Saturday, September 08, 2007

Human Rights?

The true head of the Roman Catholic Church (unless you ask a sedavacantist RC) recently stated (source):

"It was in Europe that the notion of human rights was first formulated. The fundamental human right, the presupposition of every other right, is the right to life itself."

This is interesting on several levels.

1) It is interesting because it affirms the RCC's continued opposition to intentional abortions.

2) It is even more interesting because it implicitly acknowledges that human rights are not a Biblical or Christian concept. After all, the Middle East where the Old Testament and much of the New Testament were written, where the apostles were trained, and where Jesus taught, is not in Europe.

3) The Bible emphasizes human responsibilities, not human rights. Murder is wrong, because man is responsible to preserve life, and is forbidden from taking human life - not because men have a "right" to live. Abortion is wrong because it is the intentional taking of a human life: abortions shed human blood.

4) It is yet more interesting when we reflect on the number of people who were deprived of life by virtue of the edicts, decrees, agents, and associates of previous popes.

5) Finally, it is interesting to see that it is this admittedly innovative concept of "human rights" that places the modern RCC in conflict with the government's use of capital punishment to execute judgment on deserving wrong-doers.

None of the above should be taken to suggest that the concept of "human rights" is not a useful concept, or that it was not used to good effect to limit the power of governments in the past.

God gives and God takes away, blessed be the name of God!


Friday, September 07, 2007

Evangelism - Islam Style

Osama bin Ladin has released a new video. The present author has no plans to link to it, nor to any transcript of it.

The summary is:

America is bad,
Bush is bad,
Christians are bad,
Capitalism is bad,
Corporations are bad,
Democracy is bad,
Globalisation is bad,
Islam is good,
Terrorism is justified,
Muslims don't incinerate Jews and Christians,
The Qaran and the Gospel are from the same source, and
The Qaran has been preserved from the alterations of men.

And, of course, key quote:

"[T]he greatest mistake one can make in this world and one which is uncorrectable is to die while not surrendering to Allah, the Most High, in all aspects of one's life - ie., [sic] to die outside Islam."

May God have mercy on Bin Ladin, and convert him from the error of his way, before it is too late.

As for his specific claims:

- As a matter of historical fact, the Qaran was subject to alteration and standardization by various people. Furthermore, early Muslims famously acknowledged that much of the Koran was permanently lost: " 'Uthman, A'isha, and Ibn Ka'b (among others) all insisted that much of the Koran had been lost." (source)

- As a matter of theology, the path of salvation in Christianity is different from that of Islam, and the doctrines of the Evangelists are not the doctrines of Islam. Christ is the I AM, and the Muslim denial of that truth is blasphemy.

- Not all Muslim incinerate every Christian or Jew that they meet. Nevertheless, Muslim terrorists routinely incinerate both themselves and the Christians, Jews, and other Muslims they attack. Those young men who foolish follow Bin Ladin and the false prophet of Islam demonstrate that incineration is a weapon that Muslims use. Furthermore, whether or not they use incineration, Muslims are notorious for the use of the sword (whether literally or with reference to modern hand weapons like the gun). Only in the last week it has been reported that Christian missionaries in Pakistan were martyred by Muslims who used a gun.

- Bin Ladin claims that there are no taxes in Islam, but instead "a limited Zakaat totaling only 2.5%." Of course, Muslims famously eradicated Christianity in North Africa not only by the sword but also by confiscatory taxation.

- Terrorism is justified how exactly? Bin Ladin hints that the Christian west, especially America, Britain and France, deserves to be attacked. Why? Apparently because of our continued warfare against Iraq. Huh? It should be fairly obvious to those who read the news that the population of Iraq has accepted the regime change and is fighting a war against radical Muslim extremists who, like Bin Ladin, seek to spread Islam by the sword. We're there to help Iraq - we're not waging war against Iraq. Oh yes, one other thing. Were we at war with Iraq or any other Muslim nation when Bin Ladin attacked on September 11? (He notes that he cannot reasoanbly claim to be innocent of the September 11 attacks.)

