Paul (Effectual Calling)

Clearly much of the material in these stories is not directly related to providence.  However, the providential engagement of God undergirds the narratives and regularly breaks out into clear view.

By this means I contend that the argument can be advanced inoculated from the temptations previously discussed.  For example it is virtually impossible to lose sight of the human side of these engagements when the protagonists are so deeply, humanely and intimately treated.  Nor are we likely to fall into elitism when confronted with the harsh realities and heroic faith exhibited by these humble servants of God.

But the primary advantage is the opportunity to observe these admittedly difficult doctrines being weaved into the lives of real people.  By so doing they can be transformed from stiff, abstract concepts into humane, living precepts through which we can grow more deeply in love with the Triune God.  We can also begin to recapture the Christian confidence that no matter the darkness or danger our great God is yet in control, working out His plan to ultimately redeem this fallen world.  And that God has chosen in sovereign mercy to incorporate our lives and associated wills into this great work of redemption.

In Meditations on God’s Providence I will explicitly discuss doctrine.  My hope is that this meditation will be organically supported by the previous three examinations of the relationships between God and His chosen people.

Only the reader can judge the extent of my success.  However, even though I will surely fall far short of the mark, it’s my hope that others with greater knowledge and skill will recognize an alternative strategy by which core Christian doctrines can be reintroduced, explained and integrated into Christian life.

Make no mistake, the need for this work is great and growing.

iBook Publish Announcement: The Language of Suffering

Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 5.09.24 AMI have published an eBook on iBooks.  If you do not use an iOS device, a PDF version can be found on this blog’s “Document Repository” page using this link.

The Language of Suffering

We have all experienced suffering. Too often though, we leave unexamined the spiritual implications of these difficult life events. In this book we will seek to gain an understanding of suffering within the framework of God’s will through a topical study of Scripture. In the process, we may begin to place our own experiences within the context of a Christian mystery that delivers redemption from affliction, hope from anguish, and power from weakness.

 

iBooks Publish Announcement

For those of you living in the Windows and/or Android worlds, you can download the PDF version from my blog site here.

Christ and CorneliusChrist and Cornelius

I have published an eBook on iBooks.

Christ and Cornelius: The Biblical Case Against Christian Pacifism

Is Jesus Christ a pacifist?  Many Christians believe this to be the case.  However, unless this position can withstand careful Biblical scrutiny it cannot be considered true.  I have subjected this claim to that very standard in this book, and, have found it to be unsupported.  Along the way important issues regarding Biblical interpretation, the person and purpose of Jesus Christ, the application of King David’s life to our own times, the first Gentile convert to Christianity and Western Civilization’s crisis, among others, are discussed.