Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

This blog will be written from an orthodox Christian point of view. There may be some topic that is out of bounds, but at present I don't know what it will be. Politics is a part of life. Theology and philosophy are disciplines that we all participate in even if we don't think so. The Bible has a lot to say about economics. How about self defense? Is war ethical? Think of all the things that someone tells you we should not touch and let's give it a try. Everything that is a part of life should be an expression of worship.

Keep it courteous and be kind to those less blessed than you, but by all means don't worry about agreeing. We learn more when we get backed into a corner.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Opus 2011-105, Koran Klarifications: Spelling Problems

What is the Koran?  It is the document that records the words that Mohammed claimed to receive from the mouth of the Angel Gabriel. 
"And we have parcelled out the Koran into sections, that thou mightest recite it unto men by slow degrees, and we have sent it down piecemeal."  Surah 17, “The Children of Israel,” verse 106
This makes it the most sacred book of the religion of Islam.  It would be the Bible of Islam or, from their point of view, the Bible is the Koran of Christianity.

If you spend any time reading you will notice that there are spelling problems.  I will use the spelling “Koran” because that is what I am used to.  You will also see “Quran” and “Qur’an” and possibly other versions.  You will see the same types of varieties with the spelling of the name Mohammed.  In my last software the computer gave me five accepted spellings of the name.  My current program gives me six. 

The basic problem is deciding how to represent the Arabic script in Roman letters.  You see the same problem in Chinese.  These languages have their own script that is based on a different system than Western Europe.  Over the ages different people have developed different ways to represent the sounds they hear.  Add to that different regional twangs.  As an example, how would you phonetically spell the word “oil” if you heard it pronounced by J. Vernon McGee?  I would go for “awl.”  That is different from the way Dan Rather would say it.  So get used to it.

Another issue is arrogance.  I am using a textbook that spells Mecca as Mekkah and Medina as Medinah.  These types of things come from “scholars” needing to impress people with their knowledge.  You always need to factor arrogance in.  The pronunciation of “Muslim” can also be a problem of arrogance.  I have people telling me how to say it.  They claim there is only one way.  When I ask Muslims they tend to shrug and say it doesn’t matter.

All Koran quotes are from the translation by Rev. J.M. Rodwell, M.A. provided by the Gutenberg Project.

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-104, On the NRSV

Earlier this year I came across a post that talked about the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) as being openly “gender neutral.”  I engaged in a short discussion in the comment section and later wrote my own post on the subject.  I then realized I had a copy of the NRSV on my Bible shelf.  I decided to read it in one of my Perpetual Proverbs  cycles.  In the first chapter I begin to see the effects of the philosophy of being gender neutral.  The Hebrew word for “son” is replaced by the English word “child”.  This is an indication of what will continue through the entire book of Proverbs.

Sometime you should read through the introductory material on different translations.  This gives you a feel for the principles of translation.  I found what I wanted about this “gender neutral” idea in a section called “To the Reader.” 
“During the almost half a century since the publication of the RSV, many in the churches have become sensitive to the danger of linguistic sexism arising from the inherent bias of the English language towards the masculine gender, a bias that in the case of the Bible has often restricted or obscured the meaning of the original text.” p. xii
“Linguistic sexism?”  Is this an objective measure or a term to come out of a politically correct university office?  I don’t think it is a Biblical term.  I don’t think it was around a hundred years ago.  I will accept that using the masculine “he” in a generic way is a gender bias, but to act like this is some kind of modern weakness in the English language is an intellectual stigmatism.  If the same bias did not exist in the original Hebrew then it would not contain the word “ben” which clearly means “son”.  You learn that this translation's principles are coming from the sociology department not the theology department.

It is interesting to note that this is a change made in the “New” RSV that was not present in the RSV.  It then continues,
“The mandates from the Division specified that, in references to men and women, masculine-oriented language should be eliminated as far as this can be done without altering passages that reflect the historical situation of ancient patriarchal culture.” p. xii
So when we are talking about modern times it is a “inherent bias of the English language” but to protect themselves from people who think this is the word of God they will honor the “historical situation of ancient patriarchal culture.”  Isn’t that an inherent bias of the ancient patriarchal culture?  Are they trying to say that the male dominance did not exist?

The slippery slope is hinted at in the final sentence in this paragraph.
“Of course, in narrative and in parable no attempt was made to generalize the sex of individual persons.” p. xii
Of course.  Not yet.  One of the principles of indoctrination is to make slow incremental changes.  How many “new” translations will it be before that happens?

One of the philosophies in the comments is that modern culture is more sensitive to the nuances of gender thus they do away with the masculine.  If that is the case then why does the KJV translate "ben" as “children” over a hundred times?

If you are going to write a survey of historical gender roles, go for it.  But don’t call it a Bible and don’t call it a translation.

The New Oxford Annotated Bible.  New York:  Oxford University Press, 1994.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Opus 2011-103, Koran Klarifications: Opening Understandings, Part 2

I said that the translation was endorsed “as much as possible.”  Muslims make a point of saying that the Koran can only be understood accurately when read in the original Arabic.  This means that no translation can truly be endorsed as accurate.  On one level this is a legitimate point.  This is true of any translation.  You always lose something.  For instance, in German there are two words for the English “to know.”  One is for knowing people, one is for knowing information.  This does not mean that you can only read Goethe in German but it helps to keep it in mind.

On another level this is a smoke screen.

First, it gives the impression that there is a unity in Islam that does not exist in Christianity.  This is not true.  Most people have heard of the two main divisions in Islam.  They are constantly brought up to explain the tension in Iraq.  You have the Sunni and the Shiite or Shia.  They are both Muslim in the same way that Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists are both Christian.  In addition to that you may have heard of the Sufi and Wahhabi groups.  They kill each other as readily as the English of Cromwell’s day killed the Irish.  Islam is not united.  It started to divide when Mohammed died and they argued about who would be his successor.

There is no unity in the Koran either.  This is well disguised, but there are different versions of the Koran.  The same issues exist that have created problems in translating the Bible.  These problems exist for any ancient texts.  Accept it.  Work with it.

Second, Muslims don’t understand the Arabic of the Koran either.  That may sound strange since so many of them speak Arabic as their first language.  I asked a student about this once.  He was Muslim and missed Friday mornings because he was at the mosque.  He was doing a report on Mohammed.  I asked him if he spoke Arabic.  He said he did.  I asked if he could read the Koran.  He said he could.  I asked if he understood what it said.  He said he didn’t.  This confused me, obviously.  He said the Arabic was very old and that the language had changed.  This conversation has been backed up by books I have read.

A light went on for me.  There are times when I have trouble understanding the King James Version and Shakespeare.  They are only 400 years old.  Imagine trying to understand something 1,300 years old.  It would be futile.  When I was in High School a teacher played a recording of a group of actors reading Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales as it would have been read when it was written.  It was impossible to understand even though it was in English.