- Ironically, Bin Ladin asserts that "our [Muslim] rulers in general abandoned Islam many decades ago." That should make it clear that Bin Ladin is advocating a particular - rather strict - variety of Islam.

- Bin Ladin claims to be "winning ... the war against you despite the fewness of our numbers and materiel." In contrast, however, about 75% of Al Quaeda has been destroyed, and the 25% that remains is mostly either hiding or incarcerated.

- Bin Ladin may be right that democracy is a bad idea (and this blog is not taking a position on that issue), but if it were not for democracy, he would have been long ago destroyed by the Russians. In any event, Bin Ladin is probably confusing democracy with pluralism.

- Bin Ladin uses the communist propaganda against capitalism, asserting that it makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. History has shown that capitalism made the Christian world rich when the Muslim world suffered in gross poverty, so that obesity (not starvation) has become the afflication of the poor in Christian nations throughout the world.

- Bin Ladin lumps in globalization with capitalism and democracy - an odd combination, but apparently an appeal to the anti-globalization radicals in America. Interestingly, the forces of globalization have been the major visible cause of improvement in the health and welfare of developing countries.

- Bin Ladin notes "abject poverty and tragic hunger" in Africa, but this occurs mostly in Muslim, former Communist, and pagan societies.

- Bin Ladin asserts that the war has aided "major corporations." What Bin Ladin does not seem to recognize is that "major corporations" are virtually all publicly owned. If Lockheed Martin benefitted, all its stockholders benefitted, and anyone who has money can buy stock in that corporation. Have "major corporations" benefited from the eradication of Al Quaeda? Probably yes. And that benefit has been transferred on to the stockholders, the American and global public.

- Bin Ladin blames Rumsfield for the Vietnam war, yet Rumsfield was a "dove" in the Nixon administration. (source)

- Bin Ladin blames Christianity for the Spanish Inquisition and the "holocaust of the Jews," when he should be blaming athiesm and Catholicism. On top of that, has Bin Ladin forgotten why the Spanish Inquisition was formed? One of the reasons was the invasion by militant Islam in Southern Europe.

- Bin Ladin claims that Bush is try to win the war by turning sect against sect in Iraq. In fact, Bush has already succeeded in uniting multiple sects against Al Quaeda in Iraq.

Finally, a summary of Bin Ladin's soteriology.

Bin Ladin writes (well, the transcript of his speech reads): "And all praise is due to Allah, who awakened His slaves' desire for the Garden, and all of them will enter it except those who refuse. And whoever obeys Him alone in all his affairs will enter the Garden, and whoever disobeys Him will have refused."

This is not so different from an Arminian or Pelagian soteriology.

But compare it to a Reformed soteriology:

All praise be to The One Triune God! He has redeemed His children from out of every land, nation, tribe, and tongue. He will open their eyes to the glory of His name, and they will follow Him. He will riase them to spiritual life from spiritual death, and they will dwell with Him in Heaven forever!


Pope Repents of Nazi Genocide

See this article (link), key words: "Pope Benedict XVI paid solemn tribute to Holocaust victims Friday, extending his “sadness, repentance and friendship” to the Jewish people as he began a three-day pilgrimage to Austria." (emphasis added)

One wonders whether the Albigensians, Hussites, Lollards, Covenanters, etc. can expect a similar and more well-deserved apology.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

A Second Debate - Monergism vs. Synergism

In the background, one Orthodox Christian is preparing to respond to the Exegesis Challenge I previously presented (link). Meanwhile, an Internet poster (Matt) from has accepted a challenge to debate Monergism vs. Synergism. Here's a link to the debate page (link), as well as the present author's introduction, below:

The present debate is one that is of great importance and interest in the church today, as it has been for many years. The issue is the administration of salvation: is it monergistic or synergistic? The present author will advocate for monergism and respond to Matt's advocacy of synergism.

