Jul 102013
 
If you "like" the God of the Old Testament and you claim that all Truth in the bible is Absolute...then you should have no problem with the Taliban executing women and children with stones today. If stoning was "right" and "righteous" in one culture and context in history...then it must be an Absolute Truth or your truth has changed...and that opens Pandora's Box that the bible's truth is Relative/Subjective depending on time period and culture.

If you “like” the God of the Old Testament and you claim that all Truth in the bible is Absolute…then you should have no problem with the Taliban executing women and children with stones today. If stoning was “right” and “righteous” in one culture and context in history…then it must be an Absolute Truth or your truth has changed…and that opens Pandora’s Box that the bible’s truth is Relative/Subjective depending on time period and culture.

I don’t like the God of the Old Testament…the God who exacts vengeance, wrath and destroys his enemies.

I take a lot of heat for that from some of my Christian* friends who seem to have some sort of cognitive dissonance when it comes to this particular issue.

If the God of the Old Testament is to be exalted and worshipped and emulated….why do most Evangelicals and Americans despise the Taliban? The Taliban is simply kicking it old school and keeping it real…Old Testament style.

Here’s what the Old Testament God either commanded, or when pressed Christians* will hedge and claim “allowed, but it’s not ideal! It’s not what God really wants, but he allowed it to be OK for a time” (OK, then maybe God is allowing homosexuality to be OK now? Ruh roh, they don’t like that logic when applied to a taboo issue they don’t like):

Deuteronomy 21: 10 When you go to war against your enemies and the Lord your God delivers them into your hands and you take captives, 11 if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. 12 Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails 13 and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. 14 If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes. You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her.

So, basically, the Definition of Marriage from the Old Testament God included you (as specially Chosen) to be able to force a woman from a People you conquered and make her your sex slave, against her will. If you have sex with her and you don’t like her, the God of the Old Testament offers a money-back-guarantee trial period. If the sex isn’t to your liking or maybe she smells funny or whatever, you can give her back, but since you “dishonored” her you can’t sell her or keep her, you have to let her go. Lucky her!

Here’s another command from the Old Testament God that the Taliban loves and practices to this day (the Taliban are far better worshippers of the OT God than Christian* Fundamentalists, just sayin’):

Deuteronomy 21: 18 If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 20 They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” 21 Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.

Execute your unruly and rebellious children with stones. Make sure everyone hears of this and is very afraid. Hmmm, Taliban are still doing that today, yet they’re somehow “evil” and “unrighteous”…why? They’re just keepin’ it real…real Old Testament Fundamentalist God.

Again, most Christians* today will explain these uncomfortable facts away as “Well, that was then this is now! The Old Testament stuff doesn’t count!” and in the next breath claim that Truth never changes, God doesn’t change, he’s the same yesterday, today and forever. OK, well then he sure isn’t “good”…like you would assert the Taliban isn’t good…if that’s God.

The fact is, Christians* despise the Taliban, they call them evil and God-haters etc. for living in the same manner the God of the Old Testament commanded or “permitted” or endorsed etc. in the Old Testament. Ask yourself honestly, do you think it was EVER right or righteous to force women to be your sex slave or to execute children with stones?

If your answer is “no”…then your Absolute Truth opinion is that you don’t like the God of the Old Testament either.

If you answered “no”…you are a Selective Fundamentalist…and you have simply been ignoring the realities of the different versions of “God” presented in the many texts which make up the bible and you have allowed others to persuade you around very uncomfortable facts that have led to a huge amount of cognitive dissonance and denial in your world view and thought process.

Absolute Truth is something that is true for all ages, all peoples and in all contexts. As such, forcing women to be your sex slave and executing children with stones is either universally and Absolutely “right” or it is universally and Absolutely “wrong”. If you “like” the God of the Old Testament…truly….then you are endorsing the fact that at one time in human history God said those terrible things were “right” and “righteous” even if he “permitted” them through his prophets and leaders etc. If you then claim that it was “right” then, but “wrong” now….then you have presented an Argument that Truth changes…and is Relative and Subjective based on the particular time period, culture etc.

Think about that folks. Let it sink in. You are much more Liberal (in Theological terms) than you realize. The Taliban? Those are the real Absolutists and Fundamentalists.

Addendum:

I love the discussions and push-back, especially from my friend Michael Newnham at PhoenixPreacher.com. It helps me articulate the Position in a better way and brings more truth to the surface for all to consider:

Michael responded to my article here:

“Far more intellectual and still intellectually honest people than any of us have long discussed these things and still believe in the Word of God.

I am not an intellectual, but I try to be honest…and those passages don’t trouble me in the light of what God was doing in history though Israel.
If you reject the OT, you must reject the NT as well if you’re “intellectually honest”. The NT is honeycombed with OT references and Jesus affirmed it’s veracity over and over.
So…either Jesus and the writers of the NT were in error or we have to look for other explanations for difficult passages in the OT.”

My response is as follows:

“Michael, I don’t “reject” it at all, I acknowledge the ugliness of the OT, whereas some others try to apologize for it and claim the bible texts as “inerrant, infallible” etc and Absolute…when the text of the OT presents (self-evident) that Truth changes as you would not view the commands/permissions to execute with stones and to make women sex slaves as “righteous” in any context.

If the bible in the OT “permits” execution with stones and sex slaves, then why doesn’t it permit the offenses it is commanding to be punished? Clearly b/c the OT views the offense of “unruly” as punishable by death, while asserting that punishment by death with stones is right and righteous (or at least at one time in history).

This relegates the truth of the bible as Relative/Subjective and forces us to rely on something other than the literal text as an Absolute…which means we need to filter everything through our Conscience and Reason and what we believe to be “Good” and “Righteous” and what we believe is truly God.

Our Founding Fathers said, “We hold these TRUTHS to be self-evident, all men are created equal”….well women sex slaves were not equal in the Old Testament God construct…something “changed”…the text in the Old Testament is not an Absolute.

The Truth is self-evident as our Enlightened Founding Fathers asserted. There are some Universal Truths that contradict the command and practice of some of the texts of the bible.”

 Posted by at 9:28 am
Jul 072013
 
Jesus issues a "new Law"...the Law of Love. Even Paul the Apostle establishes "Love" as the top of the Hierarchy of God's attributes.

Jesus issues a “new Law”…the Law of Love. Even Paul the Apostle establishes “Love” as the top of the Hierarchy of God’s attributes.

Who is God? What are his attributes? Is he Good? Is he Merciful? Is he Love? Is he Wrath? Is he Vengeance? Is he Justice? Is he Holy? Is he Righteous? Is he Forgiving? Is he truly Sovereign?

“Yes!” says my Calvinist buddy Michael Newnham at PhoenixPreacher.com. “There is an unbiblical reductionism at play when we reduce all the attributes of God to ‘love’. He is also ‘holy’, ‘just’, ‘righteous’ and a host of other things in perfection. None of His attributes trumps another…they are all in perfect balance.”

Among the “other attributes” are Wrath, Vengeance and Judgment…pretty unpleasant stuff that is antithetical to Love and Mercy and Unilateral Forgiveness.

Here’s my beef with Michael’s assertion above…and it’s a common position I’ve heard repeated throughout my years in Christian-land:

If one holds to a Presuppositionalist “the bible says it, I believe it, that settles it” framework…then there’s a problem with Michael’s take above. Where in the bible does it state, “None of His attributes trumps another…they are all in perfect balance”? That is an extra-biblical conclusion and demonstrates a true belief that we reason our way through the text and come up with our own conclusions based on what we think the spirit of the text is saying…because it doesn’t explicitly state what Michael says.

In fact, the bible (or rather the conglomeration of sacred texts amalgamated and chosen as biblical canon by Councils from centuries past…with some Groups having a different bible than others…and many Groups disagreeing with particular translations…KJV-only for example) presents a Hierarchy of attributes and prescribes a Hierarchy for us humans in the New Testament.

