Tuesday, December 30
11:10 AM Off to a funeral for one of my church members and then to work on Bradford Hall, our new home in Virginia (we'll be laying more downstairs flooring and painting the dining room mantel). Plumbing is in and working, as are all of the lights and chandeliers. Can't wait for the dedication service!
10:20 AM I want to take this opportunity to wish all of you a Happy Newness Year (see Romans 6:4: "Buried with Him in baptism...so that we too might walk in newness of life"). The word "newness" is found only here and in Romans 7:6, where Paul talks of how we are to serve God in the newness of the spirit rather than in the oldness of the letter of the law. The Greek refers to what is new or fresh in both form and quality. My dear friends, may your life in Christ this coming year be new and fresh, both in its form and quality, indeed, may it be a life completely dependent upon the power of the Holy Spirit. Happy Newness Year!
10:00 AM Yippy yi yo!! Yesterday I rode for the first time following shoulder surgery last October. I don't know who enjoyed it more, my thoroughbred or me! Did some walking, trotting, cantering, then finished with a spirited gallop. Man alive, have I died and gone to heaven or what? Below: Best Mate at Britain's Ericsson Chase:
9:45 AM Ah, the French have a way of saying it, don't they? This fact struck me again as I was reading through the Gospels last night in my Louis Segond. In Matthew 28:20 our Lord promises to be with us "always" (KJV). The Greek here is literally "all the days," i.e. each and every day, with the emphasis on experiencing the Lord's presence, purpose, and power daily. My French Bible has: "Et voici, je suis avec vous tous les jours." Nice touch, eh?
9:30 AM Bom dia! Recently I linked a powerful essay on the coming underground church in America. I keep harping on this issue because most American evangelicals have their heads in the sand when it comes to the megastate and its inevitable opposition to genuine Christianity. It is the philosophy of tyrants, pure and simple. Now Jon Ryter adds this essay on the banning of Christianity, published at NewsWithViews. A key excerpt:
Christianity is now viewed as the religion of exclusivity—the world’s religion of hate. To the secular globalists who are structuring the framework of governance for the New World Order as a society of inclusiveness, there is no room in their humanist Garden of Eden for a religion that excludes homosexuals, lesbians, atheists....
I encourage you to read Jon’s essay in its entirety. Then do a Google search on persecution in America and prepare to be blown away by example after example of state interference in the free expression of religion. A sampling:
- David and Diane Reiter of Denver were ordered by the city to stop their weekly prayer meetings in their home. Even though they were complying with all municipal regulations, a city administrator determined that he did not want any religious activities in their neighborhood. The Denver couple is appealing the decision in a federal court.
- Government officials removed a display of the Ten Commandments from a public building in Manhattan, Kansas. The hand-engraved granite table had hung on the building for over 40 years, but the ACLU and the Americans United for the Separation of Church and state threatened a law suit against the city if the display remained. The city fathers choose to bow to threats instead of listening to the 4,000 residents that signed a petition asking them to leave the display alone.
- In Seattle, Washington, a 25-year-old pregnant woman was kicked off a public transit bus in the pouring rain. What was her disruptive behavior? The bus driver overheard her talking with a fellow passenger about the Lord.
- The U.S. 5th District Court of Appeals ruled that clergy in Beaumont, Texas, were no longer allowed to answer students questions about religion, sex, or abortion while on school property. Of course, “safe sex” can still be discussed in Texas schools.
- The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that students in Duval County, Florida, could no longer decide whether or not to have student-led prayers in their graduation ceremonies. According to Chief Justice Joseph Hatchett, a policy that allows prayer “coerces objecting students to participate in prayer.”
What to do? Don’t ever compromise your beliefs to placate the state. Don’t water down the exclusivity of Christianity. Constantly reaffirm your commitment to biblical truth in a sweet and Christ-like manner. Finally, when persecution comes your way (as it most certainly will), remember the words of our Savior:
Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Monday, December 29
12:15 PM Please take a moment out of your busy day to read and sign the petition to reappoint Judge Moore to the Alabama Supreme Court.
10:15 AM Geza Vermes' latest book on Jesus continues the evolutionary fallacy on the origin of the Synoptic Gospels. It's a classic example of the mind games New Testament scholarsarrogantly delight in. Once again, we are told to test the sayings of Jesus to see which areauthentic and which were placed on His lips by the early church, all in keeping with the Sitz im Leben approach to Jesus research that grew out of the quest for the hysterical (er, historical) Jesus. As I've attempted to show in my book Why Four Gospels?, we can accept the priority of Mark's Gospel only if we are willing to jettison the unanimous opinion of the earliest Christians that Matthew came first, something I am hardly ready to do. And it's more than just a question about chronology. The real issue is of far greater importance: the historicity and trustworthiness of the Gospels.
9:00 AM We must never forget the fallen.
8:30 AM Isabel Lyman just sent me a link to her essay on the country's wackiest liberal communities. Go Izzy!
8:00 AM According to AgapePress:
Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the world's largest abortion provider, is a "money machine." The agency's just-released annual report shows a total income of more than three-quarters of a billion dollars: $288 million in clinic operations, $254 million in taxpayer money, and $228 million in donations. The report also indicates the abortion mill made more than $36 million in profits during the 2002-2003 fiscal year, three times the profits reported in the previous fiscal year. Both the overall income and taxpayer figures for 2002-2003 are record highs for the agency. During the same reporting period, Planned Parenthood performed 14,000 more surgical abortions than last year. The agency gets tens of millions of dollars from our federal government through the birth-control program known as "Title X," which is included in the budget of the Department of Health and Human Services. Steve Lefemine, director of Columbia (SC) Christians for Life, says many Republicans voted for that funding and that President Bush signed it into law. Lefemine says Christians should stop wasting their votes on people who will not stand up for righteousness.
I agree. This election cycle, become a one issue voter.
Friday, December 26
11:45 AM David Brownlow, candidate for Congress on the Constitution Party ticket, has this to say about our Santa Claus in DC:
Health care is not free and it never will be. Somebody has to pay for it. And the money can only come from one place - you and me. Why would anyone assume that the federal government can confiscate our money, take it all the way back to Washington DC and then turn around and send a little of it back - but yet somehow provide better medical care for us than we could if we just kept our own money in the first place? It makes absolutely no sense.