The point is, Muslims can read the words.  They learn how to pronounce the letters.  They can develop a cadence that sounds poetic.  The problem is, they don’t understand what it says.  This answered a question that had developed in my mind as I was teaching about Medieval West Africa.  In the same chapter it talked about how Islam had spread in the area and that the area had no written history.  Everything was oral tradition.  Since part of conversion to Islam is learning to read the Koran I could not understand how you could be literate and have no written history.  My current understanding of what it means to “read” the Koran explains this.  They learned to pronounce the words but they never learned to understand them and use them.  It fits the facts.  Another mystery solved.

It is at a level of Medieval Catholics understanding the Latin Vulgate.  They may have memorized it and even known what some of the words mean.  Since they could not read it for themselves they were forced to accept what the priest told them about it.  Muslims are in that situation.  They often only know what they have been told.

Third, you don’t need to understand every nuance to get the idea.  While there is always something lost in a translation you can still communicate.  You don’t need to know Greek and Hebrew to understand the Bible.  It does not make sense that you must know Arabic to understand the Koran. 

Forth, you can explain issues in footnotes. 

I would make the same recommendations about studying the Koran that I make about studying the Bible.  First, I would recommend that everyone get a copy of the Koran and read it.  Read the whole document.  When looking at a specific quote, read the context.  Don’t be satisfied with proof texting.  At times it is necessary, but you can always go beyond it as time allows.  Check different translations.  Be open to correction, it is a learning process.  Understand that people lie even while claiming the truth.  Don’t be afraid of it, truth will out.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Opus 2011-102, Koran Klarifications: Opening Understandings, Part 1

I am going to begin a series of posts on what the Koran has to say.  This interest began several years ago when a principal who hated the fact that I was a patriotic American and a Bible believer made a point of changing my assignment from eighth grade U.S. History to seventh grade World History.  She was what I would then call a “liberal,” a term that has been replaced by “progressive.”  She was also an open lesbian.  She was so open that she announced her “marriage” to another faculty member at a faculty meeting.  With me she was doing “damage control.”  She replaced me with an avowed socialist whose parents were born in the middle east, a non-religious Arab,  who hates America as it is.  He thinks that Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States is the ultimate resource.  He truly dislikes our system and is fluent in Arabic so he teaches U.S. History and the Constitution.  I love the Constitution and had never read the Koran so I was to teach the period covering the birth and development of Islam.  This is public education at work.

So I bought a copy of the Koran and read it that summer.  Other people’s opinions are nice but the primary sources are much better.  I also downloaded the translation available from the Gutenberg Project .  As I read I compared the two translations.  The one I bought was translated by a Muslim and endorsed by that religion (as much as possible, more on that later).  (The Glorious Qur’an Translation, translated by Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall, Elmhurst, New York:  Tahrike Tarsile Qur’an, Inc., 2003.)  The download was the classical public domain translation that was translated in 1861by an Oxford professor, J.M. Rodwell, who I assume was at least a cultural Christian.  I felt that comparing the two would give me a fair chance at understanding what the Arabic actually said.  I am not an expert on the Koran.  I can, however, read and understand the meaning of what I read.  I will try not to read things in that are not there.  You be the judge.  If you are a Muslim I am open to correction if my facts are wrong but don’t forget that I can also judge what it says.  I am used to dealing with “Christians” telling me what the Bible says and means when anyone who knows which side of the page goes up can see that they are wrong. 

Many of the points of doctrine taught in Islam are not from the Koran but the Hadith.  The Hadith is a second book that contains the words of Mohammed as opposed to the Koran which is the word of God delivered to Mohammed by the angel Gabriel.  My understanding is that the Hadith is an extensive body of literature like the Hebrew Talmud, much longer that the basic scripture.  My impression is that the Hadith is so long and has so many contributors that it is one of those documents in which anything can be found if you look long enough.  The Hadith is not something that can be read through in spare time during a summer which means I am not familiar with the Hadith, so my comments will focus only on the Koran.

I know how many books there are that are commentaries on the Bible.  I imagine there is a similar collection about the Koran.  My comments are simply the comments of a reader who sees a lot of distortion by people who have never read either book.

homo unius libri

Monday, March 28, 2011

Opus 2011-101, Vocabulary Lessons

There was a time in our past when the vocabulary of the Bible was understood by society and its definitions accepted.  All you had to do was read common literature or political documents.  That time is past.  We live in a day when the world is co-opting the meaning of words and giving them designer definitions.  This has come about in several ways.

First, they steal our words and redefine them.  Charity and love used to be somewhat synonymous.  Check out the KJV on I Corinthians 13, the Love chapter.  The translators used “charity” all the way through to represent the Greek agape.  You demonstrated agape by giving of yourself to others.  The word has totally lost its meaning in contemporary culture.  That is bad enough but it has also lost its meaning in the contemporary church.  It has come to mean squishy emotional responses and lots of feeling.  Our entertainment industry has further polluted it by making “love” a synonym for “lust” or “sex.” 

A similar transformation has come in the concept of compassion.  It has become a matter of helping people because it makes us feel better or because it gives us power over others.  We are warned of this in the book of Proverbs.
(Proverbs 12:10 NASB)  A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal, But even the compassion of the wicked is cruel.
It is hard for us to understand how compassion can be cruel, but it can.  As a teacher I have students who are always complaining because I try to make them read and think.  I believe they have the ability to do the work.  All it takes is effort, a little bit of belief in yourself, and a teacher who doesn’t just want to feel good because they did something for someone.  By pointing out the answer on a page the teacher makes the student weaker and makes success in life harder.  A long line of teachers acting this way will destroy a student’s future.  That is cruel even if it feels good at the moment.

Second, they take old words and give them new meaning.  Remember when “gay” was a good word?  You don’t?  Remember the Christmas carol which goes “don we now our gay apparel, Fa la la la la la la.”  I don’t think that was talking about getting ready to go out in drag.  When kids ask me if I am gay to try and irritate me, I ask them, “What’s wrong with being happy, light hearted and care free?”  That is what the word means, not homosexual.  If you think about it, even the word “fag” has been corrupted.  When I was in high school we used to have a “faggot service” at campfire in summer camp.  This was not a time when people came out of the closet.  We would take a small piece of wood, a faggot, and throw it in the fire as we shared a thought.  We also used to talk about being “fagged out” when we were tired.

Third they remove the sacred quality of words with humor.  I remember driving along a freeway and seeing a picture of Green Stamps painted on an overpass with the phrase “Jesus saves.”  We have all watched monologues on late night TV.  For while there was a steady diet of jokes about born again cars. 

The attacks go on.  That is to be expected.  I don’t think the devil or his minions take vacations.  The sad part is that the church has surrendered to this attack and is losing the battle for minds because we do not have an honest vocabulary.  We need to stop being afraid to use big words.  We need to challenge believers to move beyond the milk and on to the meat.  We need to challenge people when they blaspheme against what we believe.  Use humor.  Be tactful if possible.  But speak up.  Use your words to defeat theirs.

homo unius libri

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Opus 2011-100, Logical or Scientific, part 3

Part 1
Part 2

After a long period of trying to evaluate social phenomenon with a scientific approach, which produced Sociology, and Political Science, we are now trying to evaluate physical phenomenon with social measures, which will produce superstition and weakness.

