Wednesday, April 25, 2018

2 John 7-11: Case Study or Comprehensive?

Between truth and hospitality, truth is the priority.  Hospitality is essentially unity.  You are welcoming.  Come on in.  Be with us.  Stay with us.  Cooperate with us.  Associate with us.

You can't have love without the truth.  Love is the truth.  Love is walking in the truth toward God and other people.  It is fulfilling God's law toward God and other people.  God couldn't love us if He was contaminated by falsehood or error.  You can't bear someone else's burden before you bear your own.  Before you restore, you consider yourself.  When you consider yourself, you aren't comparing yourself to others, but to the truth.

Since love wasn't happening without the truth, the truth was priority.  That meant you couldn't show acceptance to whom?  As people look at John's example in 2 John, I've noticed that they get very specific at where the lines are drawn.  Is that what John meant for us to do, when we look at all of 2 John and 2 John in the context of Johanine writings?

When you read the first six verses of 2 John, it's about the truth.  We should assume all the truth, especially when we read what Jesus taught John in John 14-17.  Jesus said all His words, commandments, and sayings.  When Jesus said we were sanctified by the truth, was it just the truth about His nature, that He was God come in the flesh?  No.  That's also contradictory to many other passages on separation and unity.

Is it only very specific truths that form a boundary line for the limitations John bring in 2 John 7-11?  Here are those verses:
7  For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. 9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.
John rejoiced that the household to which he wrote was walking in the truth, which was walking in the Lord's commandments.  That was love.  He didn't want that to change because of the influence of teachers they would welcome without limitation.  John wanted limitation.

The world of the apostle John, the Hellenized and Roman world, affected by Babylonian mysticism, denied certain teachings that clashed with its views, positions that contradicted the truth.   Docetism was a unique problem that the elder lady and her children were facing.  John gives this specific example.  Is it a case study or comprehensive?  Is it only docetists or a little broader, people proclaiming a wrong Christology, that would set in motion the actions that John prescribes in 2 John 10-11?  Do churches receive not only and bid not Godspeed only those who are messed up in a very narrow category of false doctrine, or is it those who deny any biblical truth, this one just the one he highlighted as a contemporary concern?

John wanted those children walking in the truth.  Anyone who comes along and tells lies he didn't want to abide.  I'm saying he's giving a specific example of false teaching, not limiting to that.  If we were being limited only to shunning docetism, we have many other New Testament texts that mention many other falsehoods from which to separate.

It's clear false doctrine about Christ should set in motion the shunning of 2 John 10-11.  However, anyone who allows for any error becomes a partaker in that error when he will not separate over it.  The principle works the same.  Read verse 11.  It's axiomatic.  You are a partaker of the false teaching, whatever it is, when it is false, not just false doctrine about Christ.

Almost all evangelicals don't even practice the specific case study of 2 John 7-11, let alone the overall teaching about treatment of doctrinal and practical errors or lies.  Fundamentalists are being very narrow now too about what they might separate over, if anything.  I don't believe that was John's point though. He wanted all the truth protected and the people protected, whom error would harm. 

All lies, all falsehoods harm.  They are contradictory to God, Who is Truth.  John was providing a case study for what to do when lies came along.  Truth trumped hospitality.  When Paul said in 1 Timothy 1:3 to "teach no other doctrine," he wasn't being selective and ranking doctrines.  He said "no other doctrine."  No false doctrine should be allowed in a church.  Specific false doctrine about Christ was merely a case study, not comprehensive, that is, the only doctrine to merit the treatment that John prescribes.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Ann Taylor, Wear the Pants Campaign: The World Gets It, Just Like It Gets Rock Music

I don't know women's clothing brands, but a friend texted this ad.  The world knows what pants mean, just like Dockers in its "Wear the Pants" campaign in 2009.  The only people who deny that pants mean anything are professing Christians.  Pants are the male symbol, just like the skirt or dress is female.

The ad says, pants are power.  Will we hear evangelicals and fundamentalists attacking the ad?  They should, to be consistent.  They should go after these morons at Ann Taylor.   Pants mean nothing.  Unfortunately, evangelicals and fundamentalists can't tell us what anything means anymore.  They've been neutered on the subject of meaning.  They don't wear the pants on what anything means. But that would mean that pants mean something, so I take that back.

About the same time as evangelicals (and now fundamentalists) stopped saying they knew what pants meant, they couldn't tell you what music meant.  All music was amoral.  That they knew.  Only the words mattered.  The world doesn't care that its music is sexy, so the world says it's sexy.   The world doesn't care.

Who is supposed to understand meaning?  Christians.  Not only did Christians in general stop contributing to anything helpful in the world, but they stopped comprehending the meaning of anything, which includes music and dress.  Why should anyone listen to them?  They don't know anything.  They decided pandering was more important, excusing it as an evangelistic tool, which is worse, but worth it to them to perceive relevance.  Whenever a celebrity comes along and hints at something close to the truth, they spasm and seize into a muscle contraction -- second best, a near-to-not-Christian becomes a fourth tier celebrity, the same burning in the bosom experience.

Evangelicals and fundamentalists both know.  They also know that their capitulation is same sex relations and "marriage" today.  They know.  They prefer what they think they have in their churches to representing the truth.  Rather than believe and practice the truth, they reduce it to the least common denominator for fake unity.   Their unity isn't unity and their love isn't love.  They offend the God, the only God, the God of truth, who created the sexes.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Modest & Gender Distinct Swimwear

Not that long ago, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit Jamaica, where we enjoyed the beauty of God's creation and were refreshed in the middle of our long Wisconsin winter. We recognize that there is no basis whatsoever for saying that God's standards of modesty change when one is near a body of water. What resources are available for modest and gender-distinct swimwear?