The federal government has no business in the health care business. We need to take the nearly $500 billion we are spending now on Medicare and Medicaid and send it back to the states and to the people. Let the states decide how to best care for their own people.
Folks, it is my children (and yours) who will be paying for our self-indulgence today.
11:00 AM One of the questions I like to ask myself is, To what extent should our churches follow the practices of the early church? This question is being asked today not only by Baptists but by Christians in all denominations. One vital issue concerns mutual participationduring the assembly. But there are many other important issues as well. It is encouraging to note that these questions have been around for a very long time. J.L. Dagg, a fellow Southern Baptist who wrote a manual on church order in 1858, makes the following perceptive comments (note especially his concluding sentence):
It must be admitted, that the Scriptures contain very little in the form of direct precept relating to the order and government of churches. But we have no right to require that everything designed for our instruction in duty, should be made known to us only in the way of direct command. Judicious parents give much instruction to their children by example; and this mode of instruction is often more intelligible and more useful than precept. It was made the duty of the apostles to teach their converts whatsoever Christ had commanded, and to set the churches in order. If, instead of leaving dry precepts to serve for our guidance, they have taught us, by example, how to organize and govern churches, we have no right to reject their instruction, and captiously insist that nothing but positive command shall bind us. Instead of choosing to walk in a way of our devising, we should take pleasure to walk in the footsteps of those holy men from whom we have received the word of life. The actions of a wise father deserve to be imitated by his children, even when there is no evidence that he intended to instruct them by his example. We revere the apostles, as men inspired with the wisdom which is from above; and respect for the Spirit by which they were led, should induce us to prefer their modes of organization and government to such as our inferior wisdom might suggest. But the apostles designed that their modes of procedure should be adopted and continued. Paul commended the church at Corinth, because they had kept the ordinances as he had delivered them. Some things which needed further regulation, he promised to set in order when he came, evidently implying that there was an order which ought to be established. Titus, whom he had instructed, he left in Crete, to ordain elders in every city, and to set in order the things that were wanting. To Timothy, he said: "The things which thou hast heard of me, the same commit thou to faithful men who shall be able to teach others also"[2 Tim.2:2]. As matters of church order formed a part of of his own care and action, and a part of what he had committed to Titus, so we must believe that they formed a part of that instruction which he had given to Timothy, to be transmitted by him to other faithful men, and by them to their successors . . . We arrive, therefore, at the conclusion that, whatever the apostles taught, whether by precept or example, had the authority, not only of the Holy Spirit by which they were guided into all truth, but also of their Lord who had commissioned them (Manual of Church Order, pp.84-86).
For some helpful and thought-provoking links on the early church, please go to our section titled Unleashing the Church.
Tuesday, December 23
9:15 AM My syllabi for J-term Greek, for New Testament Introduction (Norfolk), and Intermediate Greek are now available at the Southeastern website. Students, if you have any questions, feel free to email or call me. J-term students will need to get this grammar andthis textbook. Until I see you again, have a fantabulous break!
6:15 AM Mel Gibson's movie is not the only controversial portrayal of the death of Christ. The Alexamenos graffito of Rome is another one, and Rodney Decker's essay on it is fascinating reading. The graffito was discovered on the NW wall of the room 7 of the so-called Paedagogium (a school for the servants of the Imperial Palaces) situated on the southwest slope of the Palatine Hill, towards the Circus Maximus. It is a caricature of the crucifixion and possibly the first artistic rendering of the death of Christ. The Greek letters on it may be transcribed as ALEXAMENOS SEBETE THEON, "Alexamenos worships God." The comment is probably sarcastic: a figure stands before a crucified man with the head of an ass. Contemporary Christian writers remarked that pagans accused the Christians of worshiping an ass.
For other remarkable pictures of the crucifixion, click here.
6:00 AM David Brownlow has some bad news and some good news. The bad news: We've been sold a bill of goods by the GOP. The good news:
We never want to forget that in spite of the mess we have made for ourselves, there is still some really, really good news to share this holiday season …The good news is that God sent his Son Jesus to die for our sins. And "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1John 1:9
The only important victory is already won! Hallelujah!
I say Amen! To read David's entire column go here.
Monday, December 22
4:00 PM If you haven't heard Jim Elliff's sermon A Call to Repent, please go to my sermon archives. You won't be disappointed - except with inflated membership statistics!
1:15 PM I was born and raised on the beautiful island of Oahu in Hawaii. It was truly the Paradise of the Pacific. I can remember when Waikiki was a small town and had only three major hotels, including the Royal Hawaiian. All that has changed. Traffic congestion is now worse than in L.A. (and I don't mean "Lower Alabama"). As Joni Mitchell used to say, "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."
12:45 PM Speaking of Roy Moore, get this: A book that asks whether subjects are obligated to obey rulers who issue commands contrary to the law of God. I'm speaking of Vidiciae Contra Tyrannos, or, A Defense of Liberty Against Tyrants, first published in 1579. The book was held by John Adams to be one of the most influential books in America on the eve of the Revolution. It merits, I should think, a careful reading by all.
10:00 AM The Latin language is back in the news in light of Gibson's "use" of it in The Passion. It's a great language, to be sure. When I graduated from the University of Basel, I swore my doctoral oath in it, and in fact had to pass an oral in Latin to begin doctoral studies there. It's easier than Greek, I think, but then again, everything's relative. One thing seems certain, however: its use in The Passion will continue to be hotly debated.
By the way, Gibson's movie now has an official site in Spanish.
9:45 AM I couldn't agree more with Ann Coulter writing about Roy Moore. As I have said elsewhere, Moore is a rare breed: a true Christian statesman:
A lot of conservatives said Moore was wrong to refuse to comply with the court's idiotic ruling. Conservatives keep trying to play fair in the faint hope that, someday, liberals will play fair too. Note to conservatives: That will never happen.