We have developed ways of doing things that can at best be described as bells and whistles or smoke and mirrors.  Popular wisdom, ne foolishness, says it is the way to do things and no one seems to be able to stop the nonsense. 

One example is what is called cooperative learning.  It has many variations but is some kind of group work that assumes that the students are loaded with wisdom and a desire to learn.  They share what they know and write the result.  We also do this in faculty meetings.  What happens with the adults is exactly what happens with the kids.  One, maybe two, people will be real earnest and desiring to please.  One will do the writing, the other will present or “share out.”  The rest of the small group will sit around an talk about whatever they feel like.  The work of the two little worker ants will but put on a large sheet of paper and later posted on the wall.  The leaders will feel like we have made a real contribution of the progress of education.  The rest of us count the years until we can retire.  This is one reason why education is going down hill.

We also emphasis appearance over substance.  One time a math teacher was sharing some student work.  The class was working on graphing.  He brought some really colorful charts and graphs.  Everyone was very impressed and full of praise until I asked a simple question, “What are these graphs showing?”  Simple question.  You would think it would have a simple answer.  He stammered awhile and finally admitted they did not show anything.  In other words they were just pretty art projects that had nothing to do with any equations or data.  Most people still did not understand how meaningless they were, after all, they were pretty.  I was the one condemned for being critical.

I wish people could remember that correlation is not causation.  Just because you do a “study” and find data the goes up at the same time does not mean that one caused the other.  My favorite illustration is one I read somewhere, years ago.  It proved that tomatoes kill people.  The researcher showed that everyone who had eaten tomatoes two hundred years ago was now dead.  This is 100% correlation.  According to social science we have a match.  Anyone who can count their change will see that this is foolishness.  It does not stop modern thinkers.

Think of what we saw in the 2008 presidential campaign.  In a taped interview Barak Obama admitted that raising capital gains taxes would lower the amount of money collected.  A scientist or a Christian believing in absolute truth would say that the obvious thing to do is not raise the tax.  Soon-to-be President Obama said the tax should be raised anyway, because it was “fair.”  In what way is it fair?  If less money comes in then the “rich” are paying less in taxes.  It is not even robbing the rich.  If less money comes in there is less to give to the poor.  Robin Hood would have been a failure with this philosophy.  But this is the logic of our modern age.

Keep your eyes open.  Keep your mind engaged.  Don’t ever accept that an expert knows anything or that a study proves anything.  They may, they may not.  Don’t be fooled.

homo unius libri

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Opus 2011-99, Senile Taste Buds

I have crossed a depressing threshold.  I am now drinking my coffee black.  That is not the depressing part.  What troubles me is that I am enjoying it.

A little background.  I used to teach science.  Since I found it boring I managed to switch to history.  One of the units was on the human body and I learned that as we get older our taste buds begin to die.  This explains why my parents were able to eat liver without feelings of nausea.  The last to go are the ones that taste sweet.  This explains why old people like candy.

Like many people I started drinking coffee to stay awake to study all night in college.  I loaded it with cream and sugar.  Not bad.  Then I came to the place where I was concerned about too much sugar and I went to coffee with cream.  I tried it black a few times but could not handle it. 

Recently I began to get serious about having diabetes.  One of the things necessary is losing weight.  I decided to cut out the cream in my coffee.  On a typical day that would save me at least 160 calories.  What scared me was that after the initial shock, I found the taste acceptable.  That means my taste buds are dying.  That means I am getting old.

I hope my brain cells are more resilient.

RIP taste buds.

homo unius libri

Friday, March 25, 2011

Opus 2011-98, Designer Toilets

What kind of toilet do you have?  If you are using the same one that was in the house when you bought it twenty years ago you don’t know what you are missing.  They have a whole line of designer toilets today.  Different colors and shapes.  Oval and round seats.  It boggles the mind and numbs the seat. 

Why do we need so many types of toilets?  They all perform the same function.  Basic white will go with any color scheme.  One size fits all.  What does it say about us and our culture to visit the bathroom section of the local building supply store and see the resources and creativity applied to basic sanitation?  Many people don’t even have running water.

How many different things in our life are this way, i.e. designer labels on toilets?  How much of our money and choices are focused on items that do the same thing at a much different cost?  Watches, cars, eye glasses, colleges, tissue, clothes; almost every area of life is included.

How much of your life is an investment in impressing other people?  What is the point of a Rolex watch?  I have never heard anyone praise it’s time keeping prowess.  It is all about diamonds and gold. 

Should this be your focus?  I think you know the answer.  Jesus said,
(Matthew 6:33 KJV)  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
If you read the last phrase and shout, “Hallelujah,” you have missed the point.  If you ignore the priorities of God, you are ignoring everything that is important.

Make the Holy Spirit your designer label.

homo unius libri

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Opus 2011-97, Basic Beliefs: Original Sin

Everyone will admit that there is something wrong with the world.  You may think it is the liberals, public schools, fluoride, or your mother in law.  As I have stated before, Thomas Sowell talks about the Constrained and Unconstrained visions.  Victor Davis Hanson talks about the Tragic and the Therapeutic.  Christians trace the problem back to the nature of man.  We are the problem.  It comes under different titles:  Sinful nature, Sin nature, Original Sin, Depravity and I am sure there are others.

The concept goes back to the Garden of Eden.  In the Garden Adam and Eve sinned against God by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  From that time on all human beings are believed to be born with a tendency to selfishness and rebellion toward God.  It is more obvious in some than in others but it exists in everyone.  The only hope is the cleansing that comes from the Blood of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.  In this sense Jesus is called the New Adam.  He undid what Adam caused.
(1 Corinthians 15:22 KJV)  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
Original sin is at the root of everything that is wrong in our world.

The problem goes beyond man and into the natural world.

Sin brings death.  We live in a world that is constantly dying.  Dead animals and plants decompose back into the soil.  Food is destroyed by tiny organisms.  Bodies age and are ravaged by disease.  All because of sin.
(Romans 8:22 KJV)  For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
There is a picture we are given of what the world will be like on the New Earth. 
(Isaiah 65:25 KJV)  The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.
Until such time we will continue to deal with the problem of sin.  No psychology will fix it.  Education will not blot it out.  Time will not heal.  The only cure for this evil is found in Jesus.

Now you know.  You are welcome.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Opus 2011-96, Headlines: Exit Strategy?

Libya is on people minds today.  We have observed the carnage.  We are horrified at how cheap human life comes in the Middle East and North Africa.  What do we do?  As Christians we can continue to pray for the people and the leaders.  As citizens it is a little more complicated.  What is right in this situation?  Do we have the right or duty to go barging in with guns blazing?  Should we just sit back shaking our heads over the violence?  There are many questions and few answers.