Another guy I deeply like and respect, Pastor Alan Hawkins of New Life City church in Albuquerque New Mexico (he’s a very intelligent Charismatic…the two don’t usually go together) offered this comment:

“Universalism is one of those things that would have been overtly taught in the scriptures if it were true. It is a doctrine that makes most of the scripture incoherent and makes the lives of the apostles irrational. The doctrine if true makes Paul a raving lunatic. Remember the old LORD LIAR LUNATIC schematic about Jesus? Well universalism makes Paul look like guy who could stop lots of suffering and persecution just by appealing to people to chill a little. “Wait guys, you don’t understand, all I am saying is that Jesus is going to accomplish your salvation without any help or even visible response on your part.”

The fact is, Paul the Apostle (supposedly the author of the Pauline Epistles) pretty much establishes “Love” as the top tier in the Hierarchy of attributes here:

1 Corinthians 13: 1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

“But the greatest of these is LOVE”…clearly a Hierarchy in play if one takes the text as literal and applies a simple and “plain meaning” read of it.

Jesus Christ himself affirms this Hierarchy when he is pressed about the Law:

Matthew 22: 34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

“Which is the greatest commandment”? Jesus says, “Love”…clear simple “plain meaning” reading is a Hierarchy of attributes.

Mark 12: 28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him.33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

“Love”…”There is no commandment greater than these”….

John 13: 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

“A new command I give you”….”Love”….

And here’s the clincher…just read it in a simple and “plain meaning” manner…what is Jesus, the Son of God, God’s utterance (Logos) supposedly telling us here? Jesus has turned the “Old Testament” on its ear…he’s written a “new” Law…the Law of Love…

Matthew 5: 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for an eye, and tooth for tooth’…” and “But I tell you, LOVE your enemies…Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect”.

Love your enemies, do good to those who hurt you, turn the other cheek, etc. Jesus’s commandment tells us to Unilaterally Forgive and to “Love” even our “enemies”…and that is being “perfect” as “your heavenly Father is perfect”. A “holy” and “perfect” God who we are to emulate by Unilaterally Forgiving our enemies…just like he does.

This Narrative completely contradicts a God who exacts “Vengeance” on his enemies, a God who Judges and casts into eternal damnation and commits Wrath on his “enemies”. We are commanded to Love, to Unilaterally Forgive and to extend Mercy to those who are our “enemies”…is God himself held to a lower Standard? Clearly no…

The fact is the bible, as we commonly define it, presents competing Narratives and competing versions of ‘God’.

The God of the Old Testament Jews and the God of Revelation is a “conquering Warrior” who exacts Vengeance, exacts Wrath and destroys his enemies.

The God of Jesus in the New Testament Gospels presents a “new” Law, the Law of Love and commands us to be perfect, like our heavenly Father…and to extend Love, Mercy and Forgiveness to our enemies and not to exact Wrath and Vengeance, but to Unilaterally Forgive.

The God of the Calvinist picks and chooses winners and losers…with the vast majority of humanity throughout history never having the opportunity to hear the “correct Gospel” or the “correct Jesus” and therefore suffering in hell for eternity for being “enemies of God”. Completely antithetical to the Jesus Narrative of Love and Unilateral Forgiveness in much of  the New Testament.

Many of the Arminians embrace a similar construct, but rather than having God pick and choose winners and losers, they put the burden on the individual and claim that you are solely responsible for your fate and if you don’t do a list of things they prescribe, you’re hell-fodder as well…but it’s not God’s fault…it’s your fault…even though the vast majority of humans throughout history cannot have known this magic formula as most of humanity who has died and who lives today has not heard the Gospel and is not aware of the list of rules and does not even know who the “correct Jesus” is, according to the narrow definitions and rule sheets of the Arminians.

I tend to agree with the Calvinist who places God well above his creation, unlike the Arminian who seems to grant god-like power to mankind in their ability to trump God and force him to be reactive, pending their final decision of their own fate (based on a set of nebulous and often changing rules and beliefs). I think if God is real, he is pre-eminent to mankind, his creation…but, unlike the Calvinist, I have a more optimistic view of God as truly “Good” and truly Merciful, Loving, Unilaterally Forgiving and all the Standards that Jesus commands us to be in the New Testament.

If we are to “be perfect” as our heavenly Father is perfect….and the list Jesus presents is “perfection”…then Love is the “new Law” and God is Love and Love is his over-arching attribute…and Love Wins.

Jesus commands us to Love, Forgive, extend Mercy…without precondition. I believe God will redeem his creation and will do likewise, even toward his “enemies”…as he commands us.

Caveat: There are competing Narratives in the bible, no doubt. God is presented as “Vengeance is mine!” and “Wrath” and “Justice” and eye for an eye etc. The God of the Old Testament and Revelation is presented much differently than the God Jesus presents in much of the Gospels. The bible has many competing Narratives regarding “salvation” (which we’ll explore in the near future) and much of the bible is wrought with paradox and competing themes. It’s why we have 9,000 (James White’s number) to 30,000 denominations and Mainlines under the Christian* umbrella.

The bible is not infallible and without contradiction. It is a text that has been filtered through fallible errant man. It may be inspired by the Holy Spirit, but God used men to put the ink on the pages and as such, there is much that is lost in translation and there is much that was undone by the words of Jesus who changed everything.

Another Caveat: I’ve made an appeal to the text, Presuppositionalists say the text is exclusively authoritative, but they are Selective when it comes to such as they invoke concepts and words like the “Trinity” that do not appear in the text, rather they rely on hints in the text, competing statements in the text and use their Reason to create an extra-biblical term to explain something that is outside a “simple” and “plain meaning” of the words on the page. This is normal. Selective Fundamentalists do it all the time, yet claim the text as “Absolute!” and “Perfect!” and non-contradictory. The text is what it is. It is paradoxical and demands we rely on the Holy Spirit and our Conscience to reason our way through the maze and “feel”. When the text is approached as a science book or math formula, it fails miserably…as I and many others have applied that filter and the equation simply doesn’t add up, no matter who’s hermeneutic (interpretive model) you apply. The bible is more art than it is science. Intellectual honesty can go a long way in overcoming the obstacle of making the bible God, rather than relying on God to be God and to speak to you personally through his Spirit, with the text as a catalyst for provoking thought.

I appeal to the text because I think it contains truth (which is different than the Absolute and idol many have made it in Presuppositional-land). I listen to my pastor because I think he expresses truth, but I don’t think every word he states is perfect and infallible and without error or contradiction etc. I tend to view the transcribed, translated words of Jesus (who is God’s Son incarnate) as having more weight than the rest of the authors of the bible. When Jesus issues a “new Law”…I take his authority seriously. Paul may have been inspired, but he was still a sinful and imperfect man and as such he is capable of expressing an opinion to the churches at that time that were not meant to be an Absolute.

Love is as tenable a Position as any other in the bible and above the jot and tittle of the bible as God. One can find reasons to fight for Law, Justice, Wrath, Vengeance and Judgment (hell)….but the Spirit of the Gospel message speaks against it.

If God is truly “Good”….he will redeem “all” of this mess in the end. I am increasingly convinced of that. The Gospel really is “Good News”…whether you realize it or not. Love is “the” leading attribute of a “Good” God. Amen?

 Posted by at 12:22 pm
Jun 292013
 
Former Calvary Chapel Castle Rock franchisee Moses pastor Brian Abeyta opens up Beauty For Ashes church right up the road from the CC he allegedly left in a big financial hole.

Former Calvary Chapel Castle Rock franchisee Moses pastor Brian Abeyta opens up Beauty For Ashes Fellowship right up the road from the CC he allegedly left in a big financial hole.

Pastor Brian Abeyta is back! He’s open for business and selling his story of Beauty For Ashes Fellowship just up the road from the Calvary Chapel Castle Rock franchise he built after 17 years in the biz.

I’m working up a more in-depth story on this one…it’s been on the radar for quite awhile…and I’m sending questions to Abeyta in an attempt to get his side of the story.

The news of this one broke on the local news website ourcoloradonews.com.

Here’s a link to the article that reports Abeyta ran his Calvary Chapel franchise with “no board” and that he spent “$200,000″ on “personal” things during “2011 alone”. The allegations go well beyond what is reported in this article. Really over-the-line stuff. Easy to do in the Calvary Chapel System where Chuck Smith’s toxic Moses Model’s fruit is often malfeasance, abuse and corruption.