The conservative argument for enforcing inane court rulings is that the only other option is anarchy. But we are already living in anarchy. It's a one-sided, Alice-in-Wonderland anarchy in which liberals always win and conservatives always lose—and then cheerfully enforce their own defeats. Oh, you see an abortion clause in there? Okay, I don't see it, but we'll enforce it. Sodomy, too, you say? Okay, it's legal. Gay marriage? Just give us a minute to change the law. No prayer in schools? It's out. Go-go dancing is speech, but protest at abortion clinics isn't? Okie-doky. No Ten Commandments in the courthouse? Somebody get the number of a monument removal service.
What passes for "constitutional law" can be fairly summarized as: heads we win, tails you lose. The only limit on liberal insanity in this country is how many issues they can get before a court.
If a federal judge can issue an opinion premised on the finding that Chief Justice Moore is "Congress," why can't Moore, in his capacity as "Congress," tell the judge he's impeached? But we can't do that, conservatives say, because that's not really what the liberals mean. And if we don't give liberals everything they want, when they want it, it will lead to anarchy.
Apparently the only thing standing between a government of laws and total anarchy is the fact that conservatives are good losers. If we don't obey manifestly absurd court rulings, the argument goes, then liberals won't obey court rulings when they lose.
9:30 AM Yet another reason to homeschool your children.
9:00 AM Good morning one and all! I had a relaxing weekend working on our new house with my son. Installed more lights and worked on the dining room fireplace mantle. Weekend reading included Laura Ingraham's Shut Up and Sing (C-), Michael Moore's Dude, Where's My Country? (B-), and the Gospel of Luke in French (A++, obviously). After my last visit to Paris I thought I'd rehash my francophone abilities, especially my appalling pronunciation. To this end a student of mine who is a native French speaker has been most helpful. I hope he'll forgive me, but I can't help quoting Mark Twain's famous barb: "In Paris they just simply opened their eyes and stared when we spoke to them in French! We never did succeed in making those idiots understand their own language."
Friday, December 19
4:00 PM Students who think they already know how to do word studies from the Greek might want to read this essay on language.
2:30 PM I thought I should say something about Bush's Taiwan policy, but the America First website has done such a good job there's no need to add anything. Here is a key excerpt:
President Bush's double standard and hypocrisy bring shame upon the whole country. While he pursues an illegal war in Iraq against Saddam Hussein, a tin-pot dictator who posed no real threat to the United States, he entertains as his guests at the White House the butchers of Beijing who even now brandish WMDs against the United States. Worse, Bush denounces the freedom-loving, democratic people of Taiwan who seek only to follow in the steps of our Founding Fathers. Bush's conduct is a stain upon the honor of the United States. He has proven himself disloyal to the basic tenets of Americanism.
11:30 AM Today's worthy reads include this one on the purpose of law, an essay on the IRS, and a great piece on how the media likes to slander all things Southern. Also, Lee Shelton has just updated his commentary page at Ever Vigilant, a superb website!
8:15 AM Personally, I like the new name for the European Baptist Convention. It better reflects their focus on world missions. I truly believe that should Germany ever experience a revival of the sort it had immediately after WW II, there would be no stopping German missionaries. Already groups like the Liebenzeller Mission are sending out young evangelists worldwide. Yet in all the renewed focus on the world, European Baptists must not lose sight of the fact Europe itself is still very much a mission field.
8:00 AM My devotions this morning have been in the works of one of my favorite New Testament professors of all time, J. Gresham Machen. Daniel Walker reminds us that Machen was not only a noted scholar but also a great defender of the Constitution and liberty. (How odd, you say, a New Testament scholar who is interested in restoring the nation's constitutional foundations. Shouldn't they just stick with writing Greek grammars and pursuing their "scholarly" reputations?)
Walker puts it this way:
The parallel rise of theological liberalism and the growth of governmental power in this century in America, it could be argued, was hardly coincidental. Historic Christianity was abandoned by theological liberalism, and the "Social Gospel" movement - having given up on the Gospel - wished to impose its own vision of the City of God here on earth. Biblical authority was weakened; a governmental authority filled the void.Looking back, it is no surprise that Machen-whose primary battles were in the theological arena-was compelled to wage secondary battles against ever-increasing government power.
We have much to learn from this humble servant of God.
Thursday, December 18
2:30 PM To my Issues and Methods students: I have just finished grading your papers. Outstanding work! Two of you even produced a score of 110, which is fantastic. As soon as I have recorded your grades you are welcome to stop by my office and pick up your papers (no earlier than 10:00 am tomorrow). My warmest thanks to all of you for your diligence this semester. Meanwhile I'm working on the syllabus for Intermediate Greek II next spring. So far 1 Timothy seems to be the number one preference for our book study. I'm still open to your recommendations, however. Please email me soon if you want your input to count!
11:00 AM If you only read one column today, read this one on how patriotism has trumped biblicalism in America. Let's not forget: there is a huge difference between patriotism and nationalism!
8:00 AM Don't waste your money on Gibson's Passion. If you want to see a real Christian movie, try this one. Writes Greg Koukl:
This film tells the truth about man. That's why I think it's Christian. What we see is what Francis Schaeffer called the nobility of man and the cruelty of man. Man has intrinsic nobility in a way no other creature has because he bears the imprint of God upon his soul. Another way of putting it is that his soul is fashioned, in some significant sense, after the very nature of God. Yet though he has intrinsic dignity and nobility, at the same time he has extrinsic cruelty. He is fallen, twisted, broken. Both things are true about man.
7:45 AM New find, old tomb, and peeks at early Christians.
7:30 AM We are now informed that Gibson's Passion is "a journey into inexpressible reality." To believe that, you have to believe that Jesus was crucified in a loin cloth (rather than naked); that Pilate spoke church Latin (the church had yet to be born); that Jesus carried the entire cross (not just the "patibulum" or cross beam, as history tells us); and that the nails went through His hands (not His wrists, as archeology has shown). Why all this fawning over a movie that resembles Christian art more than reality? Again I cite Gary North's comments about make-believe authenticity:
Gibson wants the audience to make its judgments by seeing what happened. But we know what happened only because of words—words so respected that careful copies were preserved by monks and scholars. We have no visual images of those events. This is why St. Paul wrote, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). He did not say, “seeing is believing.” He said, “hearing is believing.”