We should be careful not to get too hostile toward our president.  I would suggest that each American judge this president by the same standards you judged the last one.  Try to get beyond the party label and take the high road.  (Full disclosure:  I believe the current president is at best a socialist, at worst a communist.  I believe his real goal is to reduce the United States to a backwater of the world with only his elite friends living well.  I try to get beyond that.)  If you were a hawk before, don’t change because a Democrat is in the White House.  If you were a dove, stay a dove.

What amazes me is this mantra about an exit strategy.  They used it on George Bush.  They are using it on Barak Obama.  Since when do we need an exit strategy when the goal is to win?  I believe Ronald Regan was asked what his goal was and he said, “Simple.  We win, they lose.”  When we commit our military the only acceptable strategy is to win and leave when the job is done.    It is a strategy, not a tactic.  Maybe people ought to learn the difference.

Play to win or don’t play at all.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Opus 2011-95, Discernment Watch: Islam, a Religion of Peace, Part IV, Church and State

Another difference that people in the West don’t seem to understand is the relationship between the religious authorities and the political authorities.  In the West there has always been a tension between the two.  In America we talk about the separation of church and state.  This concept was origianlly an idea to protect the church from being controlled by the government as it was in much of Europe.

In Islam the true believers teach that the state is to be controlled by the religious leaders.  You may have heard of Sharia Law.  This is the practice of putting the religious leaders in charge of the laws you live under, all of them.  The political side of society serves at the convenience of the religious leaders and jumps through all hoops presented.  The penalty for failure is death.

This leads to such things as “honor killings.”  This is a concept out of the past.  For instance, in ancient Rome, the father had total control over the lives of his family.  He could kill his children if he felt he had cause.  In the Twelve Tables it says that a father can sell his son into slavery three times before the child is finally free of parental control.  This was a common concept in ancient society.  It is still common in Islam.  A daughter who dresses like a westerner and dates in the typical western fashion can be killed.  If you believe the reports, they are being killed.  Anyone who leaves Islam for another religion is treated as dead and often murdered for their apostasy. 

There is a reason Islam means “submission.”  It is expected, but keep in mind that it is interpreted in the same way that a Bedouin tribesman would have interpreted it two thousand years ago.  Whether you agree with it or not, you must accept that it exists and is the interface between Islam and the rest of the world. 

homo unius libri

Monday, March 21, 2011

Opus 2011-94, Discernment Watch: Islam, a Religion of Peace, Part III, The Koran on Violence

Muslims have an entirely different approach to violence than Christians.  Jesus taught to turn the other cheek.  A clear teaching of the New and Old Testaments is that vengeance is to be enacted by God, not men.  Here the New Testament quotes the Old Testament,
(Romans 12:19 KJV)  Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
Compare that to these basic comments of the Koran,
Sura II, verse 178 says, “Retaliation is prescribed for you in the matter of the murdered;...”
For those with a limited vocabulary, “prescribed” means required.  It is the same word used for prayer and alms.  Two verses later, in 179, we find,
“And there is life for you in retaliation, O men of understanding, that ye may ward off (evil).”
The Christian is expected to respond to violence in a way that does not come natural.  The Muslim is expected to act in the same manner that an Arabic nomad would expect to respond. 

Over time the requirement to turn the other cheek and allow God to take care of the vengeance produces a totally different culture than one that gives the green light to retaliation.  When American soldiers go to war they are expected to protect th innocent, even at the risk of their own lives.  The Muslim, on the other hand, hides behind civilians and puts their rocket launchers on the roofs of hospitals. 

There is a difference.  Do you have war mongers who call themselves Christians?  Do you have Muslims who believe in peaceful coexistence?  Yes to both, but in each case the “believer” is living in violation of the basic teaching of the religion.

All Koran quotes are from the translation by Rev. J.M. Rodwell, M.A. provided by the Gutenberg Project.

homo unius libri

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Opus 2011-93, Discernment Watch: Islam, a Religion of Peace, Part II, The Continuing Story

The same people who label Islam a “religion of peace” always want to point out the violence of the Crusades.  They portray the Crusades in many ways, each with an element of truth in a framework of lies.  One factoid:  What we call the Crusades involved Christian armies invading areas controlled by Muslims.  So far, so good.  What is ignored is that these areas were once Christian and had been conquered by Muslim armies.  Another factoid:  Crusaders went on the crusades to get rich.  Some did have that motivation, some succeeded.  But money was not the catalyst.  For centuries the Holy Land had been controlled by Arab Muslims.  They got along just fine with the Christians.  Because they made so much money on Christian pilgrims traveling to the Christian shrines in the area they kept the roads open and policed them against bandits.  They charged taxes and fees and were getting wealthy off the trade.  Then another ethnic group took over the power of the Muslim leadership, the Seljuk Turks.  They had a different attitude.  They did not police the bandits, they became the bandits.  Murder and rape became the order of the day for Christians daring to come to the Holy Land.  Then they closed Jerusalem to Christians all together.  It was only then that the “money hungry” Christians got angry enough to invade.  I could go on with other factoids.  One book that is good on this is The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades by Robert Spencer.

You might say that Islam mellowed over the years.  Did you know that the last organized invasion of Europe by Muslim armies was in 1683 when they laid siege to Vienna for the third time? 

Maybe the violence died out after that.  Did you ever sing the "Marine’s Hymn" as a child?  Or an adult?  Listen to the first lines,

    From the halls of Montezuma
    To the shores of Tripoli,

The first line refers to the Mexican-American war of 1846.  The second line refers to the war against the Barbary Pirates in the early 1800's.  The Barbary Pirates were Muslims who lived in the area of modern Libya, Tunisia and Algeria.  They made it a habit of attacking merchant shipping, selling the cargo and with the prisoners they either held them for ransom or sold them into slavery.  The Muslims looked at it as a part of the jihad, the conquest of the world by Islam.  It was only after we formed a navy and went to war with them that the piracy stopped against our ships.

Have you been following the story of the civil war in Sudan.  They just managed to have a referendum that allows the south to split off from the north.  What is the issue?  The north is Muslim and the South is predominately Christian.  For years you have been able to buy slaves in Sudan.  Who were the slaves being sold?  Christians.  Who was doing the selling?  Muslims.

Recently there have been stories of massacres in Nigeria.  Groups of machete bearing Muslims surrounded Christian villages in the middle of the night and began to hack people to death.  Their crime was being non-Muslim.

Remember the massacre in Mumbai, India.  Muslims infiltrated the country and went on a rampage killing Jews and Hindus.

