Saturday, May 30, 2020


NB: lots of Christian stuff in this post, but there will be a tie-in to the role that I see Christianity playing in moving toward liberty.  Trust me.

The Christian Stuff

Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.  4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Sunday is the day of Pentecost; for the Eastern Orthodox, it is next Sunday.  While the Resurrection was necessary for salvation, Pentecost was necessary to change the disciples into fearless men.

For the most part, the Gospels offer a picture of confused disciples.  Confused about the role Jesus is playing in this drama.  The world in which they lived was certainly expecting a Messiah; he would be the one who would re-establish Israel’s kingdom on earth.  There were revolts as recently as a century or two before, known as the Maccabean Revolt.  This was an uprising against the Greeks; Antiochus IV issued his decrees forbidding Jewish religious practice.

The prophets anticipated a Messiah, and many Jews understood him to be the leader of revolution.  Much of the disciples’ confusion can be better understood if read with this view.

Peter was warned that he would deny Jesus before the sunrise.  Peter was certain he would not.  Mentally, we immediately move forward in the story to the denial, but in between, Peter cuts off the ear of the guard coming to take Jesus captive.  Peter was ready for revolution, not sacrifice.

It was only when this revolutionary act by Peter didn’t result in revolution that he then became fearful – and denied knowing Jesus.

Let’s skip over the trial, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection.  Now those who followed Jesus would be targets – they were also revolutionaries, associated with “The King of the Jews.”  Their leader, though they saw him again, wasn’t leading them the way they thought.  Then He was gone, in the clouds.  Alone, did they fear their fate?

Until Pentecost.  Immediately after, Peter preached the Resurrection without fear.  Three thousand were added to their number.

There is no salvation without the Resurrection.  There is no Christianity without Pentecost.

The Liberty Stuff

Ephesians 6: 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

I have written dozens of posts of debunking historical narratives.  One can label this as conspiracy thinking on my part.  So be it.  The history of the world is almost a continuous river of this reality.  Just since the beginning of the Progressive Era, we have:

·         A two-party system
·         Remember the Maine
·         Make the world safe for democracy
·         Central banks can smooth out the business cycle
·         We were minding our own business when the Japanese bombed us for no good reason
·         We had to drop those two bombs, else a million Americans would die
·         The single bullet
·         Gulf of Tonkin
·         Stabbing babies in incubators
·         Three building with two planes (and a dozen other problems with this story)
·         Weapons of Mass Destruction
·         Irrational exuberance
·         Pandemic

Take a look at the list.  Each one of these was used to diminish liberty; none of these were used to advance liberty.  These are the fruits of the rulers of the darkness of this world.  Call it a conspiracy theory.  It is bigger than most can imagine.  Could you have ever imagined the panic that took control over all of society a couple of months ago for fear of a bug?  Is this really all the doing of two-legged men?  Of Gates and Fauci?  Or does the never-ending list suggest something much deeper?

The apostles were only able to confront these rulers of the darkness after Pentecost – after receiving the Holy Spirit.


It is here where, institutionally, Christianity must fight.  Elsewhere in Ephesians, we are told to put on the armour of God.  The armour is of no use if we don’t understand that against which we are fighting.  Why put on armour if we aren’t to fight?

Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience

This understanding begins by recognizing those who perpetrate these acts designed to convince us to worship Baal.  This understanding begins by recognizing those who are the tools of the prince of the power of the air.  It begins by recognizing that the conspiracy runs much deeper and longer than humanly possible.  It begins by understanding that this conspiracy is designed to rob you of your liberty – in this life and (for those of us who believe such things) the next.

The apostles spoke truth to power after receiving the Holy Spirit.  Christians today must do no less.


The last couple of months have been tremendously disappointing, given how I see the path forward.  How quickly Christian leaders have succumbed.  From such as these I expect cultural revolution?

Well, this is what I have.  And, perhaps, out of this might come a smaller, yet more committed and more focused, body of Christ.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

The Separation of Church and State

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

-          First Amendment, US Bill of Rights

This post has nothing to do with this.

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.

-          Thomas Jefferson, 1802

This post also has nothing to do with this.

Foreshadowing Jefferson, Roger Williams, a Baptist Dissenter and founder of Providence, Rhode Island, would write in 1644:

When they [the Church] have opened a gap in the hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world, God hath ever broke down the wall itself, removed the Candlestick, etc., and made His Garden a wilderness as it is this day. And that therefore if He will ever please to restore His garden and paradise again, it must of necessity be walled in peculiarly unto Himself from the world, and all that be saved out of the world are to be transplanted out of the wilderness of the World.

This post has something, in a manner, to do with Williams’ words.  Williams was saying that “mixing church and state corrupted the church, that when one mixes religion and politics, one gets politics.”

Williams’ compact for Rhode Island was unique, at least at the time.  It was unique for what it didn’t say:

It did not propose to build a model of God’s kingdom on earth, as did Massachusetts. Nor did it even claim to advance God’s will, as did the founding documents of every other European settlement in North and South America, whether English, Spanish, Portuguese or French. The compact did not even ask God’s blessing. It made no mention of God at all.