The actors will pretend to recite words in the original languages in accents that would not be recognized by the original participants. This is make-believe authenticity.The crucial visual event will be faked by Gibson anyway. It has to be. We cannot bear to see the truth. Jesus was naked on the cross. The Roman soldiers gambled for possession of His robe. “And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots” (Matthew 27:35). The mortification of nakedness was part of the passion of Jesus.
To this is added the usual flowing hair, which was not popular in the days of the early Caesars. Jesus will look like an actor—a real stand-out in a crowd. But Jesus was nondescript. “Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by” (John 8:59). The Jewish leaders did not part with thirty pieces of silver so that Judas could identify a man who looked like a Hollywood actor.
Movies are illusions. They are entertainment. This one may be better than the rest of the bunch, but if it relies exclusively on visual images to its message, then it will fail. Words, not images, are central to Christianity.
6:45 AM I have always been fascinated by the theology of the Swiss Reformer Ulrich Zwingli. I once spent a week in Switzerland studying his life, traveling from his birthplace to the battlefield on which he died. This morning on my front page I linked an essay by Tom Ascol on the famous Marburg Debate between the Lutherans and Zwinglians over the Lord's Supper. On October 4, 1529, the leaders in the debate composed The Articles of Marburg. The fifteenth article defines the ground common to both parties, including their rejection of the sacrifice of the Mass. It then proceeds to identify the point of difference in the fact that no agreement had been reached on the question of whether the true body and blood of Christ are corporeally present in the bread and wine (Nit vergleicht haben wir uns, ob der war leib und plut Christi leiblich im brot und wein sey). Nevertheless, the adherents of each doctrine are recommended to display Christian charity to those of the other. Tom Ascol (a fellow Baptist) expresses my sentiments on this long-standing debate nicely:
[W]e are Baptist by conviction. And our convictions are informed by the Word of God.... The foundations of our faith, including the distinctive elements of that faith, are always worth examining and clarifying. Our paedobaptist brothers and sisters with whom we disagree need to know why we believe what we do. And those who disagree with us need to be challenged to reexamine the Word of God to see if their beliefs are properly grounded. Obviously, we cannot both be right.Truth is worth disagreeing over. It is worth maintaining ecclesiastical separation. On that, both Baptists and paedobaptists agree. It is to be hoped that we can also agree, in our pursuit of the truth, with Zwingli's prayer which he prayed upon entering the conference at Marburg:Fill us, O Lord and Father of us all, we beseech Thee, with thy gentle Spirit, and dispel on both sides all the clouds of misunderstanding and passion. Make an end to the strife of blind fury. Arise, O Christ, Thou Sun of righteousness, and shine upon us. Alas! while we contend, we only too often forget to strive after holiness which Thou requirest from us all. Guard us against abusing our powers, and enable us to employ them with all earnest for the promotion of holiness.
Below: Beautiful Marburg an der Lahn:
6:30 AM Carmon Friedrich has linked to two essays on Evanjellycalism, including this one by that prolific author Anonymous. Ladies, if you aren't reading Carmon's weblog, you are really missing something.
Wednesday, December 17
1:30 PM My favorite political cartoonist, Clay Bennett, does it again. Man is this guy good!
1:00 PM Despite the elaborate fawning taking place today in Kill Devil Hills we really don't believe in the Wright Brothers after all.
The pioneers we celebrate today would be thrilled at the extent to which flight has transformed the world. But they would also be shocked at the extent to which our culture has abandoned the values and attitudes that made their feats possible. Where Americans once embraced progress and admired the innovators who brought it, today we want the benefits of progress without its costs or risks, and we condemn the profit motive that drives innovation.The symbol of flight in America today is no longer the Wright brothers, but Icarus. Where once we venerated the bold exploration of new frontiers, we now condone bureaucrats putting shackles on anyone who seeks to test the untried -- to soar too high or succeed too well.
12:30 PM Go Texans!
9:00 AM You must read Pieter Friedrich's blog today if you think Saddam is the worst murderer who ever lived. Among the points he makes is that Joseph Stalin killed over 62 million people, yet we were allies with him during WW II! To read more, click the blog button below:
8:30 AM It's now clearer than ever that Iraq is only the first step in the forced democratization of the Middle East and that the Syrians are next. Of course, most Americans aren't even faintly interested in the real history of our involvement in Iraq and why war was so unnecessary. When Saddam used chemical weapons against the Kurds in 1988, as well as against the Iranian forces during the same period, Reagan and his vice-president, George Bush Sr., maintained a conspicuous silence. And a Saddam trial will only reveal more details that could well backfire on the Bush administration. In my forthcoming book Why I Stopped Listening to Rush: Confessions of a Recovering Neocon, I begin chapter 7 ("Give Some People an Inch and They'll Think They're a Ruler") with these words:
Few things in current politics make me more frustrated or angry than seeing the statist “bait and switch” argument used by Washington politicians to justify our recent war with Iraq. The Bush administration, following its new “National Security Strategy” asserting that the U.S. will maintain global hegemony permanently, had led us into an unnecessary war that has cost the lives of thousands of Iraqis and many hundreds of Americans. No weapons of mass destruction (WMD) have been found; no “imminent” threat to American security has been proved; acts of terrorism have increased; the ranks of al Qaeda have swollen; and the U.S. has become involved in a Vietnam-like quagmire from which it will take years to extract itself and which will almost certainly lead to a fiscal train wreck. The neoconservative elite in Washington tell us the U.S. is only “protecting” its own interests. What is being protected is U.S. power carried out unilaterally by America, reiterating the maxim of the Greek historian Thucydides that “large nations do what they wish, while small nations accept what they must.”
Commentator Chuck Baldwin has wondered aloud whether America is the revived Holy Roman Empire. Sometimes I wonder the same thing. How much longer can the neocon spinmeisters get away with redefining the American vision? When will we be able to have a genuine debate in this country on the singular issue facing Americans today: the question of whether these United States will remain a republic as envisioned by our Founders or will degenerate into a global empire? The anger of the populace is not far below the surface, and it will take more than the chest-thumping of the bellocrats to squelch the thunder.
8:00 AM I am working on grading student papers today. Thoroughly enjoying it, I might add! Intermediate Greek students: Your papers are done and may be picked up in my office. Issues and Methods students: It looks like you'll have to wait until Monday. I've had several potential students from out of state make appointments with me, and I also have to give a Ph.D. oral, so it will take me longer than expected. Meanwhile, please be careful out there. The black ice is treacherous!