What’s of particular interest to me is that Calvary Chapel seems ready to air the dirty laundry…now that Abeyta is a competitor just up the road. Where was this new-found transparency when Abeyta was in the mafia….err, I mean Calvary Chapel? Calvary Chapel was well aware of the allegations against Abeyta, many times over, while he was still Moses at the Castle Rock franchise.

Link to the article here: http://www.ourcoloradonews.com/lonetree/news/leader-of-new-church-has-questionable-history/article_0b7745f8-e034-11e2-9a81-001a4bcf887a.html

 Posted by at 9:38 am
Jun 272013
 
The bible presents several "definitions of marriage"...which is the correct one? Appeals to "Cultural Context" only support a position that says it's not a Moral Absolute.

The bible presents several “definitions of marriage”…which is the correct one? Appeals to “Cultural Context” only support a position that says it’s not a Moral Absolute.

Moral Absolute: “Gay Marriage is AGAINST the Law of God! Homosexuals, even if they are monogamous and in a committed relationship are “hated” by God! Gay Marriage is against God’s will!” scream the Christian Absolutists / Literalists / Conservative / Fundamentalists.

Interesting take, in light of the Old Testament and in light of what the universally accepted definition of “Absolute” is.

Absolute Truth defined: “Truth is considered to be universal if it is valid in all times and places in all contexts. A Truth that satisfies these conditions is known as an Absolute.”

What do you make of these verses in the bible?

2 Samuel 5:13 And David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron, and more sons and daughters were born to David.

“Concubines” and Polygamy. Concubines are “mistresses”…basically women who were lower than a wife, who David had as sort of sex slaves and he fathered children with them.

Is having “mistresses” a Moral Absolute? Apparently not. Neither is Polygamy…either that or the bible is errant, fallible and Relative as it tells us that for David’s “Cultural Context” he was righteous and right to own women as sex slaves and to have multiple wives.

Leviticus 25:44-46 As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are around you. You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their clans that are with you, who have been born in your land, and they may be your property. You may bequeath them to your sons after you to inherit as a possession forever. You may make slaves of them, but over your brothers the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another ruthlessly.

Why were the American Slave Owners of the South “in sin” and against God? Is “slavery” wrong and a Moral Absolute? Were the Hebrews/Israelites unrighteous and wrong for making people slaves and making them “their property”? Christian Fundamentalists will appeal, once again, to “Cultural Context” in explaining away this supposed “truth” in the bible.

“Gays can’t marry! The bible says so! The bible defines marriage!”

Not really. The Culture defines marriage, the Culture defines morality, justice, etc based on Consensus Principle…the same Consensus Principle utilized to choose the Canon of the bible, same Consensus Principle to pick and choose “Christian orthodoxy” etc.

“Marriage” defined in the bible was at one time much different than today’s Conservative definition of marriage. It is not a Moral Absolute as is self-evident in the bible. If it were a Moral Absolute, “Marriage” would be consistently defined and exampled as an Absolute per the definition of Absolute Truth above. The example of several different definitions of “Marriage” in the bible disproves the thesis of Moral Absolutists who claim such…unless you toss out the entire Old Testament from your Canon of Scripture.

So, which “Marriage” is the Absolute definition in the bible? The one where we can have multiple wives and mistresses and sex slaves of the Old Testament…or the monogamous heterosexual non-divorcee “Marriage” (though Paul the Apostle speaks against marriage) of the New Testament?

You can dismiss the Old Testament Definition of Marriage by appealing to “Cultural Context”…but that has very interesting Philosophical implications about Truth in the bible…

I would assert that there are very few Moral Absolutes we can be sure of, due to the teaching and example of the Old Testament…if one appeals to the bible as “the Authority” for all Truth. Again, an Absolute, by definition, must be True in all contexts, all cultures, for all of time. Clearly in the Old Testament: Executing children and women with stones (like the Taliban) was right and righteous and even commanded. Having multiple wives and mistresses and sex slaves was right and righteous and commanded as well. Slavery? It was okey dokey. Killing unarmed men? Check. Samuel hacked King Agag to pieces with a sword (Agag was unarmed, living peacefully in captivity) “in the sight of God” and it was called righteous. You can appeal to “Cultural Context” and “that was then, this is now!” to explain away these uncomfortable facts…but that only supports my Position more.

I believe the Enlightenment was from God…and as such I believe we “see” Truth today more clearly than we did before. God is not the bible. If God is truly Love, if God is truly Good, if God is truly Merciful…if God is truly the God of Jesus in the Gospels…if God is truly the author of Truth and the devil is truly the “father of lies!” then we must follow Truth wherever it leads.

Was it ever “right” and “righteous” to execute women and children with stones? Was it ever “right” and “righteous” to make other human beings your property and to make women sex slaves and mistresses? Was it ever “right” and “righteous” to execute an unarmed man who was in captivity and not posing a threat? So many other examples…

I agree with the Conservative Christian argument and appeal to “Cultural Context!” to dismiss the Old Testament Levitical Law. I agree that God, as presented by men, is “not” the “same yesterday, today and forever” if the bible is the sole Authority as taken literally. God is much different in the Gospels than he is anywhere else in the bible.

I agree with the Conservative Christians that “Cultural Context” is an Authority and that Context and Consensus play key roles in determining what is Morally Right and Wrong in a particular Culture…which is in stark contrast to a Moral Absolutist position that seeks to pick-and-choose only one of the several “Definitions of Marriage” presented by the bible.

“Gay Marriage” may very well be a-ok with the real God. As we discover more about homosexuality and the fact that many are born with the predisposition for attraction to the same sex, as we discover that it is their “natural” desire…the way they are wired…we are forced to reconsider our position…much like we reconsidered Slavery, Concubines and Executing Women and Children with stones.

“Committed Loving Relationships” seems to be the Moral Absolute today. I would rather see a loving gay relationship, than an abusive heterosexual one…the former is much less a threat to Society than the latter.

Is homosexuality a sin?

I think it depends on the “Context”…just as Conservatives appeal to “Context” to explain away so many “simple” and “plain meanings” in the bible that present contradictions and very ugly things.

If you are born wired a heterosexual…and you go down the path of sexual deviancy, pornography, promiscuity to the point that you have to push the envelope to get off…and that leads you into homosexuality or bi-sexuality…then I think it is “sin” for you. If you are born or rather wired with the desire for the same sex, then that is “natural” for you.

The bible seems to assert that “going against nature” or “going against what is natural” is the sin, yet the bible further defines promiscuity (in the New Testament) as sin, even though promiscuity is the “natural” default position for the male of the human species. The Old Testament recognizes the promiscuity of man and gives license for Concubines (sex slaves) and multiple wives…yet the New Testament forbids it. Both the Old and New Testament seem to speak against “homosexuality” yet the New Testament seems to present it in a plausible Context of “temple prostitutes” and homosexuality as promiscuity. Further, it is also very possible that Progressive Revelation and the Relative Nature of truth exampled in the bible on so many issues teaches us that “truth” changes and that today, as we discover more about homosexuality, it is not the Moral Absolute that Conservatives tout today.

At minimum, I think the issue of homosexuality is over-played and over-emphasized by Fundamentalists.

“God hates FAGS!” reads a Westboro Baptist Sign (kudos to them for keeping it real, like the Taliban and exampling in real-time the dangers of true Fundamentalism).

Well, turns out God “hates” pretty much everything if you take a browse through the bible.

God hates “liars”, God hates the “prideful”, God hates “unequal scales”, God hates “a false witness”, God hates “hands that shed innocent blood”, God hates “discord”, God hates “sin”…which is pretty much catches all of us in the net, if you take a Westboro Baptist/Taliban hermeneutic (interpretative model).

In fact, Sodom is often trotted out as “PROOF!” that God hates the gays. What was Sodom’s “great sin”?

Ezekiel 16:49 Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.

Wow, God must hate gluttons, the selfish, those who don’t help the poor and needy, the arrogant etc.

I’m sure God hates me and he hates you as much as any “fags”…but you get a different emphasis and a different vibe in Christian Fundamentalism. You’d think that God is somehow more concerned about the Gays than any other Group of sinners.