We were very happy to find some good quality sources for modest and gender-distinct swimwear. A company in Israel, Modli, sells modest swimwear, and we got my wife a four-piece extra-long swimset with full-length tights. They state that their "swimsuit reaches the knee of a very tall woman (over 5' 11''), and will cover the knee of an average woman," and it has tights beneath it that cover the entire leg.  It is modest and stylish, and we are glad we got it.  (The picture below is from the Modli website; it is not my wife wearing the product.)

Our only negative about it was that, while it had free shipping, it took a long time to get to Wisconsin from Israel.  If you are planning an event where you would want something like this, order early. (The company refunded us some of the price because of the shipping delay, so they actually had good customer service with the longer shipping time.)  I recommend this product for people who care about Biblical modesty.

I also got my wife a long black swim skirt with a zipper, as well as full-length tights from a company called Undercover Waterwear.

(Again, the picture is from the website; it is not my wife.)  This product also was very good for swimming in Jamaica. It dried fast, the zipper on the side was useful for certain types of swim strokes, and the long tights underneath the long skirt kept everything very modest.

I purchased for myself a skinsuit from LesiurePro that covered the entire body (and did not cost very much).  It was on the tight side so I wore normal swim trunks over it, and in this way could swim very well and be totally modest.  Men should be modest when they are in or near water, just like women should be modest.

We rejoiced that we were able to dress in such a way that we could honor the Lord Jesus Christ and be a good testimony to the world while enjoying God's beautiful creation in Jamaica (and also not get sunburned, bitten by insects, etc. because there just wasn't a lot of skin to burn or bite).  If you are looking for modest swimwear, perhaps these resources will be a blessing to you as well.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

God-Given Rights: A Crucial Denial of a Foundation of Conservatism at National Review

At National Review, a self-professing bastion of conservatism, Jonah Goldberg, one of its most well known, talented, and prominent contributors, writes of the Suicide of the West, beginning with these two paragraphs:
Let’s begin with some somewhat unusual assertions for these pages. 
Capitalism is unnatural. Democracy is unnatural. Human rights are unnatural. God didn’t give us these things, or anything else. We stumbled into modernity accidentally, not by any divine plan.
Goldberg offers suicide as an antidote for suicide.  One of the six canons of conservatism in Russell Kirk's, The Conservative Mind, a sort of manual or authority for conservatism is the
belief that a divine intent rules society as well as conscience, forging an eternal chain of duty and right, which links great and obscure, living and dead. Political problems, at bottom, are religious and moral problems.
Goldberg says, no, it's an accident.  Thank our lucky stars.  He says further, apparently warding away the suicide of the West:
Humans are animals. We evolved from other animals, who evolved from ever more embarrassing animals, and before that from a humiliating sea of primitive critters in the primordial stew. Almost everything we take for granted today — technology, prosperity, medicine, human rights, the rule of law — is a novel, unnatural environment for humans, created by humans.
At the top of the Supreme Court building is Moses, who received the law from God.  The rights we possess are not unnatural, but natural proceeding from revelation, general or natural and the special, the tablets in Moses's hands.

It's nice to find out what some people really think, what drives their commentary and their analysis, in this case, Goldberg.  His bedrock views don't make any sense at all.  You can choose between his lying eyes or a roll of the dice.

America arose as a consequence of scripture.  The Bible, God's Word, delivered men from darkness.  States united by consent of free men, who understood that they did not receive their rights from government, but from God.  The Declaration of Independence dissolved the bond between crown and colonists according to natural rights, self-evident ones.


I didn't write a lot here, but wrote all that I wanted for this.  Much more could be said, but I decided to see if there were other criticisms of Goldberg.  What he wrote is enough for me not to trust him.  He's clever, but this kind of "conservatism" borrows from a Christian worldview without believing it.  It will mess up everything he says.

Here are some other criticisms though:  American Greatness, hangtogetherblog

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Separation Is An Indispensable Message You Should Pick Up from the Whole Bible, But Let's Start with Genesis

After the curse, you've got two chapters in Genesis chronicling about 1700 years, chapters 4 and 5.  An explanation for the flood is the godly line adjoining with the ungodly line (6:2), producing an ungodly one.  God preserved a godly line by separating it, Noah and his family, from the ungodly one.  That's the message later in 1 Peter 3, when Peter says Noah and his family were saved by water.  Water separated Noah and his family from the world, saving them from the world by destroying the world.

Abraham was told to leave Mesopotamia in stark fashion, not knowing where he was going.   Just leave.  Go.  Separate.  Not stay and believe.  Go, separate, since you believe.  In the very next chapter, Lot got in trouble because he didn't separate, while Abraham was preserved because he did.  Not many chapters later, family members of Lot are incinerated before they find their way into Hell.

In Genesis 21 God told Abraham to separate his family from Hagar and Ishmael.  After Sarah died, Abraham kept his son Isaac home, while his servant separated himself to get a wife for him all the way back to his family back in Mesopotamia, and a straight shot from Jerusalem to Baghdad is 678 miles.  He wouldn't have taken a straight shot.  Rebekah went back to live with Isaac away from Mesopotamia, separated from her family.

Of the two sons of Rebekah, Esau and Jacob, Esau married two Hittite women.  The last verse of Genesis 26 says this was a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah.  When it came to Jacob (Gen 27:46), "Rebekah said to Isaac, I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth: if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these which are of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me?"  The daughters of Heth were Canaanites, going back to Genesis 10:15.  Jacob listened to his parents and went back to the same place and people that Isaac had gotten Rebekah.  Those people had changed, Jacob went about it in a very contrasting way than Abraham and Isaac, and then he stayed where it would have been better that he had not stayed.