Tuesday, December 16
8:15 AM Read the latest from the Mises Institute on the fundamentals of the falling dollar. Meanwhile, federal spending has increased a whopping 25 percent under Bush. But that's OK. Man, he's a conservative, God-fearing Republican!
7:45 AM No al Qaeda connection? No WMD? No Niger uranium? No sarin gas? No problem. After all, we caught the monster. Of course, we helped to create him. Michael Moore notes:
We created a lot of monsters – the Shah of Iran, Somoza of Nicaragua, Pinochet of Chile – and then we expressed ignorance or shock when they ran amok and massacred people. We liked Saddam because he was willing to fight the Ayatollah. So we made sure that he got billions of dollars to purchase weapons. Weapons of mass destruction. That's right, he had them. We should know – we gave them to him!
Incredibly, BP reports that Hussein's capture means that the Iraqi people are free to endorse American-style "democracy." Good grief! We are a republic, not a democracy! Tragically, what we ARE exporting abroad is a corrupt, anti-God, non-Christian culture (see David Brownlow's comments below). Doesn't anyone THINK?
Meanwhile, Saddam cheers fade into Iraqi ire while in Baghdad the slaughter goes on. At least we're not doing the "Mission Accomplished" strut and needlessly endangering more American lives. Maybe the president's learning something after all.
Monday, December 15
2:00 PM I have been praying for the church in Iraq today. According to sources I've read, there are about 700,000 Christians in Iraq. Most are Chaldean, an eastern rite church that is in communion with the Roman Catholic Church. A smaller number of Assyrian Christians are not in communion with Rome. Many of these are nominal, to be sure. There are also much smaller numbers of Syrian Orthodox and a few Presbyterians. Baptists, too, have organized in Iraq. Right: A baptism at the First Baptist Church of Baghdad.
1:15 PM This is a beautiful story of redemption. My hat's off to Chuck and Rhonda Kelley of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, my sister school.
12:30 PM Mark Harrington just wrote me and asked if I'd post his latest on Saddam and the Constitution. I'm glad to do it, Mark. Mark is one of the few ethicists I know who are speaking out in this day of compromise and cowardice. While you're at it, go here and scroll down on Mark's site to hear a sickening narrative of a partial birth abortion in process. If this doesn't make you cry out for God's mercy on our land, nothing will!
10:30 AM AlterNet's Christopher Sheer puts it better than I ever could:
As far as I can tell, catching Saddam is not going to fix Iraq's economy, build a functioning democracy, prevent a Sunni-Shiite civil war, or bring back the Americans and Iraqis who have died and will continue to die at the checkpoints, home invasions and while driving their Humvees down the nation's roads. Humiliating Hussein with public dental examinations will hopefully reassure some Iraqis that peace is on the way, but while it would be nice if his old cronies who may be involved in the insurgency would lay down their arms, I wouldn't hold my breath.
Kenneth Pollack, the scholar who wrote, "The Threatening Storm: The Case For Invading Iraq," said on CNN Sunday that after a stay in Iraq, his impression was that the number one fear of the populace is not guerrilla violence but street crime. The so-called Iraqi Governing Council is now a joke, with a BBC/Oxford poll showing the public has nearly zero faith in its effectiveness. Unemployment is over 50 percent. Nearly half of the first class of the new Iraqi army quit just days ahead of being deployed. Billions of dollars of American taxpayer money is being funneled almost directly to a tiny handful of military contractors and construction companies like Bechtel and Halliburton.
8:30 AM Dr. John Broadus, former Professor of New Testament at my sister institution, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is always a worthy read. Here he writes on the real meaning of Christmas: Jesus As Savior. A snippet:
It is well to reflect upon and seek to realize the awful truth that we deserve to die, to suffer eternal damnation. Suppose we should reflect upon it, each for himself. "I have sinned against God-I know I have." Excuse and extenuate as I may, I know I am a sinner. I deserve to suffer the penalty-to be consigned forever to the damnation of hell. I do not fully know what that will be; but remorse itself will be terrible-remorse, etc. And then positive punishment-something as bad as an undying worm, and quenchless fire. And I cannot cease to sin-and if I could, what shall make amends for my past sin? Ah yes, my friends, we all deserve to perish-but Jesus! he died to save us from perdition. Let us flee to him.
7:30 AM Next semester I will be teaching the second part of intermediate Greek, which will involve the detailed exegesis of a New Testament book. If you are planning on taking this course, please feel free to send me an email and suggest a book you'd like to study. I will be happy to consider it.
7:00 AM You must read this essay by Steven Yates on the future of the Internet and those who are eager to control it ( to make it more "efficient," of course, like the Post Office or our government schools). It used to take several years before a few hundred people (at most!) would read an essay I published, say, in Novum Testamentum or New Testament Studies. Now, with daveblackonline, hundreds of people read my columns daily (I have had up to 6,000 hits on a single day). Despite the dangers of the Internet (which Yates is clearly aware of), it remains the most effective tool in existence for the dissemination of opinion and information. My only question is why more evangelicals aren't using it as an evangelistic or apologetics tool.
For what it's worth, I have provided some tips on setting up your own website here.
Saturday, December 13
8:30 AM I'm off to our commencement service here at Southeastern. I am so grateful for each and every one of my students. I especially wish all of our graduating seniors a fruitful ministry in whatever place of service God calls them. My desire for you is that of Paul (Phil 2:1-4):
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
8:15 AM Received this very kind email today in response to my essay on church leadership in Philippians 1:1:
As you may or may not be aware, the fellowship of the Churches of Christ/Christian churches have been practicing this very form of polity for some 200 years. I am sorry to say that some of our congregations are beginning to move towards the more general evangelical view of "clergy-laity" by advertising for a "Senior Pastor" (vs. the more traditional "sr. minister").I've been "harping" on it and will use your article (from a prestigious Greek scholar with his political head on straight to boot!!) to further my insistence that we keep to the biblical standard and not give way to the spirit of the age.
Thanks for all you do for the Kingdom and our country.