Government “Marriage” vs. Religious “Marriage”

We are not a Theocracy. The United States was born out of the Enlightenment, and like it or not, our “Founding Fathers” were largely Deists and Liberal Christians, not nearly the Conservative Fundamentalists who try to claim them today.

As a politically Libertarian leaning individual, I recognize the difference between Church and State.

Our Liberal Christian Founding Fathers were well aware of the dangers of a Theocracy and the necessity of providing checks and balances in our System to prevent one Group from dominating the System and forcing their particular brand of morality or political agenda on the rest.

As such, there is Government/Civil/Legal “Marriage” and there is a particular Religious Group’s “Marriage”.

In the Government Context, we are bound to do our best to provide Equal Protection Under the Law and not discriminate against a particular Group that views Morality in a different manner (with caveat, it isn’t perfect, there are many philosophical implications that defining marriage presents, like the rights of Polygamists, etc). Consensus weeds out and picks-and-chooses what is “OK” and what isn’t. Our System, while imperfect, is working. The DOMA controversy, like it or not, is defining “Marriage” for our Culture our Context. It does open doors for the Polygamists to present their argument…and ironically Polygamists have an Ally in the Old Testament…but I’m confident the System will probably hold the line on that issue as the Consensus seems to be against multiple partners engaging in a Marriage Contract.

From a Religious Perspective, the First Amendment protects the rights of a particular “church” to disagree “morally” and to hold their own definition of “Marriage” as long as it doesn’t incite violence or discriminate (from a Civil Legal perspective) the rights of the fellow Citizen.

“Majority Rules”, however, is not entirely the case…as our System provides checks and balances for the Minority Position measured against the Constitution. Think about Dearborn, Michigan and the influx and increasing dominance of Muslims there. Sharia Law may become the “Majority” take in that area…but it cannot be tolerated and must be resisted in light of the Bill of Rights in our Constitution. Sharia Law goes against US Western Law and as such an appeal to “Majority” in that area is nulled by our Constitution.

Similarly, a Majority Opinion with regards to the “Definition of Marriage” is not necessarily the last word on the issue…we must measure the issue against the Constitution.

A final appeal

The World is changing rapidly. “Democracy” is only as good as the people behind it. Iraq, Egypt, Libya…all glaring examples that “Democracy!” can sometimes just be a tool to promote barbarism like Sharia Law and extremism. If you bring “Democracy!” to a bunch of Fundamentalist Muslims…you’ll just create a much more powerful Fundamentalist Muslim State to have to battle against in the future.

In America, we are not a Theocracy. We are deeply diverse and divided on Religious, Ethnic, Political and Philosophical lines. We do have “enemies” and we do have Ideologies that we must oppose, or it’s Game Over.

The Gay Marriage issue is not one of those critical issues.

God is NOT “judging America!” because Gays are marrying. The “Bible Belt” is also Tornado Alley, Estonia (Atheist Nation) is the least likely place (statistically) on the planet to have a natural disaster. God doesn’t “hate” “Fags”…that’s the Christian Taliban’s spin on the contradictory and paradoxical nature of the bible. Jesus Loves homosexuals, Jesus loves me, he loves you. Jesus is the God of Unilateral Forgiveness and the God of Mercy and the God of Love.

If you disagree with Gay Marriage, no problem, you have that Constitutionally protected right to speak against it as what you believe is a Moral Issue, but please don’t make a Moral Absolute about the bible’s definition of “Marriage” when the bible defines “Marriage” much differently in the Old Testament.

Rather than beat the Anti-Gay Marriage drum with such fervor and effort and with such loud voices…let’s beat the Jesus Loves You! drum with the same effort and enthusiasm.

Jesus of the Gospels does in fact Love you, he loves me and he loves our homosexual brothers and sisters.

 Posted by at 12:55 pm
Jun 252013
 
Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and co-founder of the Calvary Chapel movement. His daughter is reporting his lung cancer has moved from Stage 3 to Stage 4.

Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and co-founder of the Calvary Chapel movement. His daughter is reporting his lung cancer has moved from Stage 3 to Stage 4.

A Facebook update and now the Christian Post is reporting that Chuck Smith, the co-founder of the Calvary Chapel movement / denomination and pivotal player in the Jesus People revival…has had a set-back in his battle against lung cancer.

From the Facebook update:

“Update on my dad: Prayer warriors, it is time to put on your armor and fight in the spiritual arena. Dad’s doctors just upgraded his lung cancer from Stage 3 to Stage 4, due to the fluid in his lung. This fluid contains cancer cells. He just had the fluid removed for the second time. He will enter the hospital on July 1st to have more fluid removed (which will take two days) and a CAT scan to see if his lung is expanding. If his lung does not expand, he will have to have a catheter installed in the lung area to help him to empty the fluid at home. If his lung does expand, they will put talc into his lung to keep the fluid from forming. The talc procedure is simpler and preferable for various reasons. Please ask the Lord for His perfect plan for Dad to be accomplished. We trust our Heavenly Father to know best. Thank you eternally for praying.”

The Christian Post reports on the Chuck Smith Cancer Watch here: http://www.christianpost.com/news/pastor-chuck-smith-suffers-setback-in-battle-with-lung-cancer-98610/

Before I launch into a massive philosophical point for consideration, I wish Chuck Sr. the best and my prayer is not so much that he’s healed…the dude is pushing 90…he’s gotta die of something….my prayer is that he passes peacefully and without pain and that his family has a little more time with him and that their grief over his passing, while painful, will be mitigated by their mutual love for each other and remembrance of the good things about their pops.

I will give a prophetic word: Chuck Smith Sr. is going to die.

I grew up a Calvary Chapel Pastor’s Kid (CCPK). I’ve observed the teaching, rhetoric and actions of many in leadership my entire life. Some of the most disappointing moments have been as a result of observing the head-honcho/Guru/Prophet Chuck Smith himself.

Over the years, Smith’s poor leadership has led to a rather pervasive belief (both articulated and exampled) of a dangerous Doctrine: The Doctrine of Divine Retribution.

I’ve been told my Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa insiders and many others inside the CC Bubble (former and current) that Smith believes God has zapped/nuked/punished even killed some folks who have “touched God’s anointed” and opposed, what Smith believes, is “the work of the Lord!” in the form of Smith’s Calvary Chapel ministry.

There are a couple of anecdotal examples, almost lore, of a couple of people dying not terribly long after challenging Smith. When you’re a magnet like Smith and Calvary Chapel and when you are dealing with literally millions of people in a 2,000 church non-denomination denomination, odds are there will be a ton of people who give you some perceived trouble and odds are, a few of them are going to die at some time proximate to your perceived slight.

Well, as is Smith’s and Calvary Chapel’s tendency, they “see” what they want to see and ignore the rest. They read the headlines with an ever-changing and rather selective prophetic eye with a penchant to embrace what fits their narrative and ignore the vast amount of information that contradicts it. Similarly, Smith and Calvary Chapel latch on to a couple of very rare examples in their history as “proof” that God zapped/nuked/killed an “enemy of God’s work!” who challenged them…and this myth is still quietly embraced to this day.

So much so that this toxic mythology spilled over into Calvary Chapel Land itself…I am told by several sources that it was widely believed in Calvary Chapel circles that Greg Laurie’s son died in the car accident as a punishment from God for Greg moving in on the lucrative Southern California Orange County market with his Harvest franchise. Pretty sickening stuff…but it’s true.

Chuck Smith’s and Calvary Chapel’s Doctrine of Divine Retribution is articulated very soberly by Chuck Smith here in a warning to a Christianity Today reporter here:

During the investigation for this article, Smith cautioned CT’s reporter: “The Lord warns, ‘Don’t touch my anointed. Do my prophet no harm.’ I think that you are trying to do harm to the work of God. I surely wouldn’t want to be in your shoes.”–Chuck Smith, Christianity Today article investigating Calvary Chapel 2007.

Chuck’s message? Mess with “God” (which equals Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel in his deluded mind) and God will get you!

OK, live by the sword, die by the sword. If God is real, I think he has quite a sense of irony.

