Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Monday, September 29, 2008

What Jesus Wrote

The other day my 8 year old son said this: "Mom, I wish I had a time machine so I could go back in time and see what Jesus wrote." I said, "Son, Jesus didn't really 'write' anything... but He spoke a lot and we have His words recorded in the Bible so you don't have to travel back in time." My son was thinking on a different track than me and said, "He did wirte mom. He wrote something on the ground and I want to go back in time and see what it said."

This was really an interesting moment with my son. I was impressed with his thinking. (I had to eat a little crow!) Jesus did write something and it must have been something very powerful:

4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” 6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” 8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. (John 8:4-9)
This is one of my favorite passages. The Pharisees were prime utilizers of the 'political gamesmanship' we see in religious disagreements throughout time. Someone doesn't appreciate the religious views or practices of another and so they try to trick them into a conundrum. (Once or twice it occurred to me to try this myself in internet debates with Calvinists, but I wasn't clever enough to think of a good strategy!) I'm not saying it's wrong to use questions to try to get someone else to think through to the logical conslusion of their views. Jesus used this method too! But it is the spirit in which you do these things that can be deadly.

Jesus wrote on the ground. What do you think he wrote? Do you think it was anything of significance that He wrote... or was it just the "zinger" of a statement that he made which caused them all to leave?: “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Unashamed of Grace

Escalation and Rhetoric

My thoughts on the current article in the GES newsletter by Zane Hodges.

Monday, September 22, 2008

More thoughts on Busybodies

When I was reading some commentaries on 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15, I came across this note from J. Vernon McGee:

People in the church ought to withdraw from troublemakers in the church. However, many people more or less court their favor, because they don't want those people to talk about them, knowing they have vicious tongues. But withdrawing from the gossips would be the best thing that could happen in many churches. ~J. Vernon McGee

Rings true.

Fetuses and Babies

Is it 'emotive' and 'sentimental' to call a fetus a "baby"?? Some say it is.

Here is a thought experiment: Think of a mother on the birthing table at full term, normal pregnancy. Is that a baby in the birth canal? You know it is. Now go back a week. Is it still a baby? Carry this on for a while. Where does it become not a baby? How far back in the development of the nine months do we go to declare it is not a baby? I have heard doctors of OB/Gyn who have become anti-abortion, changing their mind from pro-abortion, and they say that this thought experiment is what brought them to be against abortion. They know that development of the human fetus is a smooth continuum. There isn't a "bar mitzvah" in the womb - no great change from one thing to another - it is all very gradual - and so impossible to pinpoint a day, or week, that the fetus changes into a human being, into that baby in the birth canal (and the day and the week before birth etc.... )

The "big bang" days are conception and birth.

In light of this smooth continuum of development in the womb, we must face the fact that if we want to be reasonably logical, then to answer the question of 'when life begins,' we have to pick one of these:

1. conception
2. birth

If we say that 2. birth is when this thing becomes a person, then it is totally logical that abortion should be allowed during all nine months of pregnancy and it should be without moral trepidation. The people that advocate that partial-birth abortion is OK are actually being consistent with their belief that BIRTH makes someone a person.

On the other hand, if we say that 1. conception is when life begins, then that brings obvious implications with it and a drain on the idea that abortion is OK and without moral consequence.

Now, if you hold that birth is when the fetus becomes human or a person, why would we say that abortion is to be avoided or curbed?

One more thing: You said calling this a baby is: "emotive and sentimental (even manipulate) language."

When I was pregnant with our fourth child a couple of years ago and my other kids were 6, 8 and 10, they looked at the 20 week ultrasound and they said it was a "baby." It is common to call what comes out of the womb a "baby". I don't think this is emotive language. It is consistent with the view that life begins sometime before birth.

I think using the word "fetus" in lay discussions evolved in these last decades to avoid guilt over the fact that people knew that the mother on the delivery table (in my thought experiment) is delivering a "baby." I would say that using the word "fetus" as we do today is to make abortion seem morally permissable by trying to squelch the basic human tendency that we have to protect those who are the most vulnerable in our species: babies.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Heart to Heart

I have had a major breakthough in my thinking this week!