There are, in essence, three views of salvation with respect to the role of God and man in its administration. The first view (which neither the present author nor Matt will advocate) is a view that man saves himself - help from God is not needed. This view is usually classified under the heading of Pelagianism, whether or not the historical figure Pelagius actually held such a view. For the sake of completeness, we could label such a view anergism, though such a term has not been academically accepted. This view suggests that grace is not necessary: man has the ability unassisted to avail himself of salvation, and any grace from God is superfluous. In other words, anergism argues that the grace of God has no essential role in salvation. Conversely, anergism either denies that God can positively influence man's saved/unsaved status, or that God chooses not to. Anergism can handily be identified as the view that "Salvation is possible for the unassisted, and God has left the decision up to man as to whether he will perish."

A second view is a view that man cooperates with God in order to be saved. This view is held by - among others - Arminians, Semi-Pelagians, and modern-day Roman Catholics. It is also held by others that are usually grouped outside of Christianity, such as Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons. This is the view that the present author identifies as synergism. This view acknowledges that grace is necessary, but asserts that grace is not sufficient. Conversely, synergism denies that God can entirely determine man's saved/unsaved status, or that God chooses not to. Synergism can handily be identified as the view that "God has made salvation possible, has provided assistance to man, but has left the final decision up to man as to whether he will perish."

The third view is monergism, the view that God by grace alone saves man. This view is held by those within the "Reformed" and "Calvinist" communities as well as by many pre-Reformation Christians, most notably Augustine. This view is also the view of the present author and his namesake Francis Turretin. Monergism holds that grace is both necessary and sufficient for salvation. Consequently, Monergism affirms that God ultimately determines who will be saved and who will perish, and denies that God either cannot save some or that God restrains Himself from saving those whom He wants to save. Monergism can handily be identified as the view that "God's grace ensures the salvation of those upon whom God chooses to bestow grace."

Anergism and synergism, to the extent that they attempt Scriptural justification, both rely on the Scriptures that focus on man's need to do various things such as confess, repent, believe, and persevere. Synergism goes further and recognizes the Scripture that teaches that grace is necessary - that man cannot be saved apart from grace.

Monergism completes the Scriptural testimony by recognizing that even man's good actions: confession, repentance, faith, and perserverence are gifts of God and the fruit of the Spirit's work in a person. Monergism concludes from these Scriptures that man is unable to do good of himself (sometimes referred to as "total depravity"), that man is changed from unable and unwilling to able and willing by an act of God's regeneration (sometimes referred to as "irresistable grace"), that God exercises His grace to preserve the sonship of His children (sometimes referred to as "perseverance of the saints"), that God chooses His children without regard to their merit (sometimes referred to as "unconditional election"), and that Christ's sacrificial work was offered for all and only the chosen children, whom God alone knows (sometimes referred to as "limited atonement").

The philosophical considerations noted above are typically with respect to the issue of "free will," with anergists and synergists viewing man's will as essentially autonomous from God's will, and monergists viewing man's will as subordinate to God's will. Scripture, of course, is typically brought to bear on the issue, with the anergists and synergists emphasizing the requirements made of man and certain general statements of God's interest in salvation, and monergists emphasizing the omniscience, wisdom, and omnipotence. Synergists and monergists also typically appeal to God's love, though in different respects: synergists claiming that they understand God's love to be broader, and monergists that they undestand God's love to be deeper.

The present author believes that monergism is the purest expression of Scriptural truth as to the administration of salvation: it is all of God. We do act, but we are not the cause of our salvation: we run as though we have not seized the object, and yet we have already been seized by Christ. We trust in Him to save us, and we trust in Him because He has converted us.

Scripture says:

Psalm 3:8 Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.

Psalm 68:20 He that is our God is the God of salvation; and unto GOD the Lord belong the issues from death.

Therefore, the present author affirms monergism as the truth of Scripture.

As agreed, the following three questions are presented to challenge Matt to consider the issues. In order to set the stage for the questions, I present the following account:

In 1950 a man named Osama and his twin sister Theresa are born. He lives and dies in 2010 without ever having had faith in Christ. He does not inherit eternal life. She comes to faith in Christ in 2009 and dies in faith in 2010 with her twin brother. She does inherit eternal life.

1) In what way and at what time did God desire to save each of these twins?
2) Did God love these twins differently (from each other) at any time?
3) Did God get what He wanted with respect to each of these twins?