Chuck Smith lied, misrepresented, mishandled, covered over, went against his conscience, attacked me using his overwhelming advantage as a very powerful and influential public figure, hurt me tremendously…and back-handedly threatened me with God’s judgment from the Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa pulpit here: http://youtu.be/n6ydHm_lwKs

I commented shortly after (on this very blog) that something innately told me that Chuck Smith had just called down judgment on himself.

A month or so later, he was diagnosed with Stage 3 lung cancer. It’s now back with a vengeance.

“Touch not God’s anointed, do my prophet no harm!” says Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel.

Doctrine of Divine Retribution? Ananias and Saphira exampled today? Or, shear coincidence?

I can GUARAN-FRICKIN-TEE you that if I had come down with lung cancer a month after Chuck’s fatwa from the CC Costa Mesa pulpit….Chuck and his cult-followers would have claimed “God GOT him! Praise God!”

It’s a dangerously vindictive, unloving, non-unilateral forgiveness, non-gracious, non-merciful, non-Jesus of the Gospels Doctrine…and it is the Doctrine that Chuck Smith and much of Calvary Chapel examples over the years…which is more a statement of their true belief and doctrine than professions of “Love” over and over in an attempt to PR their way into a softer side.

Don’t buy the Smiley Papa Chuck persona. Underneath the veneer is a man who truly believes he’s a prophet and that God is on “his side” and that God will get you if you challenge his “ministry”…his “ministry” which is his god.

Aspiring Calvary Chapel Pastors out there who read this: Don’t be like Chuck Smith, Raul Ries, Bob Grenier and many others of the bad CC pastors out there who embrace and example this anti-Jesus of the Gospels Doctrine. God is not in the business of “destroying his enemies!” (which oddly seem to be whoever your enemies happen to be, how convenient). If the Law of Love, if Love Your Neighbor, if Unilateral Forgiveness are the “New” Testament…if Jesus Christ of the Gospels is truly God’s Logos (his utterance)…then this Doctrine is Old Testament driven error and more a function of man’s desire to conquer those he considers his enemy while pinning it on God.

Chuck, God truly loves you despite your error. May those you’ve inspired learn more from your mistakes than from your perceived successes.

The right example: I disagree with you, I think you have wronged me and my family terribly and misused your immense power. I forgive you unilaterally and wish you well and I hope God will have mercy on you and give you peace and give your family a bit more time. God, have mercy on Chuck Smith. If you are truly a God of Love, do not judge him, do not enact vengeance upon him. Stay your hand and accept the sacrifice of your own Son, Jesus Christ, as payment for “all” of our sin both past and present and to come. Amen.

 

 Posted by at 6:43 am
Jun 212013
 

no bullshit1. To the Political bullshit: Hello to our friends at the NSA, CIA, DHS, DOJ, FBI, and the Big Brother Alphabet Soup! Good luck with your spying on all of us. I’m sure you wouldn’t abuse your powers to target Constitutionally Protected political opposition and dissent, right? Cough, cough, IRS bullshit, cough, cough. Ron Paul must be a prophet, because his predictions continue to come true, one after another, after another. [Inaudible…] What’s that? No, honey, I think it’s just a large bird. What? You’re kidding me. Give me those binocs….a Drone? Nice. Anyways, as I was saying, praise be to Obama, our Lord and Savior, praise be to the Government of the United States! Nothing to see here, move along now.

If you’re going to use the Machine to smoke out Achmed the Dead Terrorist or maybe the Drug Cartels and the pervasive criminal organizations on our soil, then have at it. If you’re going to (like the IRS) use this broad-reaching Unconstitutional power to intimidate political opposition, then we’re all going to have a big problem.

2. To the Business bullshit: As I’ve stated over and over…and over, the US Economy (and the World Economy for that matter) is singularly dependent on the Federal Reserve and Treasury of the United States. We are addicted to Debt, Deficit, cheap money, Quantitative Easing (QE) and the economic heroine (in many forms) that the FED has been pumping into Markets to prop them up. If the US FED backs away, it’s Game Over. Want to test this theory? Bernanke farts (just hints) that the FED will “taper” their $85 billion dollar a month QE program (QE3 or QE Infinity) and the Stock Markets around the World (including the US) crash hard, along with Commodity prices. We live in an Age of Creditism and Debtism. We’re in a Currency War and it’s getting nasty. You’re seeing the cracks beginning to form as its every Nation for itself. The Eurozone is about to implode (again) with Spain missing a debt payment and Greece still unresolved. Italy is broke, so is Portugal. The only Nation with money in Europe is Germany…and the Germans are tired of being the only responsible working adult in their Family, while the others leach off their hard work. Japan has never recovered from its Stock Market and Real Estate Market Orgy of the 1980’s. It is perpetually trapped in a vicious QE Cycle and they recently threw more gasoline on the fire by trashing the Yen through yet another aggressive round of QE, which pressures the rest of the World in the Currency Wars. China continues to game the System by pegging the Yuan to the US Dollar (which is the defacto World Reserve Currency). China does this to keep their products artificially cheap verses Japan, the US, Europe and other competitors, meanwhile China stockpiles US Dollars and uses those Dollars to buy up Commodities, Land, Real Estate and Companies in the US (very shrewd those Chinese). China also uses the interest payments we (the US) pays them on the $1 Trillion in debt we owe them to fund their entire Military budget. Smart bastards those Chinese. Art of War, a China-man wrote it. Meanwhile Brazil riots as the Currency War is putting massive pressures on Nations like Brazil and other emerging market countries who are forced to have high interest rates in an attempt to stave off “hot money” and Inflation that affects their poor there tremendously and causes societal upheaval and discontent (see the riots and mass demonstrations in evidence).

It’s one big giant fluster-cluck and all thanks to the current US Big Corporation Big Wall Street in bed with Big Government System.

The good news is we will blow the current System up due to our reckless ways…bad news is the next World Crisis will make 2008 look like a stroll in the park. The Current System will eventually implode, there will be a time of world-wide Economic Crisis and the “solution” will be a New System. It will take the form of a World Body (World Central Bank) made up of representatives of Member Nations that will administer and regulate a new World Reserve Currency to replace the US Dollar as the WRC and this Body will set interest rates, vote on monetary policy etc in an attempt to solve the imbalances in the Current System. Nations will still have their national currencies but there will be a Supra-national Currency to transact global trade and the new “bancor” or whatever they’ll call it, will be the Currency by which other national currencies are measured against. This Supra-national Currency will be backed by a basket of Member Nation national currencies, Gold, Oil and some other Commodities. This World Central Bank will wield great power and the US will lose its position as the defacto World Central Bank.

Mark it down…it’s nearly inevitable.

A last comment: Our FED and Government is singularly concerned with saving Wall Street and the Big Corporations and Big Banks. If you think they care a lick about the Middle Class and Small Biz in this Nation, can I sell you an investment opportunity in Nigeria? The “poor” get food stamps, all sorts of government programs, free healthcare etc. The “rich” are richer than ever thanks to the bailouts, QE, and ZIRP (Zero percent Interest Rate Policy) of the FED. The Middle Class continues to get decimated and are left to go it alone. Rich and Poor get massive government socialism and assistance. It’s “free market” rugged individualism for the Middle Class and I’m personally sick of being the only Group that gets hosed.

3. Religious bullshit: Selective Fundamentalists have gone viral! They’re everywhere! It’s like the Walking Dead, only with bibles. Nearly the entire Evangelical Landscape is comprised of this Group and the irony is many consider themselves Fundamentalists and shun Christian Liberalism, but they don’t understand the contradiction and duplicity and shallow roots of their own Belief Systems and the positions they promote from their own mouths. If ignorance is bliss, then the vast majority of Evangelicalism is Nirvana.

If you claim a modern-day “Conservative” and “Fundamentalist” approach to the bible…your history goes all the way back to the 1910’s with the release of “the Fundamentals” and was more organized and formalized in the 1920’s within a broad range of US protestant churches. Sounds like a pretty recent phenomena to me. Fundamentalists can’t really claim a lengthy history and some sort of original authentic Tradition and Belief System. What they did was come up with their own Emphases and their own ideas and pet-doctrines and pet-foundational truths using their Reason and Conscience and picking and choosing their way through the very paradoxical and often contradictory/dualistic bible or scripture that all Groups under the “Christian” umbrella appeal to in creating their particular flavor of Christian*.