Funnily enough, it started with some frustrating interactions on a blog. I clicked on a link to a blog and was reading a post that I thought was very heartfelt by a man named Dave and I wanted to encourage the brother. So I left him a very benign comment - something like "Thanks for sharing your story."

Immediately, Lou Martuneac came in and began posting that "Rose" is a "supporter of the crossless gospel." It was nuts! "Here we go again." I thought. *sigh* The blog owner, of course upon seeing such an awful phrase, "crossless gospel", deleted my simple comment. I thought that would be the end of that. I am not a propegator of any "crossless gospel," but it seemed I would not be able to say such.

It wasn't. Dave emailed me and apologized for not letting me speak for myself. We sent several emails back and forth and I was encouraged that he believed me about who I really am... despite Lou Martuneac's attempts to spread his "Rose" talk.

This caused me to trouble: Where can I go from Lou Martuneac? Can I ever escape his hand? Will he follow me everywhere I go and try to pin this "heresy" on me?

I was a bit bothered by it all.

Dave opened up his blog for discussion because he wanted to hear just what this "crossless gospel" was all about. He had never heard of the hulabaloo before. (Lucky him!) There were many comments. A litmus question was asked. I answered it in what one would think was the way that would dispel (for Lou) the notion that I am a propegater of this nuance of doctrine he calls the "crossless gospel." Not so.

Lou continued with these kinds of comments:
Lou said that I am:...determined to help them open new doors for that error, which could sadly deceive and ruin others.

In response I then told the blog owner: I am not. That is not my passion. I personally wish the whole thing would go away. My passion is that I am bothered that Lou and others keep bringing it up and the way this is being over-emphasised in some corners of the FG community. Lou is making it sound like I am trying to promote the teaching, which is not what I am doing.

Lou said in one comment that I was "dangerous." It almost became funny when I read the last comment by Lou (the comments are now, mercifully, closed):
Rose, All of us who have interacted with you over the last year or more and now read your comments in this thread and come away with this same conclusion we've had for months. Your pretense at being neutral toward the CG or its advocates is a facade and quite obvious.

So he uses language like "all of us... have the same conslusion" which might make me feel isolated and defensive.

BUT ... this passage came to mind just then:

8 The LORD judges the peoples;
Vindicate me, O LORD, according to my righteousness and my integrity that is in me.
9 O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous;
For the righteous God tries the hearts and minds. (Psalm 7)
Lou tries to pigeonhole me by saying that "all of [them] ... have come to the same conslusion [about me]." Even if it were true that it is more than just him, talking behind the scenes and saying these things about me... what does that matter?

The LORD is my judge and he knows my heart. What a relief that thought is!

My conscience is clear in this! I will not allow peer pressure tactics to get me to jump on the bandwagon and take up these fights. I am all for talking about doctrine and even debating it (as I do with Antonio and Matthew and others) but I will not throw brothers under the bus because we disagree over these things. Once again, internet friendships are not the same as a church membership. I can associate with any Christian I want to on the internet, even if we would not belong to the same church, based on our convictions. I can post at any Christian blog I want to... as long as I do so in truth and grace. THIS IS MY CONVICTION. I am not as easily persuaded as what Lou may think. I have my own mind. Listening to someone's ideas does not mean I will assimilate them. Listening to someone else's insistence that I am this or that does not make me this or that, either.

The LORD will judge this.

Lou ended by saying this:
I will warn anyone that comes into contact with me and has had an encounter with you that you are the friend of and supportive of the Crossless gospel.

If Lou Martuneac is going to follow me around and defame me on the internet because I would not bow to his demands to denounce these brethren, then he will have to answer to the LORD for doing that to me. I will pray for him. I believe him to be my brother in Christ and I have taken this to our Father.