Thursday, December 11
9:45 AM The latest from Clay Bennett:
8:45 AM Seems everyone's jumping on the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) bandwagon these days. PC thing to do if you're a "conservative," I guess. This is same-old same-old thinking, folks. Lest we forget, federal judges routinely defy the U.S. Constitution, so why do you think they’d follow a federal amendment? And doesn't anyone want to talk about theTenth Amendment anymore? Good grief, our Founders banned federal intervention into states matters. Or at least they thought they did.
Perhaps it's time we acknowledged how badly they failed. Let's all take a deep breath and say it out loud. Ready? The Constitution is a dead letter in America today. Our good politicians and Washington think-tank pundits pay as much attention to the Constitution as they do to their junk email hawking Viagra and Oxycotin. (Sorry, poor example.) By the way, did you notice how Bush's statements in support of the FMA are a far cry from what his running mate, Dick Cheney, said in the 2000 campaign? Cheney told a national television audience that the question of same-sex relationships should be left to the states, and that there should be no federal policy on the matter. Now the White House is asking us to file Cheney’s remarks under the heading of "well, never mind."
To those who argue that the federal amendment route is an Open Sesame for societal reform, President Franklin Roosevelt gave this classic response:
[There are] those who honestly believe the amendment process is the best and who would be willing to support a reasonable amendment if they could agree on one. To them I say: we cannot rely on an amendment as the immediate or only answer to our present difficulties. When the time comes for action, you will find that many of those who pretend to support you will sabotage any constructive amendment which is proposed. . . . Even if an amendment were passed, and even if in the years to come it were to be ratified, its meaning would depend upon the kind of justices who would be sitting on the Supreme Court bench. An amendment, like the rest of the Constitution, is what the justices say it is rather than what its framers or you might hope it is.
Wednesday, December 10
1:45 PM Just saw this piece on Medal of Honor recipients on December 7, 1941, at the SFTT website and thought you'd be interested in it. That day had many "what ifs." For example, we know the Japanese were detected by a mobile radar station at Kahuku Point on Oahu's north shore 52 minutes before the attack began. The inexperienced operators reported the finding to headquarters. The young officer in charge mistook the formation as a flight of U.S. planes due from the West Coast. He told the operators to ignore the data. Many people also do not realize that the windward side of the island, where I was raised, saw action at both Kaneohe and Bellows Field. Growing up I remember often climbing to the top of the pillboxes still in the area, including the one at Lanikai Point, which offers a superb 360 degree view of windward Oahu. Below is a photo of Lanikai with Flat Island in the foreground and Kaneohe (where our aircraft were attacked on Dec. 7) in the background. For you surfers out there, we had a reef break, a shore break, an island break, and a point break--all within 5 miles of Kailua Beach. Not too shabby, dude!
1:00 PM A word to my students: I will be grading your papers and exams for the next several days. I always look forward to reading what you've worked so hard to produce. Already the topics have sparked my interest: Paul's Use of the Old Testament in Romans, The Essence of Elders, Exodus 1:15-22 and Its Implications for Norman Geisler's Ethic of Absolutes, Homosexuality and Scripture, and these are just for starters! I hope to have everything read and your final grades calculated by next Thursday, so plan to check back with me then. I'll see you graduates on Saturday!!!
10:20 AM The Department of Social(ism) Services is hard at work, on your children's behalf, of course. This is scary, folks. The article appeared in the Digital Courier.
10:00 AM David Brownlow—who is running for Congress in Oregon on the Constitution Party ticket—takes a swipe at third party politics. Actually, he says, there are only two parties, with the creation of the Republicrat Party. David is spot on, whether the issue is the UN, gun control, aborticide, etc. He's a regular at News With Views and always a worthy read. Conservative Oregonians, be sure to take a close look at his platform!
8:00 AM Ted Lang documents the irony of calling for a draft when we don't even take care of our vets:
As we now look to honor our veterans and dead from past wars on this Veterans' Day, why should more Americans be made to give up their lives and limbs for a Congress that disgraces US, its oath of office, and the very Constitution our veterans fought and died for by advancing un-American socialism? And this while at the same time disgracefully turning their backs on injured service personnel now awaiting adequate medical care and attention from the current, on-going war. And many are long overdue proper medical attention right here in the United States! Some injured and sick military personnel languish in filthy and totally unsafe quarters.
7:30 AM News With Views has just published an excellent essay on judicial tyranny in America. I hope you will read the entire article. One quote deserves mention here:
Judges without the constitutional authority to do so, think nothing of over-ruling the legislatures of the States, or the Congress--or even the Constitution of the United States--as they modify the constitutional precepts of liberty to fit the utopian ideals of social justice where that which is protected are not the inherent rights of all men but the selective rights of select minorities at the expense of the majority.
Tuesday, December 9
2:00 PM This essay about the U.S. Constitution is Chuck Baldwin at his best. Sorta reminds me of Jay Leno's quip:
As you may have heard, the U.S. is putting together a constitution for Iraq. Why don't we just give them ours? Think about it—it was written by very smart people, it's served us well for over two hundred years, and besides, we're not using it anymore.
Friends, the conditions in our society and their causes are not something an external enemy did to us! We did it to ourselves via submission to a totalitarian-leaning Leviathan. As a result, America hardly resembles a republic anymore. In fact, our media often refer to the United States as a democracy. Thomas Jefferson said that a democracy (Latin for mob rule) was the worst form of government on earth and that we should avoid a democratic form of government like the plague. A republic is what our Founders gave us, not a democracy. Because they felt that human nature could not be trusted where political power was concerned, they produced a Constitution with a system of strict checks and balances. Government was to be laic, libertarian, and limited. These ideas are seen not only in the Constitution but also in our most notable quasi-official documents such as the Declaration of Independence and Washington's Farewell Address.
If you haven't read our founding documents in a while, please go to my reading room and to the section titled "Freedom Documents." Better yet, order Chuck's collection of these works, available at his website.
9:00 AM If you haven't seen Codex Vaticanus in our seminary library yet (no, not the real thing), it's now on display. It is a truly incredible reproduction. Perhaps my favorite page (from a curiosity point of view) is the one pictured below. The column, which is found at the beginning of Hebrews, reads, "Stupid idiot! Can't you leave the old reading alone and not change it!" (my translation). Love it!