The historical fact remains: The Early Church was a loosely bound Group immediately following the death and resurrection of Jesus. These “churches” were geographically separated, not doctrinally separated like today. Very quickly the “church” splintered and the geographically separated “churches” began to take on particular emphases depending on the leadership’s direction and personal convictions. Early Church gurus, heavily influenced by Greek Philosophical discipline that preceded them, began to reason their way through the difficult issues in the sacred texts (there wasn’t an official “bible” as of yet, not like today, no Genesis through Revelation NKJV, etc). One guru would launch a particular thesis and others would hash it out and either agree, disagree and cry “heretic!” or partially agree and then add to the philosophical Christian soup. Dudes like Marcion (probably the first Liberal, LOL) made waves by using his common sense to reason that the God of the Old Testament seemed far different than the God of the New Testament. Marcion noticed the Bi-Polar nature of the two Gods and how the narratives in the Gospel accounts of God and Jesus simply didn’t align with the harsh, judgmental and vindictive God of the Hebrews in the Old Testament. This pissed some folks off and other gurus of the day fired back and called Marcion a “heretic!” which became a very effective strategy in squashing dissent and alternative viewpoints. The Old-Church gurus continued their salvos regarding the Big Issues and began defining Christian Orthodoxy through politicking, argument, rhetoric and eventually achieving Consensus on particular issues. Those who were on board with the majority were orthodox, those who weren’t on board with the majority were heterodox and “heretics!”. Enter Constantine, the Roman Emperor who happened to be an early Christian. Constantine finds himself in a civil war with Maxentius, a rival Roman Emperor, and is severely outnumbered. Constantine gets a revelation from God that inspires his army to bear the Christian cross. Basically, Constantine prayed for God to help him, a meteor flashed in the sky and landed near his area and while he stared at what must have been a dramatic and inexplicable supernatural encounter, Constantine believed God told him to use the sign of the Cross and to conquer. Constantine’s army painted crosses on their shields believing they had a sign from God and then they went and slaughtered the much larger enemy. Constantine eventually becomes the head-honcho and last Emperor standing after more civil war. In 313 AD, he then enacts Religious Tolerance throughout the Roman Empire, effectively ending the persecution against Christians. Constantine then embarks on a campaign to unite the Christian Church and to make all the factions sit down and play nice and arrive at Consensus on a number of issues that continued to be argued during that day. He called the first Church Council in Nicea in 325 AD and during that Council the process of Biblical Canonization officially began, as well as the process of defining Christian Orthodoxy through Consensus and, conversely, defining who was a heretic etc. It wasn’t until the Council at Carthage in 397 AD that the West’s “Bible” Canon was officially decided and it took much of the East another 100 plus years to finalize their Canon in 508 AD. The now-mostly-unified “Church” stumbled along as what we would call the Roman Catholic Church until the East-West Schism which was a process that began in 1053 and was pretty much complete by the 1200’s. Basically, there was a big pissing match between the Church Leaders in the East and West, so they began excommunicating each other and began “sacking” the other side in what looked a lot like two rival gangs battling over turf. The “Church”, now Schism’d, marches on another few hundred years until that asshole Martin Luther sticks his crude neck out and nails the 95 Thesis to the Wittenburg door. Dudes like Luther and Calvin begin to rebel against the Papal “authority” and basically lead a Movement that effectively splinters the “Church” into a zillion pieces. If you are a Protestant, your Granddaddy is Martin Luther. I suggest you read his stuff, it’s rather eye-opening in a lot of areas. It’s like finding out you are from Appalachia after doing Ancestry.com and then studying up on your grandpappy and granpappy’s grandpappy. Yikes! We’re descended from assholes!

The Reformation was the 1776 of Church History. It was World-changing. It was also a violation of a “literal” interpretation of the Sola Scriptura. Romans 13:1 and many other passages speak to “obeying the authority” and that “all authority is placed there by God” etc. The Reformers took a very liberal approach to these very clear verses of Scripture as they were in complete rebellion and violating the Authority God had established (if one takes a literalist view) in the form of the Roman Catholic Church. Of course the Reformers had all sorts of “good reasons” and arguments for why those verses didn’t mean what they said in a literal sense and why they were righteous in their rebellion etc etc. The Reformers faced a paradox and contradiction and they found it in their Conscience and through their Reasoning that they could violate these literal commands, because it made more sense and they understood God and the Scripture in the “correct” manner, whereas the Roman Catholic Church and Pope had it all wrong and therefore weren’t to be obeyed as the Authority. Very liberal and non-literalist approach.

The Unified “Church”, which a literal interpretation of the bible says God promotes and commands “unity”, is no more. The Reformers splintered the church into a zillion pieces and “opened Pandora’s box”…to the level that we have 9,000 (James White’s number) to 30,000 denominations and flavors of Christian* today.

From the time of the Reformation to today, we’ve seen some other big moves…the biggest, IMO, is the Enlightenment, which has had a similar World-changing effect as the Reformation and followed the Reformers by about a century.

This “Age of Reason” was a natural progression of the Reformation as it challenged the Authority and Dogma and Tradition of the day and recognized Conscience, Reason and Spirit as the Standard for Truth as opposed to rote Dogma, Tradition and text on a bible page as God. During this Age, Knowledge exploded like a Supernova and philosophy flourished. Christian Liberalism was born and every branch of Catholicism and Protestantism was influenced and changed during this Age.

The United States was born under the direct impact of the Enlightenment and the Founding Fathers of the United States of America were products of the Enlightenment and many were Liberal Christians and not the retarded Christian Fundamentalists of today who like to claim them.

It strikes me as the peak of irony to hear the very recent Sect of Christianity in the form of Pre-trib Rapture Dispensationalist Fundamentalist/Literalist/Conservative Christians (like Calvary Chapel) claim the Founding Fathers of the United States in CC’s push to influence Politics…yet they don’t seem to know or understand the Enlightenment and the very Liberal Christians and Thinkers our Founding Fathers were.

If you are a Christian Fundamentalist/Literalist/Conservative….what historical Tradition are you appealing to? How do you defend your Literalist approach? What part of the “Church” and Church History are you looking back to and claiming? Why would you look down on the Taliban for stoning women and children today? Seems they’re just looking back to the Old Testament and mimicking what is in your bible. Why do you resist “change” and Reason, while demonstrating a big shift from the Consensus of Church History until 1910 and the birth of your young Movement?

If you are a strict Christian Fundamentalist/Literalist/Conservative, I challenge you to cover your heads if you’re a woman 1 Corinthians 11:6, to follow the jot and tittle of Pastoral Qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, if you are a man…to wear short hair and no hats allowed 1 Corinthians 11:7 and 1 Corinthians 11:14, to keep the Sabbath strictly (Jesus affirmed the Law and Prophets which includes the 10 Commandments), to stop being fat gluttons (bible speaks repeatedly that gluttony is a sin and “self-control” is a Fruit of the Spirit and the opposite of self-control is eating too much), to obey your Master and submit to slavery if you find yourself a slave, to obey all the governing authorities which includes President Obama (Romans 13:1) and to recognize that if you are divorced you are committing adultery (Luke 16:18) and to immediately disqualify all Pastors/Elders/Deacons who are divorced. Oh, and make sure you demonstrate these supernatural manifestations or you aren’t a true believer, according to a literal take of the bible:

Mark 16:17-18 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.

Haven’t miracled anyone yet myself, nor have I handled any poisonous snakes, I guess I don’t got the “signs” of a believer…neither do you. I think I spoke in tongues once, I smashed my finger with a hammer and I was speaking Sailor :lol:

 Posted by at 1:28 pm
Jun 212013
 

Well, that was quick.

The Presbyterians don’t seem to think Child Abuse is that big a deal. The General Assembly sent the watered down Amendment packing, according to PhoenixPreacher.com.

The PCA General Assembly  “…sent a proposed resolution on child abuse back to committee ‘to be worked on in the coming year’”.

Way to go PCA! Not.

God, didn’t your supposed “Son” Jesus Christ say some stuff about how important the kids are? If you are in fact 1. Real and 2. Active in your creation, could you maybe send some fire from heaven to show folks that you love the children and don’t want churches de-emphasizing (which is tacitly endorsing) Child Abuse?