If you are paying attention you can see a steady flood of violent actions by followers of Allah against people of other religions or sects of Islam.  It happens repeatedly in all countries.  The one consistent detail is that the attackers are Muslims, killing in the name of Allah.  You can say this is not the real Islam.  Next we will look at the Koran on Violence.

homo unius libri

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Opus 2011-92, Discernment Watch: Islam, a Religion of Peace, Part I, The Early Years

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
PRAISE be to God, Lord of the worlds!
The compassionate, the merciful!
King on the day of reckoning!
Thee only do we worship, and to Thee do we cry for help.
Guide Thou us on the straight path,
The path of those to whom Thou hast been gracious;
-with whom thou art not angry, and who go not astray.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?  What is there to not like?  This is the first Sura found in my Koran.  It is found at other places, depending on which version of the Koran you use, but it is a real Sura.  Compassion, mercy, help, straight paths and grace make an appealing picture.  It sounds like something straight out of the book of Psalms and thus something that any Christian or Jew could embrace.  It would be a joy to say that this is a good summary of the teachings of the Koran.

How is Islam a religion of peace?  My comments are based on a reading of the Koran and a general knowledge of history.  I am not familiar with the many different variations of the Haditha.

There is an old saying, “The proof is in the pudding.”  Another is, “Actions speak louder than words.”  So what does the history of these two religions show us?

Christianity was established by submissive slaves.  Its founder, Jesus, died a criminals death at the hands of the Romans.  If you remember what He said on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”  His primary teaching about how to live was summarized in the phrase, “Turn the other cheek.”  The first army to raise a banner with a Christian symbol would have been during the time of Constantine in the 4th century.  Until that time Christianity was almost totally pacifist.  It was a religion of the poor and weak.  In spite of this it spread throughout the world.  You have Nestorians penetrating China, Thomasinians in India.  Ethiopia became a Christian nation.  Armenia embraced the gospel.  None of this was by the sword.

Islam was established by the sword.  Its founder, Muhammad, personally led armies against those who had offended him.  In 622 he was driven from Mecca because of his teachings.  Eight years later, in 630, he had gathered an army and returned to conquer the city.  This is a long way from turning the other cheek and it established the pattern for Islam.  He died in 632.  By 742 the armies of Islam had left a path of death and destruction across northern Africa, north through Spain and almost to Paris when the Battle of Tours stopped their advance.  By that time they had conquered the Persian Empire, reduced the Byzantine Empire in size by conquering the Holy Land and were poised to begin an invasion of India.  All of this was done by warfare.  This is a religion of peace?

These first, formative years establish the basic values of each religion.  Christians have long debated the act of war.  Some still totally reject it.  Others allow for what is called a “just war” under certain circumstances.  War is the exception.  Islam immediately established war as the standard.  Have there been peaceful Muslims?  Of course.  But they were outside of the central teachings of their faith.

According to the Koran, war is to be a way of life, whether you like it or not.

Sura II, 216.  “War is prescribed to you: but from this ye are averse. Yet haply ye are averse from a thing, though it be good for you, and haply ye love a thing though it be bad for you: And God knoweth; but ye, ye know not.”

It is clear that Islam did not start as a religion of peace.

All Koran quotes are from the translation by Rev. J.M. Rodwell, M.A. provided by the Gutenberg Project.

homo unius libri

Friday, March 18, 2011

Opus 2011-91, The Economics of Traffic Flow

I have come to the conclusion that the economy is picking up.  My measurement is not scientific, it is simple observation.  A month ago I could leave home at 6:00 A.M. and get to work in short order.  The traffic might slow down at spots, but it kept moving.  For the past couple of weeks that has been different.  Now the overall pace is much slower.  It is not because of accidents or time of day.  I think there is a possibility that traffic in the morning reflects if people are working or not.

Nothing scientific, just an observation.

homo unius libri

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Opus 2011-90, Alistair Begg, Arminian

Recently I was listening to Alistair Begg.  I did not notice what sermon it was but in the middle of his comments he threw this in, “God is not only able to redeem us out of the stuff, but He is able to keep us from that stuff.”  That sounds like being able to live in victory over sin to me.  I totally agree with the statement, and its implications.  The problem is that it does not fit well with the Calvinist view of the Christian walk.  If you must sin every day in word, thought and deed, how is God going to “keep us from that stuff?” 

I am glad to see that Alistair is coming around.

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-89, Mark Driscoll, Arminian

I recently listened to a sermon by Marc Discoll.  I believe it was called “The Call to Discipleship.”  I found myself agreeing with much of what he had to say.  Talking about discipleship, he waxed eloquent on the necessity of obedience.  It is a topic that needs to be repeated frequently.  What I find amusing is that someone who mocks the Arminians as much as Driscoll would fail to realize the paradox of emphasizing obedience when irresistible grace, unconditional election and perseverance of the saints are all beacons of his theology.  Could it be that in his heart Marc Driscoll understands that the teachings of Calvinism are not supported by the reading of the entire Bible?

homo unius libri

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Opus 2011-88, Hanson on Sowell

I was listening to a podcast by Victor Davis Hanson downloaded from the Young America’s Foundation.  It was dated 12/19/2009 and titled “Obama’s Brave New World.”  He brought up a concept I have already shared when I was talking about the writing of Thomas Sowell.  Both men were giving secular approaches to the Christian belief that men are born in sin and that sin is the major cause of problems in the world.

Thomas Sowell talks about the Constrained Vision and the Unconstrained Vision.  The Constrained Vision sees man as the problem and believes that one role of society is to “constrain” him.  Thus we have checks and balances in our Constitution to keep tyrants in check.  The Unconstrained Vision sees man as an innocent victim of society.  Man is held down by religion and family.  If “unconstrained” human beings would build a paradise.

Hanson came up with similar thoughts but his were from the Greek civilization and literature.  He calls them Tragic and Therapeutic.  Tragedy sees man as flawed and needing the guidance of social pressure, religion and family.  The Therapeutic approach sees man as the victim and needing understanding. 

I find it interesting that the Christian doctrine of original sin is understood and expressed by so many people who would never endorse it.

homo unius libri

Monday, March 14, 2011

Opus 2011-87, The Williams Act

We are wasting money and teaching time because of the action of a judge.  Years ago a student felt like he was not being given the proper books by the school district.  He went to court.  Instead of dealing with the problem it became a class action suit.  Two different accounts were ordered to be set up, one for $150 million and another for $50 million.  Like most attempts by judges to run society no consideration was given to whether the resources were available to achieve the dream.  As a result, a whole new bureaucracy has developed.

Now we pay people big bucks to come around to our school, stand in front of each class and ask the students, “Do you all have a book issued to you?”  The students answer, “Yes.”  The well paid adult leaves to go to lunch.

I have been teaching for 24 years now.  In our district we have always provided books.  The availability depended on how many were destroyed by students, not on whether they were purchased and put in the students hands.  When I started, I taught science.  We had enough books to provide one to take home and a room set.  It is the ideal situation.  As students lost and destroyed the books and did not pay for them, the supply decreased.  We came to the point where we had enough for individual issue but no room sets.  The destruction continued.  Eventually, because students were not being forced to pay for their sabotage, we were down to only room sets.  The cause of the shortage was not lack of books purchased but irresponsible destruction by students. 