To my Greek students: Here's a good review of Bauer's Lexicon (3d English edition), which many of you have.
Monday, December 8
9:00 AM All three Northeast Piedmont Chorale concerts this weekend were great fun and well attended. A tip of the kepi to my colleagues, Dr. John Boozer and Dr. John Davis, for doing a great job of conducting, and to Mrs. Pat Boozer for her fantastic organ and piano accompaniment.
Saturday, December 6
2:00 PM Gibson's new Passion website is online. Among the questionable statements it makes is this one:
All the characters in the film are heard speaking the languages they would actually have spoken at the time. This means Aramaic for the Jewish characters, including Christ and his disciples, and "street Latin" for the Romans. Greek, which was commonly spoken among the intellectuals of the period was not quite as relevant to the story.
Street Latin with an ecclesiastical pronunciation, to be sure. And sorry, Greek was not spoken only by "intellectuals." It was the language of common and cultured people alike and almost certainly the language spoken in the Jesus-Pilate dialogue. But does anyone care?
1:30 PM My, my. Evangelicals have made the front page of U.S. News and World Report. So much for uncompromised catacomb Christianity.
10:45 AM After the president's whiz bang visit to Baghdad, we're more optimistic than ever that our nation building will succeed. David Brownlow notes some of the jewels of democracywe will be exporting to Iraq:
- Tyrannical courts that answer to no one.
- A Congress that refuses to obey the law.
- Legalized child killing up until the moment of birth. (Abortion is illegal in Iraq today!)
- A multi-trillion dollar debt.
- Elaborate income redistribution schemes.
- Oppressive federal regulation of industry.
- An EPA that will ban oil drilling to protect a desert snail.
- A monetary system based on counterfeit currency.
- A militant, heavily- armed federal police force.
- Private property rights in a shambles.
- Schools that preach humanism.
- Pornography spewing out of every telephone jack in the country.
- Violence and smut pumped through the airwaves 24 hours a day.
- Federal protection of sodomy and other deviant behaviors.
- Banishment of all religious displays and speech from the public square.
- Lying criminals infested throughout every level of government.
Little wonder the Iraqis can hardly wait for "democracy."
10:30 AM As our WW II vets dwindle, some of us will pause tomorrow to remember the "surprise" attack on Pearl Harbor. Was December 7, 1941, a day of infamy or a day of lies? Born and raised on the island of Oahu, I have always been fascinated with this question. If you haven't read Robert Stinnett's Day of Deceit, you should. It has even received praise from John Toland, author of Infamy (the book I cut my eye teeth on):
Step by step, Stinnett goes through the prelude to war, using new documents to reveal the terrible secrets that have never before been disclosed to the public. It is disturbing that eleven presidents, including those I admired, kept the truth from the public until Stinnett's Freedom of Information Act requests finally persuaded the Navy to release the evidence.
For an outstanding series of photos, go here.
10:00 AM Tonight's the night! Thursday's rehearsal went very well. I counted 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, 1 tuba, as well as percussion and organ. They sounded great! The weather is clear and crisp, perfect for an evening enjoying great sacred music. So do plan on joining us for our concert at 7:00. Remember: the concert is free!
9:30 AM Received this constructive criticism in response to one of my recent essays:
Dear Mr. Black,I've been reading a number of your excellent articles on your web site today. I enjoyed your article entitled "It’s Nobody’s Fault But Our Own", and agreed with it except at the very end, where you made a couple of glaring mistakes:"Our Founding Fathers were only 56 men out of a population of almost ten million."Actually, the US population at the time of the first Census in 1790 was 3,929,214 - not 10 million. That's a significant difference. (I still agree with the point of the paragraph, however.)"If we have changed from a national form of government in which “We the People” were the sovereigns and the government employers were public servants to a federal form of government in which the government employees are the bosses and “We the People” are the slaves, it’s nobody’s fault but our own!"Actually, the problem is that we changed from a "Federal" system - where the people and the States held the bulk of the power, and the Federal government was simply their agent vested with a very few specifically delegated powers - to a centralized "National" government - where Washington holds all the power and lets the States exercise some under their guidance and control; you stated it backwards.You should have also pointed out that this conversion was a long, slow process at first, and began even before the Revolutionary generation had died out. The process was galvanized by the betrayal of the Constitution under Lincoln, who crushed the States (and not just those of the South), establishing the complete dominance of Washington over them. It continued to pick up steam from that point on, fueled by the successful takeover of education by the state, which allowed the pro-statists in charge to drum their message of "the state is God" into the minds of generations of Americans.Please pardon my criticisms, and keep up the good work. God bless you.
Thursday, December 4
2:30 PM Had a good chuckle when I read Andrew Ferguson's attempt to defend Bush in his essay "That Man in the White House" appearing in the Weekly Standard. Taking on "Bush-bashing" seems a little silly to me when at the end of his essay one of the magazine's sponsors is listed as Lies of George W. Bush by David Corn!
2:00 PM The church is a family, indeed, a family of families. I was reminded of this fact while preaching the past two weeks at churches that have no children's church or youth groups. (Parents do the teaching--what a novel idea!) How refreshing to have families worshipping together as the gathered people of God! For some great thoughts on integrated meetings, take a look at the essays at the Trinity Baptist Church website. You'll be challenged to rethink the way you do church! As Jeremy Walker notes:
The constant presumption of Scripture is that children were present in the worship of the people of God. In Nehemiah's time, men and women and all those who could hear with understanding gathered to hear Ezra the scribe read the Law (Neh 8.1-3; Ezr 10.1). Moses certainly anticipated the literal 'children' of Israel to be present when the Law was read (Dt 31.12-13). Paul's letters, intended to be read to the churches, assume the intelligent presence of children (Eph 6.1-4; Col 3.20), and children were present when the Lord Jesus taught (Mt 18.1-5; 19.13-15).
John and Noel Piper agree. For their perspective, and for thoughtful answers to such questions as "But what can children get out of corporate worship?", go here.
7:00 AM The Great Ice Storm of 2002 began exactly one year ago today. We were without power at the Black Shack for two weeks! And they're calling for light snow and possible sleet in Wake Forest tonight.