There is a basis to say that if God had not separated Joseph and then his dad, Jacob (Israel), and the rest of the family, down to Egypt in Goshen, they would have become Canaanites and totally apostate in a very short time.  In Egypt, God kept His people separate for 400 years.  They could become a separate nation, a separate people with separate ways.  Then God separated them from Egypt.  He gave Moses a law that distinguished them as separate.  The laws were separating laws, both civil, ceremonial, and moral.  They wouldn't be like other people.

I could write much more, but the lack of teaching on separation, writing on separation, and then practice of separation in evangelicalism is destroying evangelicalism. Evangelicalism hates separation, and in that way, it hates the ways of God.  Evangelicalism mocks separation.  It mocks fundamentalism.  Fundamentalism doesn't separate as it should, but at least it does practice some form of separation.

In the end, God will separate the sheep from the goats and the tares from the wheat.  The Bible ends with separation, because the heavenly city will be minus all sorts of different people or people types, because God has separated them into the lake of fire.  Evangelicalism talks inclusion.  The world talks inclusion.  God talks separation.  The unity of the Bible is not the unity of evangelicalism, because it does not include separation.

Here's an example of tell-tale type of signs that I see in so-called fundamentalism.  There are many, but this is one of them that will explain the demise and then destruction of both evangelicalism and fundamentalism.  Mark Ward, a professing fundamentalist, writes a book about the vernacular of the King James.  Lets say that he has good motives.  He wants people to understand scripture.  Let's give him that.  Who does he look to for endorsements?  Look at the amazon page. Non separatists.  In order:  D. A. Carson, John Frame, Tom Schreiner, Andrew Naselli.  Yes, you have Kevin Bauder mixed in, one who identifies with fundamentalists.  I haven't heard a peep from fundamentalists on this.  They get their endorsements from evangelicals, the greater to their lesser.

Put aside the King James Version issue itself.  Fundamentalists don't care anymore if they have an association with evangelicals, non-separatists.  D. A. Carson was also an endorser of Mark Driscoll.  Carson is one of the founders of TGC.   TGC are indifferentists, to use Bauder terminology, borrowing from Machen.  The lack of distinction is a problem.  I have heard nothing.  Separation is going by the wayside.  Fundamentalists and evangelicals find common ground in replacing the King James Version, evangelicals and fundamentalists together.

Separation is indispensable.  It is the most distinguishing attribute of God, according to God Himself.  Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Evan Roberts & the Welsh Revival of 1904-1905: "Inspired Preaching" and Visions, Part 4 of 22

Consequently, instead of rightly dividing the Word, Roberts gave allegedly inspired “prophetic message[s]”[1] to others.  It was not necessary to preach the inspired Bible when Roberts’s own words and marvels were termed “inspiration.”[2]  After all, Roberts testified:  “We now, like the prophets of old, have . . . . transmitt[ed] . . . ‘The Word of the Lord’ . . . to the Church.”[3]  Thus, “[o]ne of the most striking things about the Revival of 1904-5 was the comparative absence of teaching,” for it employed “little theology of a definite and systematic kind,” preferring “visionary and ecstatic” experiences.[4]  Observers noted:
[A meeting would] practically resolv[e] itself into a singing festival[.] . . . At times, while one section is singing a hymn, another section in the chapel starts off a wholly different one.  This is interspersed with short, spasmodic addresses by Mr. Roberts, relating to visions he has witnessed.  Singing is kept up hour after hour—the same tunes and words being interminably repeated—far into the early hours of the morning . . . young girls and women, fatigued with exertion, are strung up to a pitch of feverish excitement.  Their emotions overpower them and they break out into wild cries and gesticulations . . . [which] are put down as a manifestation of the Spirit.  Some participants have since been confined to their homes with nervous prostration.[5]
In the sharpest contrast to the revivals found in the book of Acts, in the work of Evan Roberts, singing was employed “rather than . . . the Gospel message . . . being . . . preached. . . . The sermon is a poor thing compared with the . . . song.”[6]  While sermons in Acts and other portions of Scripture brought supernatural conviction and conversion (Acts 2:37-42), Evan Roberts claimed that the Welsh were “taught to death, preached to insensibility.”[7]  One historian noted:  “Evan Roberts . . . makes no sermons . . . [and] is . . . no[t] a preacher. . . . [P]reaching is emphatically not the note of this Revival[.] . . . If it has been by the foolishness of preaching men have been saved heretofore, that agency seems as if it were destined to take a back seat in the present movement.”[8]  At least such was the case for the preaching of the Bible—but Roberts’s “inspired preaching,”[9] his “inspiration of the exalted and supernatural kind,”[10] was considered a sufficient replacement for the exposition of the Word.  He asked, “Why should I teach [the Bible] when the Spirit is teaching?”[11]  However, in places in Wales where “greater emphasis on preaching and teaching” was made, there were “more lasting and beneficial results” than there were from Roberts’s “lack of clear biblical teaching” and emphasis upon “what he claimed to be the immediate guidance of the Holy Spirit,”[12] at least among traditional denominational groups such as the Baptists and Calvinistic Methodists.  On the other hand, Roberts’s method of neglecting the Word for other alleged revelations was central to the rise of Pentecostalism.
Evan Roberts “claimed to have received over twenty ecstatic visions during the earlier part of 1904, which left him elated but strangely perplexed.”  He placed an “emphasis on direct and unmediated divine inspiration,” so that his “near clairvoyant tendency . . . bec[ame] such a marked feature of his ministry [and] was given full rein.  He would claim regularly . . . that he knew by divine intuition of particular individuals’ specific sins and of their need to repent openly in order for his meetings to continue. These claims caused some consternation.”[13]  Indeed, Roberts began his own ministry after he claimed to have a vision[14] authorizing the beginning of his revival work and “hear[ing] a voice bidding him go . . . and speak.”[15]  He felt “his whole body shaking and his sight also wavering,” after which he seemed to see the people of a certain city and men sitting in rows in a schoolroom, heard a voice telling him to go to them, and then saw the room where he was “filled with light [as] dazzling [as] . . . the glory as of the light of the sun in heaven.”  Although he wondered if “this was a deceiving vision from Satan,” he concluded it was not, and left school to work for holiness revival because of “the vision and the voice calling him” with “support” from “the God of visions.”[16]  During the few weeks[17] of his training for the ministry, Roberts “claim[ed] he was under the Spirit’s command when he missed a class or forgot a study period or failed to finish an essay.”[18]  He “would open a book, only to find it flaming in his hands . . . [t]his experience increased daily until the awe that possessed him made it impossible to battle on . . . [and] Dr. Hughes, an American specialist . . . [affirmed] that Evan was suffering from religious mania,”[19] so that Evan “came under personal attack as a lunatic at worst and eccentric at best.”[20]  Concerning one vision, Evan testified:  “For the space of four hours I was privileged to speak face to face with [God] as a man speaks face to face with a friend,”[21] a privilege Moses alone had among the Old Testament prophets (Exodus 33:11; Numbers 12:8).
However, Evan’s visions went beyond even what Moses experienced.  The Bible states that no one has seen God the Father at any time, but only God the Son has been seen (John 1:18).  And yet, Roberts claimed to regularly see “God the Father Almighty . . . and the Holy Spirit,” rather than only “Jesus Christ” as did the prophets of the Bible;[22]  his experiences were comparable to those of Teresa of Avila, who likewise claimed she conversed with God the Father rather than Jesus Christ.[23]  Indeed, Roberts testified:  “I . . . sp[oke] face to face with Him [the Father] as a man speaks face to face with a friend” for “hours” every night “for three or four months,” and then “again retur[ned] to earth.”[24]  Unless Evan Roberts was a false prophet and under Satanic delusion, a greater than Moses was here, and so the possibility that “Roberts [was] . . .  intending to set” a “notebook” with his writings “beside the writings of the New Testament” as a record of inspired revelations is explicable.[25]  Through the power of the supernatural manifestations he experienced, at times “a tremor ran through him, and his face and neck were observed to quiver in a remarkable way.”[26]  Thus, his work in the Welsh holiness revival teemed with “experiences of visions, voices, and ecstasies.”[27]  His “bodily agitations were awful to behold.  They filled the hearts of children with fear, bewildered and astounded men of mature years, and caused hysterical women to faint.”[28]  On at least one occasion he records in his diary:  “I was commanded not to read my Bible”[29] for an entire day by a voice.[30]  It was not necessary, however, for Roberts to get guidance by searching the Scriptures, for he “adopted the practice of writing down a problem, placing the paper on to an open Bible and leaving the room for the Holy Spirit to write down an answer,”[31] and in this way he could get solutions to his problems.

[1]              Pg. 121, An Instrument of Revival, Jones.  Jones records part of one particular message Roberts received to give to his former tutor, John Phillips, on pg. 121.
[2]              Pg. 66, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.  “According to the teaching of the ‘New Theology’ . . . Evan Roberts was inspired . . . undoubtedly.  But if we fall back upon the old theology for our interpretation of inspiration, Evan Roberts was not inspired” (Ibid, pgs. 67-68).
[3]              Pg. 180, The Overcomer, December 1914.
[4]              Pg. 82, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.  “[T]here . . . is . . . precious little . . . teaching[.] . . . Do you think that teaching is what people want in a revival?” (pg. 35, The Great Revival in Wales:  Also an Account of the Great Revival in Ireland in 1859, S. B. Shaw.  Chicago, IL:  S. B. Shaw, 1905).  Also pgs. 24-25, The Revival in the West, W. T. Stead.
[5]              Pgs. 263-264, Voices From the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.
[6]              Pg. 31, The Revival in the West, W. T. Stead.  Comparison was also made to the liturgy of Eastern Orthodoxy, where preaching is most certainly set to the side (pg. 38, Ibid).  The “Singing Sisters,” who included “a professional singer . . . are as conspicuous figures in the movement as Evan Roberts himself”—they are “as indispensable as Mr. Sankey was to Mr. Moody.” (pgs. 49, 32, The Revival in the West, W. T. Stead)  Roberts testified:  “[T]he Singing Sisters . . . [are] [m]ost useful.  They go with me wherever I go.  I never part from them without feeling that something is absent if they are not there”  (pg. 49, The Revival in the West, W. T. Stead).
[7]              Pg. 26, The Revival in the West, W. T. Stead.
[8]              Pg. 38, The Revival in the West, W. T. Stead.
[9]             Pg. 163, An Instrument of Revival, Jones.
[10]            Pg. 73, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.
[11]            Pg. 49, The Revival in the West, W. T. Stead.
[12]            Pg. 101, A Light in the Land:  Christianity in Wales, 200-2000, Gwyn Davies.
[13]            “Roberts, Evan,” A Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals, ed. Timothy Larsen.
[14]            Pg. 230, The Making of the Modern Church: Christianity in England since 1800 (New ed.), B. G. Worrall.  London: SPCK, 1993.
[15]          Pg. 86, 112, Psychological Aspects of the Welsh Revival, A. T. Fryer.   Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Vol. 19 (December 1905).
[16]            Pgs. 17-19, An Instrument of Revival, Jones.  See also pgs. 21, 25, Voices from the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones; pg. 45, The Revival in the West, W. T. Stead.  Stead gives the account in Roberts’s own words, including Roberts’s asking a confidant if his vision was “of the devil.”
[17]          Pg. 85, Psychological Aspects of the Welsh Revival, A. T. Fryer.   Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Vol. 19 (December 1905).
[18]            Pg. 18, An Instrument of Revival, Jones.  It is noteworthy that, in his revival meetings, “[a]rriving late [was] usual” for Roberts (pg. 71, Ibid.).
[19]            Pgs. 18-19, An Instrument of Revival, Jones.
[20]            Pg. 28, An Instrument of Revival, Jones.
[21]          Pg. 44, The Revival in the West, W. T. Stead. 
[22]            Pg. 44, The Revival in the West, W. T. Stead.
[23]            Pgs. 44-45, The Revival in the West, W. T. Stead.  One recalls Hannah W. Smith’s satisfaction with the “bare God” who could be approached apart from Christ.
[24]            Pg. 43, The Revival in the West, W. T. Stead.
[25]            Pg. 181, The Pentecostals, Hollenweger; cf. Henri Bois, Le Reveil dans le pays de Galles, pgs. 460-461.
[26]          Pg. 86, Psychological Aspects of the Welsh Revival, A. T. Fryer.   Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Vol. 19 (December 1905).
[27]            Pg. 165, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Brynmor P. Jones.  North Brunswick, NJ:  Bridge-Logos, 1997.
[28]            Pg. 234, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.
[29]            Pg. 116, Psychological Aspects of the Welsh Revival, A. T. Fryer.   Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Vol. 19 (December 1905).
[30]            Roberts also taught that it was acceptable to read only one verse of the Bible a day (pg. 52, Revival in the West, W. T. Stead), although reading more of the Bible was commendable.
[31]            Pg. 523, “Demythologizing the Evan Roberts Revival,” Pope.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Jordan Peterson: The Lowering Standard of Acceptance