Unfortunately, it seems God is not active in his creation. Seems “God” is more a function of the folks minds and will who claim God….just sayin’.

 Posted by at 10:59 am
Jun 202013
 

Nnnnnnnnneeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwnham (read in Seinfeld voice).

Well, Michael is right a lot, even though he’s got an itchy-mod-trigger finger.

He predicted the PCA would neuter their Child Abuse Amendment, and they did.

Read the final, much slimmer, draft here: http://michaelnewnham.com/?p=12960

It’s still better than nothing, IMO, but probably a C instead of an A like it was in its original form.

Still better than Calvary Chapel’s F or even more accurate Withdraw (as they don’t address the important issue officially).

 Posted by at 10:56 am
Jun 192013
 

Ligon_DuncanLigon Duncan, of the PCA (Presbyterian Church in America), responded to our tweet today questioning whether he’d support the recent PCA Child Abuse Amendment. We were curious if he’d publicly support the proposed measure since Duncan seems to be a staunch supporter of CJ Mahaney of SGM (Sovereign Grace Ministries) during SGM’s Child Abuse lawsuit and allegations that the organization covered up abuse.

T4G (Together for the Gospel), a group spearheaded by gurus including Duncan of PCA, Albert Mohler (Southern Baptist Convention), John Piper, Mark Dever and others has come under fire recently for their seemingly tepid and friendly response to fellow T4G’er CJ Mahaney’s SGM Child Abuse scandal.

Duncan reported via twitter:

“I just voted to receive it. It has been referred to our Overtures Committee.”–Ligon Duncan

The proposed Amendment is encouraging, so is Duncan’s response. We hope it passes and believe that rhetoric and emphasis does move the ball in these organizations. Problems tend to get addressed for the good when they are acknowledged rather than ignored. Churches and church leadership should take the lead on protecting children…and not lag and act like it’s a non-issue.

Kudos to the PCA if this passes. We hope the Calvary Chapel Association will adopt a similar public stand (but hell will probably freeze over before that would happen, George Bryson’s Calvinist witch-hunt, endless End Times prophecy conferences and church planting are far more important issues in Calvary Chapel than the well-being and emphasis on protecting our children who are the “least of these”).

Here is the proposed PCA Child Abuse Amendment as first featured by our friend Michael Newnham on PhoenixPreacher.com:

Personal Resolution on Child Sexual Abuse

Proposed to the 41st General Assembly in Greenville, South Carolina

By TE Mike Sloan, Georgia Foothills Presbytery

WHEREAS our Lord Jesus demonstrated his righteous anger at his disciples, rebuking those who would do anything to prevent covenant children from coming unto him, saying “to such belongs the Kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14); and

WHEREAS the Lord Jesus, who possesses all power and authority in heaven and on earth, taught and demonstrated in his humiliation, that power is rightly exercised to serve others, protect the weak, and speak for the oppressed (Mark 10:42-45Exodus 22:21-24,Deuteronomy 10:17-19Proverbs 31:1-9); and

WHEREAS a silent epidemic of child abuse exists in our culture wherein 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before their eighteenth birthday (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2006), including girls and boys who attend PCA churches, with 95% of victims being violated by someone they know and trust (Darkness2Light.org); and

WHEREAS child sexual abuse thrives in an environment that discourages open communication about the abuse and also thrives with both the calculated sin of abusers and by the inaction of church leaders who are nonetheless complicit in the abuse and culpable before the Lord; and

WHEREAS the law in almost all states mandates pastors, and even in some states volunteers, to report child abuse to civil authorities within 24 hours, and biblical due diligence requires churches to train its workers and volunteers to protect children by screening workers and volunteers, by strictly limiting one adult one child situations, and by maintaining a child protection policy informed by wise resources now widely available; and

WHEREAS the silence of the church, by not speaking out against this sin, or not supporting the courageous victims who disclose abuse, or not proactively taking the steps to prevent abuse, is a fundamental failure of servant leadership in such a time as this, and drives people away from the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and

WHEREAS many of our members have close relational ties with some Reformed and evangelical organizations, fellowships of ministers, and well-known leaders who have lately come under the closest moral and legal scrutiny, some facing criminal and/or civil litigation for neglect in reporting alleged criminal activity against children and harboring and protecting alleged sexual perpetrators against children, casting doubt in the eyes of some on the stance of the PCA toward child sexual abuse and our moral resolve to uproot it; THEREFORE, be it

RESOLVED that we plead with all pastors and church officers to take an active stance toward rooting out child sexual abuse in the church by leading their churches to study, implement, and maintain child protection policies pertaining to our moral and legal obligations in loving our covenant children and protecting their rightful interests as God’s image-bearers and heirs of the Covenant of Grace from the devastating actions of abusers in the church; and be it further

RESOLVED that we pledge our commitment to work and fully cooperate with duly appointed God-ordained government officials in exposing and bringing to justice all probable perpetrators, who morally and criminally harm the children placed in our trust, and not in any perceivable way display reluctance in fully cooperating with lawful authorities by attempting to handle the issue internally by subjecting either the supposed victim or alleged criminal perpetrator to private “church discipline” or relational “restoration” apart from the fulfillment of our mandated reporting duties to God-ordained government authorities; and be it further

RESOLVED that we exhort all pastors and church officers to use their power for the protection of the vulnerable, by any and all godly means, including speaking boldly about the horrors of child sexual abuse in our time, urging anyone with knowledge of these sins to “take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” (Ephesians 5:11), and by supporting victims who are easily intimidated, and often suffer in silence, without the clear support of those in positions of power; and be it finally

RESOLVED that the 41st General Assembly urge all members of the PCA to renew our allegiance to our Lord Jesus to love our covenant children as he loves our covenant children, for to such belongs the Kingdom of God (Mark 10:14).

 Posted by at 12:43 pm
Jun 152013
 
OJ

Bob Grenier gave a long angry rant from the Calvary Chapel Visalia pulpit just prior to the judge’s lower court ruling in which he claims he’s innocent of all the allegations against him and that he’s been vindicated by the local authorities and Calvary Chapel.

It’s been a little while since the lower court judge’s ruling in the Calvary Chapel Bob Grenier lawsuit against me (his step-son and former long-time Calvary Chapel Kool-Aid Drinker) and Tim Taylor (a former CC’ite as well).

The ruling, in my opinion, was rather bizarre. I’ve heard good things about the judge, but I’m pretty sure he’s human and capable of being influenced and/or error. From chewing on the verdict and the evidence presented by both sides in court, I can only assume he latched onto one particular piece of evidence that was intentionally (my opinion) presented out of context by Grenier’s attorney Nick Pritchett.

They published a quote of mine making a comment in essence “do the ends justify the means? Dunno…” and this seems to be the tidbit Vortmann latched onto in claiming he could divine my heart, intent, motive and that I had “serious doubts” about my belief in Paul Grenier’s (my brother) testimony to me where he alleges Bob Grenier molested him.

The truth is that if the judge (or whoever) reads the entire comment (which was not presented by Pritchett) and the thread and the back-and-forth, it is 100% non-debatable fact that the comment was made with regards to my outing the testimony of long-time Calvary Chapel Visalia Elder and Board Member Glen Cardaronella’s testimony. Glen asked me to give the testimony to Chuck Smith Sr. only and did not give me permission to publish the scathing testimony that documented many of the abuses at Calvary Chapel Visalia (according to his take). I published Glen’s testimony and that comment above (that is in evidence) was directly connected to Glen Cardaronella (read the thread, it’s very clear). And, to be crystal clear, I had no “serious doubts” in Cardaronella’s testimony, I believed and still believe him to be a credible source and witness. The comment was in response to push-back that it was wrong to out his testimony publicly without his permission. I felt it served the Greater Good to enter the testimony into the public discussion. The only way that comment could be misapplied, misinterpreted and mis-construed is to take it out as a snip-it (like Pritchett did) and then make a giant leap assumption that it was somehow connected to my belief in Paul Grenier’s testimony to me.