Speaking of the winter storm season, Thomas Kinkade has a painting I've always appreciated. He named it "Conquering the Storms."
6:45 AM Only three more days to go until our sacred music concert here at the seminary. Tonight is our dress rehearsal. Our choir (the Northeast Piedmont Chorale) will combine with the Southeastern Seminary Choir for this event. If you haven't made plans for this Saturday, please join us at 7:00 pm for a program that includes the majestic celebration of John Rutter's Gloria featuring full chorus, brass octet, timpani, and organ to the festive refrains of familiar carols and other seasonal fare. For a preview, you can listen to the opening strains of Gloriahere. Gloria in excelsis Deo!
Wednesday, December 3
1:30 PM Just had a great hermeneutics class with special guest lecturer, Dr. Michael Travers, author of the recently published Encountering God in the Psalms. His distinction between the Bible as literature and the literature of the Bible is important, I believe, and will do much to help our students become more sensitive to the literary artistry in the books of the Old and New Testaments. As always, a brief lecture raises more questions than it can possibly answer, but my hat's off to my esteemed colleague for such a stimulating and engaging lecture.
Meanwhile, new tools for the study of Greek are appearing all the time. One of the latest employs a new approach to learning the vocabulary of the New Testament based on Louw and Nida's concept of semantic domains. Read Ed Curtis's review of Mastering New Testament Greek Through Semantic Domains.
8:00 AM I'm in the mood for a contest today. On my beginning Greek exams I offer students an extra credit sentence in which they can earn up to 10 points by translating an English sentence into Greek. If they manage to do this, plus get 100 percent on their exam, they earn the prestigious "110 Award" (usually one of my books). At least one student always manages to accomplish this feat, without using any helps whatsoever. The latest exam (graded last night) was no exception. The English sentence was "You (s.) have sinned against God because you are an evil tax collector." This translates into 10 Greek words. If you have studied some Greek and would like to try your hand at translating this sentence (remember, no helps), have at it! You may send in your answer using transliterated Greek if you like. The first person with the correct translation will receive a copy of my intermediate grammar, It's Still Greek to Me, gratis!
"Saddam Hussein killed the jihad (holy war) inside us," said Qasim Mohammed, a young man in a red bedouin scarf standing in the street in Samarra on Monday. "But we have to thank [George] Bush and [Tony] Blair for bringing the spirit of the jihad back to our youth."Eighty-year-old Khalaf Mohammed, his hands and feet still caked in blood from shrapnel wounds, vowed revenge from his hospital bed on Monday: "Take me from my bed and I'll fight," he said.Even Samarra's US-appointed police chief, Ismail Mahmoud Mohammed, told the Financial Times that US forces had gone too far in "provoking" the town, and said they should stay out from now on. "Were the French happy under the Nazis?" he asked. "It is the same thing here."
On February 27, I wrote:
Until now, Bush has tried to convince the American public that the Iraqi people are not the enemy, only Saddam Hussein. But how will Iraqi citizens feel when they are confronted by an American military government running their own country? I imagine they will feel like a conquered, subjugated, people.
Alas, such is the price of hubris.
Tuesday, December 2
8:30 PM Can anyone give me some good tips on sugar substitutes (for cooking, coffee sweetening, etc.)? We are very interested in anything except saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame-K, and sucralose! Your recommendations will be most appreciated.
5:30 PM Say what? The words are Rummy's:
Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know.
5:00 PM Sorry for this lengthy screed, but it's obvious to me that freedom from oppressive government regulation is a thing of the past in America. The opportunity to compete in a free and open society is fast disappearing, and the "progressives" are doing all they can to hasten the complete demise of republicanism. Radical socialism has become the name of the game, and it will take a supreme effort by all to reverse the damage that decades of socialism have done to the families of our nation. The "Great Society" explains why the public tends to support government growth. In contemporary America, the state has become a god, a super problem-solver, a Leviathan, and if you don't support government solutions to our problems you must be opposed to that problem being solved.This is an utter absurdity, but try telling that to Republicans!
Are you or aren't you? A neocon, that is. Take Gary North's neocon litmus test here and find out.
Ted Lang is in exceptionally good form in his latest squib in the Patriotist. As Ted says, "Kinda Cool"!
Doesn’t anyone in America recognize communism when it jumps left out of the slimy gutter and splatters right on your chest? And what “two party system?” Republicans have now forever lost their braggin’ rights to criticize big government socialists and squanderers like FDR and LBJ! Kamerad und Reichkanzler Herr George [W]ehrmacht Bush, Unser Führer, vill protect alle kinder in Hiss care! This Congress of Criminals outrage was Hiss doing. Yet another illegal law propped up by his neoconservative, national socialist, imperialistic cabal, running at about 1100 pages of “law” to bring about Frederic Bastiat’s worst nightmares of legalized plunder! It is doubtful the Congress of Criminals’ “honorable” members bothered or had time to read it, similarly to the ramming-through of the USA Patriot Act. Stroke of the pen—law of the land. Kinda Cool!
11:00 AM Just back from seeing the surgeon who removed a portion of my arthritic collar bone two months ago. (Man, just saying that makes me feel old!) It appears I now suffer from a rotator cuff injury of some sort that has kept me pretty inactive for several weeks (caint even ride ma hosses!). He says to try P.T. and some anti-inflammatory medication. Oh well, some days I feel like I'm aging as fast as Tony Blair.
At long last, the Constitution Party now has a Triangle Area Party affiliate. I'll be curious to see who they run for local offices.
With Christmas upon us, it would be well to remember that Christ alone is the truth.
Monday, December 1
8:30 AM Somebody ought to write a book on how to do church the right way (i.e., the biblicalway). Come to think of it, somebody already has. Steve Atkerson of the New Testament Restoration Foundation kindly sent me a copy of his latest book, titled Ekklesia. No, I don't agree with everything in this tome (it downplays the role of teaching elders), but much of what it says would help our churches become more Christ-honoring and biblical in every way. One example: Observing a weekly communal meal as did the early church. Thanks, Steve, for the gift! I hope you enjoy my book on adolescence in return.
Check out this essay on our ever-expanding national girth. Guess which religious group tops the list of gluttons?
God knows... or does He?
Here's what you get for owning a Bible in China.