By the testimony of many varied substantial sources, Jordan Peterson is the most popular public intellectual in the world right now, if not just all English speaking people.  He went from zero to hero in less than one year and it's only been a year and half since he emerged from nowhere.  He has published only two books, the first in 1999, an almost unknown academic textbook, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief, in the category of behaviorism psychology, a real page turner.  That was the zero Jordan Peterson under a rock in Toronto, Canada.  After rocketing to new found fame, the hero Peterson wrote number one bestseller in 2018, 12 Rules for Life:  An Antidote to Chaos.

Peterson's now everywhere, but his rise from the ashes traces to his unwillingness to subjugate himself to the Canadian government in the use of preferred gender pronouns.  That's it.  He refused to call a woman "he" or a male "she," pitting himself against the establishment and the likes of the Canadian prime minister -- instant fame.  Then his youtube channel took off, latest count, 1,025,489 subscribers.  He skyrocketed with a certain interview, where he left his inquisitor gaping like a guppy out of water.

Peterson doesn't want you to call him a conservative, but a classic British liberal, which reads like at least a modern American libertarian.  It's an understatement to say he's being celebrated by conservatives.  That being said, I'm saying that this is what they've come to.  Conservatives have one public intellectual, from Canada, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, weighed against the entire North American University system -- whatever they can get.

(I want you to know that as I write this, I'm sitting in a Whole Foods in Oakland, listening to a crazy man near the cafe, right in the middle of the store loudly orating a speech to no one -- intense, completely sincere, some coherence to random disconnected lines, accompanying authentic gesticulation, very decent eye contact with anyone who might look at him, multi-syllabic, a grocery cart with five large boxes of bottled water and one crowbar in a small, canvas Whole Foods bag, and everyone ignoring him as if he were invisible.  Where is Jordan Peterson when I need him in person?).

The Times of London invited Peterson to write an Easter column (which you can read here).  Someone might say that he believes in Jesus.  Awww, let's just say he does.  I've talked to several others out here in the San Francisco Bay Area, who believe in Jesus like Peterson does and like Martin Heidegger did or Carl Jung, the latter whom he references very often when he speaks, all, I would call, reheated Rudolf Bultmann.   If this is your Jesus, you may as well not believe in Jesus, because this isn't Jesus, the true and only Jesus of the Bible.  It's worse than sweeping one demon out of the house and seven demons taking his place.

To put Peterson's "view" of or spin on Easter or the resurrection of Jesus Christ in my own words, Jesus is the foremost edition of a story crucial to man's progression as an animal, one that, therefore, should not be ignored.  The scorning of the success derived in Western civilization from its concession to the idea depicted by Jesus warns of its demise.  Peterson uses several narratives of the Bible to account for the principles and practice of effective living.  He's not saying they happened, but that they are powerful in their message, connected to what is fundamental to the advancement and preservation of mankind.  Concerning the resurrection itself, he writes:
The story of the dying and resurrecting God is one of the oldest ideas of mankind. It is expressed in the most ancient shamanic rituals. It finds its echo in the ancient stories of Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece. It manifests itself in allegorical forms — in the figure of the phoenix, which immolates itself, regains its youthful form and rises from the ashes. It permeates popular culture. Marvel’s Iron Man saves the world from demonic forces, plummets like Icarus from the sky to his near death, and then arises. Harry Potter — possessed, like Christ, of two sets of parents — dies and is reborn in his battle with Voldemort, a very thinly disguised Satan. That all speaks of a deep, ineradicable and eternally re-emergent psychological reality. 
The idea that the Saviour is the figure who dies and resurrects is a representation in dramatic or narrative form of the brute fact that psychological progress — indeed, learning itself — requires continual death and rebirth.
The first paragraph reminds me of what junior high students say when they knock something off their desk:  "It fell."  "It finds its echo" and "it permeates culture."  It has a mind of its own.  I really am not sure what "it" is -- perhaps natural selection or chance, neither of which can do anything.  Years ago, when I was very young, I remember overhearing a song by the Satler brothers, ending with this final stanza:
Now there are those who don't believe
In miracles or Santa Claus
But I believe what I believe
And I believe in Santa's cause
What the Satler brothers did to Santa, Peterson does with Jesus.  I'm not sure what Santa's cause is, but I know Jesus, and Peterson doesn't believe in Him or His cause.  The point of the resurrection is not psychological progress, at all.  At all.  There are several points of the resurrection, and Peterson's isn't one of them.  Not one of them.