Currently the librarian is desperately trying to find books to give out.  At the beginning of the year each student was issued a book.  We had plenty and a reserve supply.  When students lost a book some would pay for them and receive another book.  The money would be sent to the district, never to be seen again.  One less in our reserve.  Some students would plead poverty and would get another book.  One less in our reserve.  By this time there are no more.  Where are the Williams people when we need them?  Why are we required to give another book to someone who has a long history of losing books?  Politics and judges.

The Williams Act also pays people to walk through and look at our rooms.  They point out things like extension cords that are too long, the floors are not clean enough, doorways blocked by desks, and the most important part:  Is the notice posted stating that there is a Williams Act.  We are not supposed to have any extension cords more than six feet long.  That is hard when the projector needs to be farther from the screen.  Doors are blocked because we have too many students in the room.  Maybe they should call the fire marshal rather than tell us to move the chairs.  The notice is for parents to read.  As if parents come down to my room and read the notices I have posted on the wall.  This is your tax dollars at work.

Elections have consequences.  Governors and Presidents appoint judges.  Judges make decisions.  You pay for those decisions.

The answer to this problem?  Vote differently. 

homo unius libri

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Opus 2011-86, New Terms: Tolerance

Another word that you thought you knew is “tolerance.”  What tolerance used to mean to people who had graduated from kindergarten was a patience and kindness you expressed toward people that you really disagreed with or did not like.  On a bus you tolerated a smelly body.  In a church you tolerated someone who sang off key.  In politics you tolerate people who vote for the other guy.  In families you tolerate your new son in law.

No more.  Since tolerance is now the meaning of “respect,” it is only proper that your educational establishment have redefined “tolerance.”  Now it means “respect.”  Get it?  Now you are expected to look up to people that don’t deserve it.  It again goes back to the foundational ideas of multi-culturalism.

Of course tolerance only goes so far.  You are not supposed to tolerate anyone who has strong Christian beliefs.  They are haters.  You are not supposed to tolerate anyone who believes in traditional ideas of morality.  They are bigots.  You are not to tolerate anyone who demands evidence of global warming.  They are stupid.  In fact, anyone who seriously disagrees with your post-modern, pagan way of looking at the world is not to be tolerated.

Of course, this way of thinking is not to be tolerated.

homo unius libri

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Opus 2011-85, Key Scriptures: Leviticus 1:4

(Leviticus 1:4 NASB)  'He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, that it may be accepted for him to make atonement on his behalf.

I will admit that this is not a household verse.  We do not quote it every day and have probably ignored it most of our lives.  If you are a traditional Christian you have probably understood that there was no way to have sin forgiven before the death of Jesus on the cross.  Sometimes His death is called the Substitutionary Atonement.  Some insightful people have even asked how the Old Testament saints that greeted Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration made it to heaven.  The key is in this verse.

God made provision for forgiveness of sin in the Old Testament.  You are looking at one of the verses that deals with this.  The key is the word “atonement.”  This word means that sin has been paid for.  It is a key word in the Old Testament.  It was not a New Idea for Jesus or Paul.  The shedding of blood for the remissions of sin is the reason for the perfect sacrifice of the Lamb of God.

The difference was the frequency and duration of the sacrifice.  The sacrificing of animals was an ongoing event.  The sacrifice of the Prefect Lamb of God was a one time event.  That is because the blood of Jesus was powerful enough to reach through eternity.  I personally think it went backward in time as well as forward.  Thus the sacrificing of the blood of a bull was simply a way of recognizing that the blood of Christ was sufficient.  You don’t always need to know how something works for it to be effective.  I don’t think doctors know why aspirin works, either, but it does.

homo unius libri

Friday, March 11, 2011

Opus 2011-84, New Terms: Respect

/The word “respect” is not new.  What you need to know is that the post-modern, new age educational system is working very hard to transform the meaning of this word and much of our language.  When you hear the word “respect” used by anyone who has graduated from college in the last twenty years it is probable that they are using New Speak not American English.

Respect used to be something that was earned.  It meant that you looked up to someone because of the sterling qualities or actions demonstrated in their lives. 

Today respect means tolerance.  I have seen it defined that way in the history text-books that I use.  Children today are taught that everyone deserves respect.  This is the logical extension of multi-culturalism.  Multi-culturalism teaches that all cultures are equal.  This means that the culture of medical missionaries that are risking their lives to help those in need is equal to the culture of the cannibals that eat them.  If you don’t agree with this then you are misguided at best and guilty of a hate crime at worst.  If you are a conservative, Bible believer it is assumed that it is a hate crime.  You “don’t get no respect.”

Today respect is demanded, not earned.  We are to respect children.  We are to respect serial killers.  We are to respect newspaper reporters.  Okay, that last one may be a stretch but hyperbole has its uses. 

Beware of the people educating your children.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Opus 2011-83, Wesley on Elections

We have just come through an election cycle that brought big gains for the Republicans in general and conservatives in particular.  It was a great time of “vote the suckers out.”  Now people are already looking forward to the next election.  As Christians we are called to honor Caesar.  Caesar is not the President or congress.  In our system of government, Caesar is the Constitution of the United States. 

As Christians we are to be engaged in supporting our Constitution.  We are to vote and campaign, not in the name of our church but as believers in a sinful world.  That means that we should behave different than the world.  John Wesley had something to say about that.
“I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them, 1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy: 2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against: And, 3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.”  John Wesley’s Journals, October 6, 1774
We should campaign with vigor with clear statements based on principle.  We are to campaign with an attitude the bring glory to our God.  We are to be salt and light.

Some issues have clear Biblical positions:  Abortion, homosexuality, and marriage come to mind.  We should never compromise on these.

Some are open to interpretation.  What is the proper tax rate?  How should we handle immigration?  How do we respond to the crisis in the Middle East?  On these areas we need to have a lot more flex no matter how strongly we feel.

Get out and get involved but don’t forget that you are a Christian first and a voter second.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Opus 2011-82, The Death of the Sabbath

(Exodus 20:9-11 KJV)  Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:  But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:  For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

How has the Biblical faith influenced our culture?  Let me lift out one item:  The Sabbath.  When God created our world and the people on it, the Bible says that on the seventh day He rested, or sabbathed.  As you can see in the verses above, a day of rest was mandated by God for all.  Notice that the rest was extended to the servants, foreign visitors and even the animals.  The tradition of the Jewish and Christian cultures is to have one day a week when no work was done.

Historically we see that the working classes did not need to agitate for a six day week.  They already had it.  Sunday school is not in the Bible.  It was started during the industrial revolution as a way of trying to educate the children locked into the labor grind.  Sunday was the day they did not work so the churches started Sunday Schools to teach them not only the Bible but the three “R’s” also.

When I was a child you could not do any shopping on Sunday because all the stores were closed.  I remember when Sears started opening for half a day on Sunday.  I remember when people did not always go out to eat on Sunday.  You could be a waitress or sales clerk and still expect to attend church on Sunday.  Some states made these traditions official with what were called “blue laws.”  This regulated what business could be done on Sunday.