May the LORD judge between you and me, and may the LORD avenge me on you; but my hand shall not be against you.
13"As the proverb of the ancients says, 'Out of the wicked comes forth wickedness'; but my hand shall not be against you. (1 Samuel 24)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

They are not busy; they are busybodies

"I don't want to work, I just want to bang on the drum all day..."
I don't know if anyone else will recognize that song from past decades. It reveals my increasing age that when I am thinking about an issue like laziness... such a song will invariably enter my mind... from FM radio of the past.

"There is this guy in my church. He says the Lord is coming back any day now. He quit his job and just wastes all his time now. He goes from house to house in our small town and bothers the people that are a part of my church. He is so gosspiy! He talks out of one side of his mouth about how the rapture is about to happen at any moment... but out of the other side of his mouth, he wants to dog my friend Jeff because he hasn't been coming to prayer meeting... and Sally because she wears too much make-up and is so 'worldly'. Oh and so many others! It has gotten really bad. He has run out of money and is now asking us for food. Others in the congregation are experiencing it too. He comes to all our houses asking us if he can eat meals with us. We have all tried to help him and invited him many times, but it is getting out of hand. He is causing trouble between people with his gossip. I think what my mother told me about idle hands is true. The more idle his hands, the busier his tongue has gotten. He gossips worse than a woman! I have had it. I don't know what to do. He is a brother in the Lord but this is ridiculous. He is a fanatic. While he waits for the rapture to happen "any minute," the rest of us are having to feed him while we listen to his rotten talk about the others in our congregation. He has us all on edge about what he is going to say next. My wife and I wonder what he has said about us to the others! Next thing he will lose his house and want to move in with one of us. What should we do?"

"Well, I think you should all tell him that unless he works, he is not welcome around any of you anymore. It may sound harsh, but this is the only way that he will see how terrible he is being. Do not welcome him in anymore until he repents of this lazy busy-body tact he has taken. He is a brother and so you should not treat as an enemy or anything as dramatic as that, but you should definitely not associate with him. It will be for his best. It is the only way that he will see his gross error in behaviour as he waits for the Lord's return, as I trust you all are doing."

"I was thinking about putting up fliers around town warning others of his poor character and his erroneous behavior."

"No, as I said, do not treat him as an enemy. He is not a teacher, either, so I don't think there is a big worry that others will be swayed to do what he is doing. But, separate yourself from him until he gets a job and stops gossiping!"

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Seeing Likenesses in Strange Places

Do you remember the story a couple of years ago about a lady who saw an image of Jesus on her grilled cheese and then sold the half-eaten sandwich on ebay? I was reminded of that silliness when I saw this picture on the internet last week as I was searching for a photo to use in the brochure for the upcoming missions conference at our church. (I was searching for "crowd" and I am not sure why this came up.)


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Two Different Reactions to the Same Thing

Matthew posted a big passage from a work by LS Chafer on the UoG blog. I liked this particular quote a lot:

In respect to redemption it is written that Christ died for fallen men and that salvation, based on that death, is proffered to all who believe; and that condemnation rests on those who do not believe, and on the ground that they refuse that which has been provided for them. It would seem unnecessary to point out that men cannot reject what does not even exist, and if Christ did not die for the nonelect, they cannot be condemned for unbelief (cf. John 3:18). Both salvation and condemnation are conditioned on the individual's reaction to one and the same thing, namely, the saving grace of God made possible through the death of Christ.
~Lewis Sperry Chafer

McCain/Palin - I am on board.

I have been watching the Republican national convention (as I also watched much of the DNC). I thoroughly enjoyed last night. I am thrilled about Sarah Palin. She has energized my enthusiasm for this election. She represents my particular demographic - she is only two years older than I and she has one child more than I do. (I wish I had 1/25 of her guts!) Most importantly, she is a true conservative like myself.

She said something about the "Columns" that were there at Obama's speech that totally cracked me up. However, my favorite quote of the night was from America's Mayor, Rudy Guiliani:
"Change is not a destination, and hope is not a strategy."

He hits the nail on the head about the Obama rhetoric. The democratic candidate for president is full of a lot of fluff and not much substance. He talks very poetically, but practically speaking, he has no idea what to do with this country if he takes the reigns.

... and then there are his scary views on infanticide.


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