I had heard of Peterson's theories on Jesus twenty-five years ago on a morning radio show here in the Bay Area, where Ronn Owens of KGO interviewed Uta Ranke-Heinemann for her new book, Putting Away Childish Things.  A few years before that, I was in the library of Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and saw a gigantic chart on the wall espousing Peterson's position.  Peterson takes it further, however, by joining psychology with the speculation that the resurrection story was a later iteration of early mythology.  He is saying that Western civilization, including its Bible, sprung from a consciousness proceeding from an evolutionary process.  He attempts to give scripture credibility with a rational and pyschological approach.  Peterson's defense of the Bible as integral or necessary for the success of American culture delights popular conservative figures.

When I heard Ranke-Heinemann, I was angry.  I called the Owens show and never got through.  Expecting to talk with more people who thought like her in the San Francisco Bay Area, I bought and read her book.  She was a liberal.  Her teaching was liberal.  Peterson teaches the same view as her.  Maybe classic British liberalism really is liberal, but with where we stand today and a lowered standard of acceptance, old liberalism sounds like conservatism.  Peterson's teaching is powerless and unconvincing with a bleak present and dreary future.

Peterson's teaching on the resurrection isn't good news for anyone.  Conservatives shouldn't commend it.  It's liberal theology.  It is not a strict construction of the text.  It will do no good to any of his listeners to apprehend his perspective.  If they do, they, like him, will be lost in their sins.

Jesus' resurrection happened.  The gospels present historical testimony.   The Bible itself authenticates the resurrection through many various and credible means.  History attests to the resurrection.

God is real.  Satan is real.  Since the beginning, as recorded in Genesis, Satan opposes God's plan and he does that by means of counterfeits.  Jesus' resurrection did not arise from early superstition, but false religion and teachers pervert, confuse, and cloud the truth before and after a real, true resurrection.

Life comes from life.  God gives life.  God raises from the dead.  God has power over death.  Jesus is God.  Jesus is alive.  After He was buried, He rose again, appeared before many witnesses, and then ascended through the clouds before many more and into the third heaven.  He fulfilled many prophesies.  He said He will return in the same manner.  Believing in Jesus brings life.  Jesus lives to make intercession.  Jesus lives to fulfill His promises.  He lives to deliver from sin: the penalty, power, and then presence of sin.  Jesus lives to sustain everything and especially those who believe in Him, preserving their life now and into eternity.  Jesus lives to resurrect the dead from the grave.  Jesus lives to prepare a place for those who receive Him.  All of this is real.  All of it is true.   It has all occurred and will occur.  If you believe it, you're saved.  If you don't, you're not.  If you don't, you're damned.

I believe what I believe in and I don't believe Jordan Peterson.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Is the Doctrine of Major Doctrines a Major Doctrine? The Rapture as a Case Study

Friends of Israel (FOI), the organization, and Israel My Glory (IMG), its publication, both have talked a lot about the rapture through the years and do again in a recent edition of the latter.  David Levy, the FOI Director of Education and Ministry Relations, writes in "The Rapture":
The Rapture of the church is a major doctrine in Scripture
Now what does IMG mean by "major doctrine"?  If the rapture is a major doctrine, then what is a minor doctrine?  I would agree that using the terminology "major doctrine" should get someone in trouble.  It is en vogue among evangelicals and fundamentalists to refer to a biblical teaching as a major doctrine.  "Major doctrine" itself wasn't used before the twentieth century.  I haven't found it.  I would be surprised if you did.  Now a discussion about whether a doctrine is major or minor has become major.

A doctrine itself today might not be major, while the doctrine of ranking doctrines as major or minor is major.  It seems to be essential to qualify whether a doctrine is major or minor.  You will struggle to find anything of the sort in history and I think it is forced to do so.  If you read here much, you know I think that this is an attack on the truth.  Truth itself has become bifurcated, this the bifurcation of truth that Nancy Pearcey writes about in her Total Truth.  Truth has been marginalized by separating it from the rest of the truth -- this is not how God and the Bible function.

Rapture teaching is unique teaching for sure.  Ecclesiology and eschatology were badly perverted by Roman Catholicism, the state church, and it wasn't reformed with the Protestants.  They kept their state churches and their amillennial eschatology, systematized by covenant theology.  Catholic doctrine arose from mixing the truth with pagan philosophy and allegorical interpretation to justify wrong practice.  To vindicate political domination it invented amillennialism and then defended it with its own concocted system of interpretation.

Rapture doctrine proceeds from a plain reading of scripture.  One attack is the lack of history.  This is often the same attack on biblical church doctrine.  Neither disappeared from history, but they are difficult to defend with history.  You will read a lot of Roman Catholic eschatology and ecclesiology in history.  By the way, you'll also have a hard time defending justification by faith with history.  I'm pretty sure that people won't consider that a "minor doctrine."

A literal interpretation has been called premillennialism.  A pretty good guide to determining a system of interpretation comes down to whether you think the millennium is 1000 years or not, when scripture says it is a thousand years.  Good evidence for the 1000 year reign of Christ is that the Bible says the kingdom of Jesus Christ is 1000 years.  Jesus returns before (previous to, "pre") the kingdom begins, since He sets up the kingdom and so He reigns for a thousand years.  If you say that a thousand year kingdom isn't a thousand years, you aren't taking that literally.

In Acts 1:6, the disciples asked Jesus, "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?"  The disciples believed Jesus would restore the kingdom.  He didn't argue with their belief.  He just wouldn't tell them the timing of it (1:7).  However, they were premillennialists.  They expected Jesus would precede His kingdom.

Rapture teaching, like premillennialism, just comes from reading the Bible, and usually the rapture is a sub-category of premillennialism.

I see at least three explicit New Testament passages on the rapture:  John 14:1-6, Philippians 3:14-21, and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.  Those three fit in with everything else that scripture teaches.  They are congruous with everything else.  They teach the rapture itself and they help make sense of, sort of fill in the gap for, other eschatological doctrine in the Bible.  They answer questions one might have when he is considering everything scripture teaches about end times.

Certain phrases or statements in the above three passages on the rapture indicate something different than the second coming, such as:  "shall rise," "caught up," "in the clouds," "meet the Lord in the air," "high calling of God in Christ Jesus," and "come again, and receive you unto myself."  They describe being called up to meet the Lord in the air.  Those fit nicely with what the angels said after Jesus' ascension in Acts 1:11:
Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
Revelation 1:7 says:
Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.
It's difficult to speak for anyone who overlooked this through church history, but it would be better for us today to stop missing this teaching.  It's there in the Bible.  More could be said as to evidence for it.

It's hot today among evangelicals and fundamentalists to poo-poo the rapture.  It's mocked by reformed types in part over the cheesy rapture films through the years.  One blatant effort, I remember, was the N. D. Wilson parody, Right Behind.  Wilson went on to produce or write his own cheesy movies ripe for satire.

Elijah went up in a chariot in a whirlwind.  Jesus went up through the clouds.  Paul was caught up into the third heaven.  Isaiah while on earth saw the Lord high and lifted up on his throne.  While on earth John saw a glorified Jesus in heaven and fell on his face before Him.

FOI and IMG and David Levy writing that the rapture was a major doctrine drew knee jerk commentarySomeone replied like an E. E. Cummings poem:
The Rapture is when we go up
The Second Coming is when He comes down
if you believe we will go up, you believe in the rapture
if you don't believe we will go up, you don't believe the Bible
Retractions and dodges started.  It's how really easy it is, what he wrote.  No, I didn't mean the rapture wasn't major.  I mean.  Wait a minute.  I meant.

I would agree that Levy should not have called the biblical teaching on the rapture a major doctrine.  It is a doctrine.  A doctrine.  Unless every teaching is major, the rapture teaching isn't major.

I could be walking along the street and as I fly upward, except that it's the twinkling of an eye, I'm thinking very quickly, this isn't major.  Major doctrines are something else besides being snatched out of this world into the presence of God.  Everything about my life changes because of the truth of this event.  It's not major.

The major-doctrine doctrine is what's minor.  It's non existent, which is very minor.  The first time I see "major doctrine" appear in history comes in 1911 on p. 350 of The Bulletin of the American Economic Association:
The Socialist party of America the lineage of which is more clearly German than English attaches importance to the materialistic interpretation of history and to the doctrine of the class war as, jointly, both indicating and justifying the only method by which, they say, socialism can be installed, namely, by the organization of those persons who do not possess property into a political party which acting independently of all other parties, will have as its sole aim the establishment of socialism. Their belief is that persons possessing property will inevitably, with exceptions so few as to be negligible, by their material interests be led to oppose socialism; while the non possessors, also with only few and negligible exceptions, must ultimately, when they understand the case, become class-conscious and approve socialism. This is not the time to discuss the validity of those beliefs, nor the correctness of that simple division of society into two classes. 
I must point out however that this major doctrine of the Socialist political party in America--a doctrine to which applicants for party membership are usually asked to subscribe--has no place in any of the definitions of socialism which I have received.
I don't find "major doctrine" used in a theological sense until 1930.  I don't find it, but my not finding it says that it was at least not in use until at least the 1930s.  How could that be major?

Today, if you want to attack a teaching of scripture, just call it a minor doctrine.  The list of major is shrinking and the list of minor is growing, and the list of disappearing doctrines is even faster growing than the list of minors.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Evan Roberts & the Welsh Revival of 1904-1905: His "Preaching": Part 3 of 22

            However, very often Roberts did not preach at all.  Services became closer to the pattern, though not necessarily the volume, of the Quaker meeting, where everything was spontaneously enacted as led, allegedly, by the Holy Spirit.[1]  Roberts’s meetings “remin[d] one of the Quakers . . . they would feel themselves thoroughly at home in [them].”[2]  While earlier Welsh revival movements “exalted the preacher,” and preachers leading the people of God and boldly proclaiming the Word were central to prior revival movements in Wales, this “feature . . . was missing in the Revival of 1904-5,”[3] which contributed to “the decline of the sermon.”[4]  Indeed, the “pastor . . . was practically regarded as an alien in the Commonwealth of Israel.  The prevailing sentiment was . . . [to] than[k] the Lord that He had shunted the ministers to the sideline.  [One] never heard a word from the Revivalist in public in recognition of the Welsh ministry, nor saw a single act that showed appreciation of their position.”[5]  Rather than emphasizing the study of and unquestioned obedience to Scripture, and exalting the preached Word, Roberts placed tremendous stress upon instant, immediate, and unquestioning obedience to the “voice from within,” that “voice” that drove him into public ministry and guided him in his work.[6]
            During significant portions of the Welsh holiness revival, “clergymen [noted that] [s]ince the revival began [Evan Roberts] has not taken a Bible verse and made comments as preachers do.”[7]  Indeed, “there was very little sermonizing of any kind,”[8] as frequently “sermons [are] put aside for testimony.”[9]  “Those who came to hear a great sermon, or even a sermon, were disillusioned.  [Roberts] was not an expositor or even a fluent speaker,” but rather gave forth “broken sentences” at intervals in his chaotic meetings.[10]  People recognized that “[p]reaching is not generally acceptable at these spontaneous meetings.”[11]  “Preaching, in the usual acceptation of the word, has . . . been entirely discarded,” as instead “services are throughout spontaneous, resembling a Quake[r] meeting.”[12]  “Welsh preaching festivals” were “converted into what approximated very nearly to Holiness Conventions”[13] through the Keswick connection of Roberts, F. B. Meyer, the Quaker Jessie Penn-Lewis, and others; indeed, “the Welsh revival might be regarded as a triumph for Quakerism.”[14]  However, preaching the Word was supposedly not necessary, since Roberts had “no body of doctrine to present,” but instead gave out “prophetic messages and exhortations . . . in place of expository teaching.”[15]  Following the pattern of the early Keswick conventions, Roberts declared that he never studied the Bible to prepare a message:  “I never prepare what I shall speak, but leave that to Him,” he declared.  This method was possible because Roberts had no substantive doctrine to communicate.  He stated:  “There is no question of creed or of dogma in this movement . . . only the wonder and beauty of Christ’s love.”[16]

[1]              In the words of the Quaker Jessie Penn-Lewis:  “Pastors allowed the services to take any form that might arise from the movement of the Spirit.  Anyone might rise to speak or lead in prayer without fear, and sermons were put aside when the need rose” (pg. 63, The Awakening in Wales), following the pattern of the Quaker meeting, and neglecting the fact that certain elements of worship, including preaching, were ordained by the sovereign authority of God the Holy Ghost for worship in the New Testament (cf. 2 Timothy 4:2).

[2]              Pgs. 30-31, The Revival in the West, W. T. Stead.  Stead gives as an exception the quantity of singing in the holiness revival meetings, a point—the sole significant point—of discontinuity, although at times even this discontinuity was eliminated and “effective reversion to the practice of the Society of Friends” appeared (pgs. 50-51, Ibid).

[3]              Pg. 53, Rent Heavens:  The Welsh Revival of 1904, R. B. Jones, 3rd. ed.  (Asheville, NC:  Revival Publications, 1950); pg. 76, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.  This neglect of Evan Roberts “helped to kill what otherwise might have been an impetus to reverence, peace, and vital religion in the land for years to come.”  Furthermore, even when preaching was not abandoned, it “deteriorated in its quality . . . becoming excessively . . . superficial” as well as not being “doctrinal” (pg. 134, Ibid.).

[4]              Pg. 177, The Pentecostals, Walter J. Hollenweger.  London:  SCM Press, 1972.

[5]              Pg. 184, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.  Italics in original.  Writing in 1909, Morgan continued:
During the Revival [ministers] were counted as nothing.  Not a word of appreciation did they receive when emotionalism was at its height.  They are still suffering.  For ministers as a class Evan Roberts had not a single word of appreciation, though the harvest was the fruit of the seed that they and their predecessors had planted. . . . The same unsympathetic attitude was assumed by Evan Roberts towards aged Christians. . . . [T]aking a general view of the religious life of Wales today, the name “minister” is not the call-word that it used to be. . . . It has been stripped of its former force, magnitude and richness.  It means less in the home, the school, and the community at large.  The average minister is now under toleration. . . . [A]t the time of the Revival [this downgrade in ministerial status] took a very acute form.  Ministers were not in demand, their services were dispensed with and their claims to leadership denied.  We are only beginning to realize its effect. (pgs. 188-189, 202-203, Ibid)
See also pg. 65, The Great Revival in Wales:  Also an Account of the Great Revival in Ireland in 1859, S. B. Shaw.  Chicago, IL:  S. B. Shaw, 1905.

[6]              Pg. 61, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan; cf. pg. 45, The Revival in the West, W. T. Stead.  Compare the reproduction of Roberts’s principles, including that of unquestioned obedience to what one identifies as the Spirit, the adulatory account of his work in the Welsh holiness revival, and an adulatory obituary in the articles “The Great Welsh Revival” by Ruth Russell and “Evan Roberts is Dead” (pgs. 11-12, The Pentecostal Evangel 1928 (April 1922, 1951).

[7]             Pg. 57, An Instrument of Revival, Jones.

[8]              Pg. 222, Voices From the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.

[9]              Pg. 64, The Awakening in Wales, Jessie Penn-Lewis.

[10]            Pg. 55, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.  Italics in original.  Also pg. 40, The Great Revival in Wales:  Also an Account of the Great Revival in Ireland in 1859, S. B. Shaw.  Chicago, IL:  S. B. Shaw, 1905.

[11]            Pg. 49, The Great Revival in Wales:  Also an Account of the Great Revival in Ireland in 1859, S. B. Shaw.  Chicago, IL:  S. B. Shaw, 1905. Scripture never commands men to sing the gospel to every creature and never teaches that congregational singing is evangelistic or man-directed rather than being God-directed worship, affirming on the contrary that “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21).  Nevertheless, under Evan Roberts “the revival . . . has followed the line of song, not of preaching” (pg. 33-34, The Great Revival in Wales, Shaw).

[12]            Pgs. 9, 106, The Great Revival in Wales:  Also an Account of the Great Revival in Ireland in 1859, S. B. Shaw.  Chicago, IL:  S. B. Shaw, 1905. 

[13]            Pgs. 27-28, Rent Heavens:  The Welsh Revival of 1904, R. B. Jones, 3rd. ed.  Asheville, NC:  Revival Literature, 1950.

[14]            Pg. 190, The Great Revival in Wales:  Also an Account of the Great Revival in Ireland in 1859, S. B. Shaw.  Chicago, IL:  S. B. Shaw, 1905.  Shaw affirmed that the lack of order in the service is the most obvious similarity.

[15]            Pg. 224, An Instrument of Revival, Jones.  Cf. pg. 99.

[16]            Pg. 34, Azusa Street: The Roots of Modern-Day Pentecost, Frank Bartleman, ed. Synan.