Gradually this tradition has been eroded until now it is almost gone.  Sunday is a big day in the parks, restaurants and malls.  It is like a weekly holiday and people forget where it came from.  What that means is that more people are being expected to work on Sunday.  You can’t shop in the mall unless the mall employees are on the clock.  Gradually more and more people are being required to work on Sunday if they want to work.  Some businesses still pay extra for week ends but my guess is that as the tradition disappears, so will the bigger pay checks.

My prophecy is that the privilege will gradually disappear.  Christians will be expected to work on a day that God has said, “Don’t.”  We will have no one to blame but ourselves.  Without the religious force behind it I would not be surprised if we don’t see a move back to longer work weeks.  It isn’t happening yet, but wait a few years.  If we do not acknowledge that God has declared us special and needing a day of rest the forces of elitism will decide that we don’t need that dignity.

So enjoy your soccer and bike clubs.  Look for weekend specials at the mall.  Enjoy time with your family while you can.  Just as Christmas is becoming pagan as the “reason for the season” is ignored, so the weekend will become a source of bondage instead of a cause of celebration.

Mark my words.

homo unius libri

Monday, March 7, 2011

Opus 2011-81, New Terms: Ressentiment

In Idols for Destruction Herbert Schlossberg writes about a term I had never heard before:  Ressentiment.  At first I thought he had misspelled resentment.  Then I thought he was coining a phrase himself, but when I googled it I found it was real.

It is a French word that looks like it is a translation of the English “resentment.”  That is a good place to start, but that is only a start.  Schlossberg is discussing the rise of Humanitarianism.  This is an extension of the humanism of the Renaissance that is traced back to a group of heretics.
“Humanitarianism was the term originally applied to a group of eighteenth century theologians who affirmed the humanity but denied the deity of Christ.” (page 51)
When you get away from the clear teaching of the Bible it opens up the door to all kinds of perversions of truth and allegiance to sin.  This led to the extreme mutation of the tenth commandment, “Thou shall not covet.”  Ressentiment is coveting gone wild.
Ressentiment begins with perceived injury that may have a basis in fact, but more often is occasioned by envy for the possessions or the qualities possessed by another person.”  (page 51, emphasis in original)
Where this goes beyond resentment is in the willingness to do damage to yourself in order to bring the other person down.  You hate so much that you are willing to destroy yourself, your family, your future in order to make sure that the other person or group does not enjoy the benefits that they are experiencing. 
Ressentiment values its own welfare less than it does the debasement or harm of its object.”  (page 52, emphasis in original)
This is part of the thinking that is going on in the class warfare being promoted by the Progressives in charge of our government.  That is why Barak Obama can admit that raising the tax rate on capital gains will actually bring in less money but that it is “fair.”  The purpose of the tax increase is not to benefit the country but to attempt to destroy those with investments.  This is ressentiment at work. 

This is why the progressives keep passing program that make it almost impossible for poor people to get off welfare.  The goal is not to benefit the poor, it is to cause class warfare that drags down the middle class.

Keep your eyes open.  You will see many examples of this.  The only cure is a belief in a righteous and just God that says, “Thou shall not covet.”

homo unius libri

Schlossberg, Herbert.  Idols for Destruction.  Nashville:  Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Opus 2011-80, Spiritual Gifts: Tongues, Part III, Observations

 Here are my observations working through chapters 12-14 in I Corinthians.

Everyone does not have the gift of tongues.  First of all look at the introductory comments,
(1 Corinthians 12:4 NASB)  Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.
If that isn’t clear enough for you look a few verses down as Paul expands on the theme,
(1 Corinthians 12:10 NASB)  and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues.
Notice that the gifts are spread around.  We hear a litany of “to another” and tongues is no exception.  If that isn’t clear enough for you, read this:
(1 Corinthians 12:30 NASB)  All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they?
These are rhetorical questions.  The answers are assumed to be clear.  So how do we get people saying that everyone must speak in tongues?

Second, tongues is the least important of the gifts.  This seems obvious to me in this verse,
(1 Corinthians 12:28 KJV)  And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
This seems a definite order with the words “first,”  “secondarily” and so forth.  These Greek words are “proton,” “deuteros,” and “tritos.”  It pretty obvious this is a ranking.  When you skip forward to chapter 14, Paul makes it very clear in the first few verses that prophecy is a much more useful gift than tongues.  He summarizes its lack of importance,
(1 Corinthians 14:19 KJV)  Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.
Third, the corollary of this is to restate that, whatever it is that Paul is downplaying, he seems to feel like it has a real place in the church and the life of the believer.  Notice this,
(1 Corinthians 14:5 KJV)  I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.
This is a mixed verse for those who overemphasize speaking in tongues.  Paul wishes everyone did it, but at the same time, points out that he wishes more that everyone could speak prophecy.

Fourth, tongues tends toward selfishness. 
(1 Corinthians 14:4 KJV)  He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.
The purpose of the gifts is to build up the church.  Tongues tends to build up the one speaking.  Some people teach that it is a prayer language.  I have trouble with that because of this verse.
(1 Corinthians 14:28 KJV)  But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.
Some would say this applies only to the public expression of tongues, not as a prayer language.  Okay, I can see that.

If you made it through all of this you can see why speaking in tongues has the potential to cause both blessing and division.  This is one of those areas of belief where people must have charity on those who disagree.  Have your opinions.  Hold to them.  But do not excommunicate the person who disagrees with you.  God will straighten it out after the resurrection.

homo unius libri

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Opus 2011-79, Spiritual Gifts: Tongues, Part II, Four References

(1 Corinthians 12:10 KJV)  To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

The issue of what the gift of speaking in tongues means comes up in four categories.  I call them Controversial, Pentecost, Conversions and I Corinthians.

The controversial use is in one place.  By controversial I mean that it is in a place that many scholars find to be questionable.  I will leave that discussion for another day, but understand that in the Greek manuscripts there are at least three different endings to the Gospel of Mark.  One ending that is found in the KJV contains this verse:
(Mark 16:17 NASB)  "These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues;
This is the only place that Jesus refers to this gift.  This does not help in any way our understanding of the use of tongues.  All the discussions and disagreements apply.

Then we have the use of tongues at Pentecost.  This is found at the beginning of Acts 2.  When I read over this as a passage and don’t cherry pick verses and clauses that support a particular presupposition, I see that whatever happened, it was more a miracle of hearing than a miracle of speaking.  I might call it the gift of ears rather than the gift of tongues.  Notice that people from many different lands were together in the crowd, listening to the same people and each one heard in their own native language.  Awesome.  For this reason I personally reject the use of Pentecostal for the modern movement that stresses speaking in tongues.  I have not seen heard or read about anyone claiming this gift of ears.

Another thought I had about Pentecost was that this gift of tongues was the use of a universal language that is understood by everyone.  I would call it the language of angels from the next chapter.
(1 Corinthians 13:1 KJV)  Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
The “tongues of men” is an obvious statement.  What are the “tongues of angels?”  Let me speculate that this is a language, spoken by the angels, that is understood on an instinctual, built-in way by all human beings.  Sounds like science fiction, but so do angels.

What about the conversion experiences?  We have several places in Acts where new groups of people are being presented the Gospel and in the process it says they spoke in tongues.  It does not explain what that meant.  It can only be assumed that the people reading understood it.  In Acts 10:44 tells us that the group of Gentiles led by the centurion Cornelius began speaking in tongues.  It almost looks to me that they are speaking in tongues before they are converted.  They certainly are speaking in tongues before they are baptized.  And notice the response of those with Peter,
(Acts 10:45 NASB)  All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.
They were surprised that this happened, whatever it was.

That brings us to the Corinthians.  As the verse at the top of this post shows, speaking in tongues is listed as one of the gifts of the Spirit.  That much is clear.  No one who believes that the Bible is the word of God can deny that there is something called tongues that is a gift of the Holy Spirit.  Beyond that the arguments begin.  I would submit that what is presented in I Corinthians 12-14 is something different that what occurred in Acts.  That is for the next post.

homo unius libri

Friday, March 4, 2011

Opus 2011-78, Spiritual Gifts: Tongues, Part I, an Introduction

(1 Corinthians 12:10 KJV)  To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

Speaking in tongues has been a divisive issue in the Christian church for my entire life.  Denominations have been started based on this gift.  Others have been split.  The controversy is still alive and well.

It would be good to start with explaining what the gift is, but people cannot agree even on that.  The word for “tongues” is literal.  The Greek word is transliterated, glossa.  One of the technical names for speaking in tongues is “glossolalia.”  We get our English word “glossary” from this and we speak of “glossing” over something when we talk to camouflage a truth. 

Most of the references in the NT are to the physical tongue located in your mouth.  It becomes a bit figurative when it means “languages.”  This is also a common usage.  No one will argue about these references except the people that will argue about whether your eyes are hazel, green or brown.  The controversy comes in the other places it appears, which I will look at next time.

homo unius libri

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Opus 2011-77, New Terms: Scapegoat

I would like to recommend that the people of this country stop trying to make teachers the scapegoat for all that is wrong in our country.  Certain people can ignore what I have to say because they have the right to gripe.  If you have participated in a Tea Party rally, written your congressman in the past year, voted in all elections after carefully considering the issues involved and the records of the candidates, if you live within your means and didn’t try to buy a house you could not afford, in short, if you are a thinking, responsible, informed adult then this does not apply to you.  I often tell people, if they don’t vote, then don’t complain.

This should not be a new term but I find that many people don’t get out much.  The term comes from the Old Testament.  The first mention is in Leviticus 16:8.  Two goats were picked to be used in a ritual of atonement.  One goat was sacrificed on the altar.  The other had the sins of the people dumped on it and it was released into the wilderness.  It was the one that received the blame for the sins of others.  Thus a scapegoat is blamed for the failure of others.  Teachers make convenient scapegoats for the problems of society.

But let me share something with you, teachers did not appoint the federal judges that keep making a joke of our laws.  Teachers have never passed a federal budget.  Teachers have never set free criminals.  Teachers have never written EPA regulations.  Do you get the point?  Teachers are too incompetent to have done these things.  They are also too busy being nice.

Teachers as a whole are helpers, not radicals.  They are healers not warriors.  They are warm and fuzzy and just as uninformed as the general population.  Because they have been to college people expect them to be above the pack, but they are not.  That is why the union organizers have been so effective at organizing them.  Like their students, if it doesn’t hurt them right now, it is not a pain.  I was a union rep for our school for a few years.  Usually I was the only dissenting voice.  I finally gave up because the deck was so stacked and I was losing my hair because my head was being patted so much.  We had an issue that we voted on once.  I don’t remember what it was specifically but I was against it.  Our school voted against it in a simple majority type of way.  The elementary school across the street voted for it unanimously.  The worm in the apple is that the school across the street never sent a single rep to any meeting I was at.  They were simply a bunch of nice people doing what they were told.  They are typical of teachers.

Does this excuse teachers for their lack of leadership.  No.  It simply puts them in the same category as the rest of you.  The country has major issues.  We need to deal with them.  It will mean that every individual will need to bite the bullet.  It will require being responsible for our own lives and refusing to expect others to pay for our joy ride.  It means growing up.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Opus 2011-76, Political Correctness: A Lesson in Sexual Harassment

Recently, at out school we were given a lesson to cover in a weekly session called “Advisory.”  The topic was sexual harassment, an issue that is real and does need to be dealt with.  I am not sure that seventh grade is the place to do it, but no one is asking me.  My real problem was not with the subject but with the political correctness and obvious distortion that was going on in the process.

Let me start with the three part definition.

First it says that sexual harassment is sexual in nature.  Even public school administrators seem to be able to figure that out.  So far, so good.

Second, it is unwelcome;  The question I asked the students was, “If this young man asks this young lady out on a date, is it sexual harassment if she does not want to go?”  I could have also asked, “Is it sexual harassment if she says ‘no’ since that is an unwelcome response for the boy?”

Third, it “denies or limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from a school’s education program.”  I shared how when I was in junior high we took a shower at the end of P.E.  According to this definition it would be sexual harassment if they school did not let me take a shower with the girls.  I would have certainly considered that a benefit of the school’s education program.  This would also put campus construction and teachers’ absences as sexual harassment.

We can get as silly as we want but the point is the key to sexual harassment is repeated actions of a sexual nature in which the initiator has been told the advance is not welcome.  The definition given by the school has nothing to do with the real issue but it is wonderful for brainwashing purposes.

As they gave examples they continued the distortion.  An example of sexual harassment was “touching of a sexual nature.”  This is so broad that it is offensive.  Holding hands is sexual harassment?  Kissing my wife goodbye is sexual harassment?  Sheesh!

Another example is even broader, “talking about others’ body (sic) in a way that makes the person addressed feel uncomfortable.”  I have big feet, a big nose and wear glasses.  I am overweight and bald.  I work with seventh graders.  This would make a large part of their comments sexual harassment.  This is insane.  This is typical of modern education.  If I am at a baseball game and I tell the nutcase in front of me to sit down, this would be sexual harassment. 

The source of this nonsense is given as  I don’t know how much you know about the internet but if this were a bibliographical reference given to me by one of my seventh graders, I would reject it.  If this were an example of research I would question the thinking that went behind it.

This is your tax dollars at work. 

homo unius libri

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Opus 2011-75, On the Street: Dumbing Down the Church

The other day I watched a bus make a turn and on the side was printed the word, “Justification.”  It was an ad for a movie and I am reasonably sure it was not a movie about theology.  “Justification” is a big word.  What if people did not understand what it meant?

Have you ever been around someone who says that we have to make the vocabulary of the Bible simpler so people can understand it.  We don’t want to use words like justification, sanctification, atonement, propitiation or depravity.  People don’t understand those words, or so we are told.  Evidently the producers of the movie did not get that memo. 

We should not be afraid to use words that have meaning.  People can learn.  They can grow.  It is our job to give them truth.

homo unius libri