The fact remains that Paul told me about his allegations and I believe him. I don’t have Bob on video doing it, it doesn’t mean I “entertained serious doubts” or whatever nonsense was speculated. I have good reason not to believe Bob Grenier, due to my direct personal experiences of his actions and behaviors toward me and others and his subsequent lying about what he did to me and what I witnessed in our home. I have no reason to disbelieve my brother Paul and I have the right to believe him and the right to speak the truth about it as I know it and to warn others about a public figure in a Position of Trust. It would be wrong of me to stay silent and not speak up with regards to such a serious allegation. I think the ruling was dangerous and irresponsible and a real set-back for the First Amendment and Anti-SLAPP legislation in California. If it’s upheld, it will put a huge chill in the air and set California back quite a ways with regard to protecting free speech and warning the public about public figures who do bad things. It will endanger children and cause Victims of child abuse to fear retaliation by frivolous lawsuits meant to silence and intimidate and re-abuse.

Pritchett may have fooled the lower court judge, I am hopeful the Appellate Court judges won’t be so easy to Lawyer and/or influence. It is well known that Visalia is a small town good ‘ol boys club…has been for years. It’s a tight-knit community and Bob Grenier has paid his dues politically. To claim there is absolutely no dynamic in play there is naive. I don’t claim it’s 100% in play, but to dismiss it as a serious possibility and “some” influence is, again, naive.

Bob Grenier, prior to the ruling, went on quite a screed at one of his morning services at Calvary Chapel Visalia.

I was sent a dvd Bob made, sent to me by a CCV’er. This person wishes to remain anonymous. This person was quite concerned by the tone and content.

I stomached as much as I could. It was disgusting. Bob was angry, vicious, mean, hateful, vindictive…basically all the things he and his Camp and Calvary Chapel have accused me and others of. Bob wasn’t unilaterally forgiving anyone, nor was he “leaving it to the Lord” or extending any sort of grace. He was, metaphorically, spitting fire and madder than a drug addict who is jonesing and can’t find his next fix.

Basically Bob said he’s got a stack of lawsuits ready, he’s going to sue everyone, blah, blah, blah. “What would yyyyoooouuuuu do?” etc etc. He said he’s going to fight and sue and sue some more (in essence) and you could hear a couple of amens in there from the Christians* there.

A particular low-point, Bob was taking pleasure, and even pausing for maximum effect, when dishing the dirt on one of his former employees and whistleblowers…touting how this person fell morally. I could see the venom dripping from Bob’s tongue in my mind’s eye. Here’s a sitting Calvary Chapel Pastor, a man who represents himself as “specially anointed” and an emissary of Jesus Christ…taking pleasure in publicly expressing this non-public non-pastor figures moral turn (largely due to disillusionment in this person’s experience with Bob and Calvary Chapel). I know Bob and Calvary Chapel don’t really believe the Millstone verses in the bible or they would act differently, so I doubt there is a Millstone, but what an evil bastard, no “transformation” there, no “unilateral forgiveness” there….that’s for suckers. You cross Bob and Calvary Chapel and they want blood and money! And, Chuck Smith’s got his back! Woohoo! Praise Jesus*!

Bob’s rant included his version of some things which I don’t necessarily believe. A couple of things I do tend to believe and acknowledge: Detective Brian Haney investigated and didn’t arrest Bob, so I’m assuming the stuff that was reported to him by former CCV employees (before I communicated with Haney) must be OK to do and the practices must be legit, even though I thought they were wrong. I was told by a City of Visalia insider that there was going to be an arrest, but at the last minute something happened. If this is true, I find that interesting.

If you are a church or business you may want to look into what the employees were alleging and do similar to Bob and CCV as the Authority in Bob’s area says he’s good to go, so why not take advantage?

Bob said from the pulpit publicly that Detective Haney told him he could quickly see it was a smear campaign (or something similar to that). Detective Haney, did you say that? Really? You think the former employees were lying and making the stuff up to smear Bob? That the testimonies I gave you were all lies and part of a smear campaign? If what Bob is reporting is accurate, I don’t understand Haney’s conclusion. I thought the stuff reported to me was wrong and the sources were bookkeepers, pastors, elders, board members, employees and family members. But, I have to accept the Authority in Tulare County’s verdict. They looked at the same stuff I looked at and say Bob did nothing wrong. Shocking to me, but it is what it is and I’ll make sure to refer to the specifics of that case if I’m ever held to a different Standard. I’d encourage you to do the same if you find yourself in the cross-hairs there in Tulare County for financial stuff. It’s not as black and white as I thought.

Bob also stated that he’s been investigated in some form by Calvary Chapel (but I thought Chuck Smith Sr. said they are all 100% independent and that Calvary Chapel has no Central Authority and oversight and responsibility and control etc, then who the heck did an investigation? The Church Investigation Fairy? By what authority did they do an investigation and render some sort of judgment if they are all independent? What did they investigate? Who did they talk to? I haven’t been contacted by anyone from Calvary Chapel in that capacity and I haven’t heard that others connected to the Bob CCV situation have either. If they did do some sort of investigation, it was behind closed doors and news to me. I guess I have to take Bob’s word for it (from my interpretation of what I heard on the dvd).

Basically, Bob says he’s good to go per Calvary Chapel and per the Tulare County law enforcement community. Bob basically says everyone’s lying and out to smear him in an attempt to take down his “ministry” and that only God can remove him and no one else will. He says he’s innocent and has done nothing wrong and has been vindicated (or something to that effect) and that he’s going to fight and sue and get his vengeance until the “bitter” end. But I thought…err, um, Chuck Smith Sr. said to…err, um, “get over it”, “leave it to the Lord”, “forgive”, “love” etc. I’m very confused. Seems quite a double-standard. One set of rules for the sheep, another set of rules for the shepherds. No public rebuke by Chuck Smith Sr. from the Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa pulpit telling Bob he is in greater sin for “unforgiveness” and for being bitter and vindictive etc.

I can’t really argue with the results of Haney’s investigation (which I assume is as Bob stated) and I can’t really argue with Calvary Chapel’s continued endorsement of Bob as a Calvary Chapel Pastor in good standing. I tried to call attention to the serious issues and to warn folks and to get the Powers that Be to do something. Apparently they did and found Bob Grenier clean as the wind driven snow (according to him). I disagree, but I’ve done all I can do as a law abiding citizen. We are a nation of laws with rule of law (in general) and while there are gaps in the System, it is what it is and sometimes guys get away with stuff. I’m not happy about it, but that’s life in ‘Merica today.

I still find it quite ironic that when Bob exposed Phil Aguilar for abuse and corruption allegations, Bob got the keys to Visalia. When I expose Bob, he gets the keys to Visalia. Interesting, no? I’m guessing the skills Bob learned while (according to his book) smuggling and dealing drugs while flying the Lt. Governor of Florida around have served him well in his Career as Pastor/Chaplain. I tip my cap to you Bob, you’re good at what you do. Well played sir. You should run for office…but you’d have to take a pay cut.

The appeals process will play out. Bob retained a Fresno attorney, according to sources. They tell me his name is Todd Baxter. Todd, welcome to the dysfunction, hopefully you’re honorable and don’t twist things like Pritchett did (but, hey, as long as the bills get paid right? I mean right?)

I hope we win in Appeals. From what I’ve been told about the Anti-SLAPP laws and the First Amendment laws, I don’t see how a three judge panel will divine that we had serious doubts about our belief in Paul’s testimony and the testimony of the many other bookkeepers, pastors etc at the time we made our comments. I find that such a bizarre and radical position, “shocking” as our attorneys described it to me, but I was wrong about the lower court judge, somehow he was able to see it Camp Bob’s way.

I don’t feel compelled to continually beat the drum with regards to Paul’s allegations as the local authorities and the Church are well-aware of the allegations and I found out toward the end of the lower court proceeding that Paul does in fact have recourse through the Criminal Justice System due to a loophole in California’s sexual abuse laws with regards to statute of limitations. In essence, Paul can still seek justice through that route.

Regardless of what Bob does from here, like Tony Stark said to Loki, there is no version of this where you come out on top. Pay your hired assassin attorneys with that fresh Jesus money. I’m sure the folks who gave the money to Jesus* intended it to fund your lawsuits…not.

 

 Posted by at 2:37 pm