I hope that this provides a good platform for this informal debate, and I welcome any comments, clarification, and so forth. [Incidentally, I welcome comments by any readers of this blog on the questions presented, particular readers who are synergist or anergist in their soteriology.]

May God use this debate to the edification of all those who pass by,


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A Modern Abomination

Human/animal hybrids (link). It's not a new idea, but it raises some interesting issues in terms of the protection of human life, and the definition of "human." Does the substitution/insertion of a short "alien" genetic sequence render a human embryo non-human? Does the substitution/insertion of a short human genetic sequence render a non-human embryo human?

Obviously, the scientists are not going to treat the hybrids as though they are people, and yet are interested in them precisely because of their genetic derivation from people.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Centuri0n on Kurschner - Some Comments

Brother Centuri0n has posted a brief article (link) commending Kurschner's eight reasons (link), which the present author had previously addressed (link).

I'm not sure whether Centuri0n actually read the article (he mistakenly claims that AK lists 10 reasons), and Centuri0n's post may be taken as representing support of the anti-KJV position more than anything else.

Nevertheless, the present author wishes to clarify a few things in response to Centuri0n's comments:

1) Yes, in Western Europe the primary language in which the Bible was preserved was Latin, and the Latin Bible transformed Western Europe. This is actually a significant argument in favor of the KJV preferred and "majority" argument and especially the Textus Receptus argument, as the Latin tends to frequently align with the Textus Receptus and to be reflected in the KJV translation.

2) History does matter, and it is important to recognize that the English Bible was first a translation from the Latin (first with a partial translation by Bede and later a New Testament translation by Wycliffe) and only after printed Greek Testaments were made available in the form of Erasmus' 1516 edition did the Bible get translated with reference to the Greek. The Latin influenced the English translators resolution of many Greek ambiguities, as well it should.

3) Centuri0n makes a great point, which is that God has a plan for His word, and that God preserves His word. Francis Turretin (the original, not the present author) made the same point before there was a KJVO movement.

4) The Vulgate may have defects, but it gained traction because it was an excellent translation, not despite being an inferior translation. That traction was assisted by the fact that it was given assistance by the bishops of Rome. Nevertheless, the very reason that Jerome's work was commissioned was to improve on the various Latin translations that were in circulation in his day.

5) Centuri0n's last paragraph is a tad bit off-target. He writes:

This is not an argument against integrity in translation, or having right methods -- because we are receivers of the text, and we ought to receive it with some kind of faith-fortified, Christ-exalting humility. But the purpose of right methods is discipleship and evangelism (not necessarily in that order). Right methods ought to lead us to the right view of what God is doing and has done, rather than replacing one human work with another and then arguing which is really the least-errant.

TurretinFan responds:

That sounds great, but the only way to try to achieve high integrity in translation and collation is by replacing one human work with another and debating the relative merit of each. The purpose of the right methods is to maintain the text in as close to its original, unaltered state as possible. It is the purpose of commentaters and evangelists to expound upon the text for the purpose of edifying and adding to the flock (not in that order).

6) Finally, it is worth noting that there are other important ecclesiastical texts besides the Vulgate, the KJV, and the Byzantine Greek. There are also the Slavonic, Armenian, Syriac, Georgian, the Coptic, and even the Ethiopic (and others in addition to those). They are not all equally good, and they are not necessarily good in proportion to the number of Christians who used them. Nevertheless, they play a role in reconstructing the original text, a role that many anti-KJV advocates tend to overlook.


Monday, September 03, 2007

God Gives - Infidel Misattributes

Here's a story (link) about a neo-pagan falsely claiming that his false gods gave him a lottery win. It would be unsurprising if the man actually believed his own press: so strong is the delusion of the corruption of man's nature.

But it is God, not the demons of Wicca that disposes the lottery, and determines its winners.

The man should thank God, but instead he gives credit to folly.

If that man is reading, here is a special message: turn from the darkness of Wicca: those false gods are either nothing or demons. The LORD, he is the Great God above all Gods. It is He who created all things, and it is He who provides. He has greatly blessed you with a small fortune. Turn now from the wickedness of paganism and bend the knee to the one Triune God!

May God be pleased to turn many to Himself!