Was Williams an ungodly man?  Hardly.  He was previously considered appropriate to be offered a post in the Boston church, “the greatest such position in English America.”  He refused, not differing at all on theology, but differing on the purpose of government.  The colony’s leaders believed it the role of the state to prevent error in religion; Williams felt otherwise:

Williams believed that preventing error in religion was impossible, for it required people to interpret God’s law, and people would inevitably err. He therefore concluded that government must remove itself from anything that touched upon human beings’ relationship with God. A society built on the principles Massachusetts espoused would lead at best to hypocrisy, because forced worship, he wrote, “stincks in God’s nostrils.” At worst, such a society would lead to a foul corruption—not of the state, which was already corrupt, but of the church.

I didn’t begin this post thinking it would lead me to Roger Williams.  Such is the wonder of this journey – it opens new windows not only over months or years of learning, but even over minutes.

I am still finding that I might not sufficiently clear about what I see as the proper role for Christianity to play in a society that is after liberty.  Perhaps I am also not as clear about what I mean when I write of God’s kingdom on earth.

Sometimes it is easier to explain what is meant by expanding on what isn’t meant.  I do not mean a Christian nation; I do not mean electing Christian leaders; I do not mean to advocate for moral laws.  I recognize, as Williams did, that such involvement by Christians towards their government – certainly since the Enlightenment, if not the Reformation (and I don’t dream of turning back any clocks) – will only corrupt Christianity.

I also don’t believe that Christianity has no role to play in shaping society.  Please note this in the context of what was written in the previous paragraph: this doesn’t mean a Christian nation, it doesn’t mean electing Christian leaders, it doesn’t mean passing moral laws.

It means what I have written in this post:

For example: feed the poor, care for the homeless, visit those in prison.  Provide a vision contrary to that which society offers: one of love, of meaning, of purpose. …Further, do something about abortion … open and support crisis pregnancy centers, support young women struggling with this decision; where necessary, ensure the possibility of adoption.

Act, don’t lobby; doing is much more meaningful than voting.  Do this without any involvement with the state.  I do not suggest petitioning the government for funds to do these things, nor to ask the government to do these in place of Christians acting.  Do not tear down, in Williams’ words, “the hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world.”  It only corrupts Christianity.  And it has.

I have also written about confronting the state, speaking truth to power:

Monday, May 25, 2020

Revisiting the Parts We Don’t Like

Well, you have responded tremendously to my request in the post The Parts We Don’t Like, where I ask for sources that examine the seemingly genocidal aspects of the Old Testament.  In this post I will offer some thoughts on several of your suggested sources.

This post will be very long – about 2900 words.  I will close with a look at some of the earliest Christian apologists.  It is interesting to me what they thought and why.

Cross Vision - How the Crucifixion of Jesus Makes Sense of the Old Testament Violence, by Greg Boyd (his website is here).  From reviews of the book at Amazon:

·         In conclusion, Boyd's proposal is based on the idea that God is completely nonviolent.

God most certainly is violent.  How do we understand the flood?  How do we understand the battles into which God commanded Israel – even if these were not genocidal (as will be examined further)?  They were still violent.

This sentence could be resolved if one substitutes the word “aggression” for “violence.”   God is completely not aggressive.  Aggression is the unwarranted act of initiating violence.  Violence is justified only in defense of or in punishment for aggressive acts against person or property. 

I believe it is correct to say that God does not act in aggression; I don’t believe it can be said that God does not commit violence.  Whose person or property is it?  Therefore, who is justified in defending it?

Returning to comments from the review of Boyd’s book:

·         I once again found myself disagreeing with the central idea ... that God withdraws from Jesus on the cross, and therefore, in the violent portions of the OT, God is withdrawing Himself from the people and nations who experience/suffer violence. While Greg is absolutely right that "something else is going on" in those violent texts, I do not think that the "something else" is that God is withdrawing from Jesus or from other people.

Is it so that God withdrew from Jesus on the cross?  The entire purpose of Jesus was the cross – this is why He was sent.  It is difficult to then say that God withdrew.  Did God turn into a passive actor regarding either Jesus or these Old Testament antagonists? 

With this said, this last point rings true (within the context of what is to follow from the further sources below):

·         In Cross Vision, Boyd shows an alternative view. Boyd breaks down various passages, different events and how God accommodated the warped views of ancient near east cultures and slowly molded the Israelites to be different.

At any time, God certainly could have given us a Garden of Eden.  But wait – He did that once, and we know how things went thereafter.  In some ways (with important differences), Israel acted in manners similar to actions consistent with the culture around them.  Can we expect 5,000 years of cultural evolution overnight?  We look through the wrong end of the telescope when we wish such things.

The Unseen Realm, by Michael S. Heiser

Heiser demonstrates that Joshua was only required to "devote to complete destruction, leaving none alive" areas dominated by these giants.

Who were these giants?  Per the reviewer, this was complete destruction of “The fallen sons of God [who wished] to prevent the birth of the Seed who will crush the head of the Serpent. As such, they attempt to pollute the human family.”  This refers to what is known as the Nephilim:

Genesis 6:1 When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

The word Nephilim is not used in the King James version of this same passage.  It is thereafter referred to in Numbers 13 – in the NIV, but not the King James.  In any case, a question is raised (and I don’t plan to chase this down today):  If these Nephilim existed before the flood, how were they existent after the flood?
William Lane Craig on Old Testament Atrocities (video).  Craig offers many points on this topic; I offer these without comment, and without implying that I agree with each point.  However, each is worthy of consideration in this discussion.  The points, summarized as follows: