One other thing this weekend ...

I have the blog back to showing the last 14 posts to drive you all completely insane while the page loads, but then there's no confusion over whether I removed posts or not. The 15th one drops off.

Pheh. Safari times out when it tries to render 14 headlines, so we're going back to the last 5 or 7 posts on the front page, and you'll have to search archives to get the good stuff that falls of the front page.

Meet Slicey

There's a fellow calling himself (or maybe it's a woman calling herself) "Slicey" in the meta, and yesterday I clowned Slicey for saying this:
Your Cartesian understanding of knowledge, and lack of recognizing your own pre-understanding was my point.
Which, I think, long-time readers of this blog will find especially amusing. However, Slicey isn't happy about being clowned:
Tell me what it means before you "clown me." Because you don't understand something don't resort to a graphic.
Let's hang on a minute here -- because the irony is pretty delicious. Slicey -- who has called the poster video "cartesian" in presupposition -- wants me to explain the category "clown" to him/her before I apply it. I should be more rational, apparently, rather than intuitive.

I'll wait for you to stop laughing before we go on.

You OK now? good.

See -- Slicey doesn't think I know what he/she means when he/she calls me "Cartesian", and ... well, he/she tells it so well:
Typical evangelical.
Which, of course, is not a label, right? Just an obvious fact based on evidence. Nothing "cartesian" about that -- that's not a wholly-westernized criticism based on Enlightenment-style classifications. That's just the truth in love, I am sure. We'll get back to that in a minute.
Call someone a "liberal" or the like then you don't have to listen to ANYTHING they have to say.
Now, here's what's interesting: I didn't call Slicey a "liberal": I called Slicey a "clown" -- in fact, I used the "angry clown" gravatar, not the "happy clown" avatar to make my point more pointy. So if Slicey wants to kvetch about "cartesian understanding of knowledge", maybe he/she should check his/her own epistemological Brita filter before coming here and getting all allegedly-informed on me.
It's like there is a chess game and by labeling you wipe their pieces off the board before the game begins.
Which, if we review the meta, the first person to start assigning labels was ... Slicey. To make full disclosure here, this is what the exhange looked like:
These posters were difficult to read spread out over time on Pyro. To see them so quickly together...the narrow world-view, the arrogance, it is difficult for those that recognize (sort-of with some help!) their own pre-understandings and biases that they come to the text with.

Descartes would be so proud of your grasp at knowledge. YHWH on the other hand...
Slicey | Homepage | 09.28.07 - 4:15 am | #


BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh brother -- that's the best joke of all, dude! It's an offense to God to say that the Emergent guys are unorthodox in their theology and adolescent in their ability to interact with those they disagree with!

Oh man -- whooh! That's better than coffee at 6:30 AM ...

... oh wait -- I just read your blog, dude. That's a shame. It's too bad you're serious.
centuri0n | Homepage | 09.28.07 - 6:35 am | #

I never said it was an affront to God to say stuff about Emergents. Stuff needs to be said about Emergents.

Your Cartesian understanding of knowledge, and lack of recognizing your own pre-understanding was my point.
Slicey | 09.28.07 - 3:45 pm | #
At which point I clowned Slicey and said, "'cartesian understanding of knowledge'? That is the dumbest thing I ever read, dude. Take your clowning like a man."

So as we consider who broke out the Enlightenment Dymo labeler and started tagging things with categories in order to dismiss them, poor Slicey was the one who thought labels would clear things up for the rest of us. Especially in God's eyes.

For the record, Slicey, you got clowned for being self-controdictory and more smug than informed. One of the reasons for that would be a conversation I had with Tim Enloe about two years ago in which he accused me of the same thing, and I told him that, in the first place, I wasn't a dualist; in the second place, Descartes' "cogito ergo sum", in spite of his good intentions, was and is a form of idolatry which places experience before divine revelation. It's humanism, as you would agree, I am sure -- but in that, it violates the precepts of Romans 1:18-end, replacing God as the cornerstone of how we know anything.

But let's be clear about something -- it's your position, Slicey, that labeling things is an enlightenment task betraying Enlightenment epistemological presuppositions. The problem is that God is a covenant God, and He sets aside Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob -- He in fact gave a name to Abraham and Israel to set them apart for all time. It's funny how God makes such a big deal about setting apart Israel but that act somehow gets lost in the eyes of people who want to be more Eastern or more into context. It is in that way, by that method of separating our work from His, which God tells us what is true about Himself.

That's not an Enlightenment view of things: that's the Old Testament view of things, which predates Descartes by two millennia.

So you get clowned for buying into a Chomskyite reduction of western civilization, and not being half as concerned with a God-centered view of the mind and reason as you like to think you have.

If you need more detail there, we can probably cover another 1,000 words on the subject before its get mind-numbingly boring and all my readers have slid off to cut grass or whatever.

It's your site, do what you want, "clown me" if you must. I'm still fairly certain though that if there might be people reading this that understand the term Cartesian, they will see you don't even begin to understand what I meant, because I used a term you didn't recognize, and inadvertently clowned yourself by trying to cut me off with something so shallow.
Aha. I didn't clown you: I clowned me. I didn't realize that you're rubber and I'm glue -- because if I did recognize those categories, I would have ended my comments with "double jinx infinity -- no takebacks!"

You got clowned for doing the thing you say is bad, Slicey. You got clowned for trying to fish the mote in my eye out with your half-informed, self-congratulatory stage-prop-sized powder puff rather than something which will actually accomplish the job -- and you hit yourself in the face with it, and got mad at me for laughing.

Stop hitting yourself, dude. You don't want me to laugh? Stop hitting yourself.

Not Friel

You people make me crazy. The guy I'm responding to is Todd, but -not- Todd Friel. Hence the Title, "Not Friel".

Don't send any more e-mails.

WOW BIG UPDATE: Had an e-mail exchange with Todd, and without divulging anything private or confidential, go easy on Todd -- he's not a troll.

Just a few preliminary notes as we open up Todd's comments here. The first, which I think is obvious to anyone reading Todd's view of what Dr. Aikman wrote, is that it seems that Todd hasn't actually read much of the blogosphere. And let's be serious: it's not a very reputable place. Who can blame him if he's not reading it? It's like blaming him for not reading the vast output of vanity presses globally - who has that kind of time and patience and intestinal fortitude?

But in that, many of Todd's rejoiners on behalf of Dr. Aikman reflect a pretty shallow understanding of what is happening in the blogosphere. So while I don't blame him for not being a blog reader, I think I find it a little weird that he wants to make distinctions in a genre or media (or however you classify the blog-bandwidth) which he doesn't know that much about. It doesn't hardly take apart his argument to say that, but if I started trying to distinguish between types of short-haired domestic cats, and I had never really seen any such cats, I'll bet my categories would be somewhat suspect.

The second, which is about to supplant "like ministry" as an idiom in popular arguments, is the confiscation of the term "gracious" by people who really just want to escape or deflect criticism. "If you were more gracious, I'd talk to you about my inability to formulate a reasonable syllogism about my position, or I'd be willing to discuss whether I have ever seen a fact or have mine straight. But you and your ilk are ungracious, and since we worship a God of Grace, you must be bad guys."

We worship this God who is an interesting fellow, if we can say that without being disrespectful. He has these people who are sinful rebels, and he doesn't wait for them to show some grace before He pours it out by the bloody pint (literally): He pours it out by speaking to them, and staying on subject, and putting them right by verbal correction, and not trying to coax them a little with a kind word but says things plainly and in the way He means them. And He pours it out at the cross in a way which is an offense to the world.

So if you have the market cornered on Grace, speak to me the way a gracious God speaks to us -- and don't run away like all the phony prophets and all the hypocritical religious leaders have always done throughout the history of man's relationship to God.

The last thing I'd preface this reply with is that one ought to engage what is said and not what one thinks will win the argument. That happens over and over in Todd's comments, and it doesn't help him any.

So with that, here we go:

|| You're a hard guy to find when
|| someone makes a comment you
|| find difficult to reply to. I
|| didn't want to miss you again
|| and here is something that
|| should be useful to you.

Gummby returned that serve already, but given that I'm just a guy with a blog and some somewhat-famous friends, I'm probably in the top-25 people in the blogosphere you can find without really putting yourself out. The next time you want to find me, come to this blog and leave a comment in any thread, or else e-mail me as I have already given you the link to do so. That link is also in the header, above.

|| Hope this script makes the
|| trip from my word processor to
|| here in good form.

Yes -- it seems to have turned out fine.

|| On the day Christianity
|| Today's on-line newsletter hit
|| my emailbox, I read the essay
|| by Dr. Aikman and upon
|| finishing it I was commenting
|| over at your post on your
|| reply to his article. I think
|| you were the first link
|| underneath the article so you
|| got the visit.

I had actually posted the reply prior to CT making the essay a web article; I read it by accident in CT print, and it sort of annoyed me because it was a little condescending and a little misrepresentative of what is and was going on in our little corner of the intellectual and theological outlet mall.

So it must be providence that you found my link.

|| I saw that the
|| discussion had ended a few
|| weeks earlier but commented
|| for the record anyway. I
|| checked back for over a week
|| and saw you elected not to
|| return comment.

As I noted in my reply to you, one of the reasons I hate the built-in Blogger comment system is that it doesn't have a very clean way of keeping track of when a past thread has new comments. You either have to get every comment in via e-mail (which I loathe -- no offense to anyone, but it's worse than spam), or nothing. The drawback of Haloscan (which I use here at the FoF blog) is that it has a max length per post (which is a mixed blessing); but I get a control panel where comments are listed by the newest comment first -- and when a long-dead thread gets a passer-by, I can notice that person effectively.

So in your zealousness to get re-noticed, consider that the world was not waiting for your entry into the blogosphere, and it is uncommon for most bloggers to bother with old threads. Again, consider it providence that I found your comment. I think I got elected to find it.

|| I thought that
|| was only to be expected
|| because the conversation had
|| run itself out there.

This add-on, btw, is why I come across pretty hard on your little quip, above. You "expected" the conversation to be "run out" but I "elected" to ignore you.

I guess I have to ask: was the conversation dying out because I was ignoring all the people who responded, or was it dying out because nobody was responding anymore? If it's the latter, it's a little, um, lopsided to say that I was 'electing' not to respond to you.

|| Then the
|| other night I was cleaning out
|| my bookmarks and saw that you
|| finally had commented.
|| Thanks for summing up your
|| response in your own words
|| with these three statements:
|| 1)"My complaint is that Dr.
|| Aikman's essay is itself of
|| the type of criticism he's
|| complaining about - so if that
|| type of criticism is not
|| valid, then Dr. Aikman's essay
|| is not a valid complaint."

Before we go through what you say "sums up" my comments, I just want to make sure the readers actually read my comments in order to make their own comparison.

But I would stand by that in spite of your rejoiner, below. What Dr. Aikman did was compare concerns about Joel Osteen's dangerous theological vacuousness to people who think that, in spite of the KJV's translators' confession that they did fallible work, the KJV is the only valid translation in English.

That's intellectual hooliganism -- and oddly, it's the kind of hooliganism Dr. Aikman thinks there ought to be less of. So how do we take his complaint seriously? We will see, below, that we can't.

|| 2)"What he did, Todd, was to
|| say that criticism of Joel
|| Osteen is as baseless as KJVO
|| bibliology."

Exactly. I even showed you where he did it.

|| 3)"You equate criticizing Joel
|| Osteen with KJVO enthusiasm -
|| trying, I guess, to
|| demonstrate how backwards and
|| uninformed these opinions must
|| be."

Exactly. Now, seriously: Dr. Aikman's point -- I think we can agree that it's Dr. Aikman's point -- is that there is a kind of rhetoric which is frankly unproductive. Nobody listens to it, and nobody is changed by it. Fair enough, right?

But if one tries to make that point by classifying all blog criticism of American Christianity in the same bucket, one has in fact done what one is allegedly criticizing.

Here's the litmus test: Is Ken KJVO? No? Then how does he classify as part of "these sites" where "mixed swimming" is a topic of heated discussion?

|| Your first complaint is no
|| complaint and Dr. Aikman's
|| criticsim is still valid
|| because it is a different
|| "type"_of criticism than the
|| type of criticism he's
|| referring to.

It's not at all. Dr. Aikman clearly says:

It is easy to laugh at these websites, which feature subheads like "Mixed Swimming" (dangerous, of course) and "Bible Guidelines for Clothing." Often these sites seem convinced that every translation of the Bible done after the King James Version is a step toward apostasy.
"these websites" are the sites which call Osteen a viper, and they are then the sites which Dr. Aikman says are also convinced that no translation but KJV is orthodox.

That's called poisoning the well. It's not unfair criticism: it's trying to make the guilt of one kind of error get in the reader's view of something one thinks is equally reprehensible. That's not even polemics: it's called "lying" in some circles, but I have refrained from using that word so far in order to keep things from going to verbal body-checks into the glass. The fans like that stuff, but it will, of course, make Dr. Aikman tune out because he thinks he's above that. As do you.

But until you can prove Ken is KJVO, that's what it is: a fudge, an excessive overstatement, a misrememberance, a failure of fact-checkers. Or if it was intentional and meant to make Ken look bad, a lie.

|| What type of criticsim is Dr.
|| Aikman referring to in his
|| essay? He says:Criticism
|| "drenched in sarcasm and
|| animosity", "not reasoned or
|| modestly couched criticism,
|| but blasts of ire determined
|| to discredit beyond redemption
|| the targets of the criticism

Yes -- think about that underlined part.

|| And Aikman describes those
|| critics as people who are
|| "deeply intolerant of
|| criticism
". Criticism to the
|| detriment of other listenier
|| who "might be permanently
|| disillusioned" by it. He
|| described the type of
|| criticism he's referring to.

I agree -- that's the kind he's trying to disavow, but that's the kind he make here. Check that underlined part again -- is it reasonable to lump Ken Silva in with KJVO cultists?

If not, what kind of criticism has Dr. Aikman given here?

|| Nowhere in Aikman's essay is
|| there that sort of criticism.

Really? Wow -- I think, as I said before, you better go re-read (or maybe read once) his actual essay. Here's the section where he gives up the ghost:
The angriest websites are those belonging to small, but disturbingly visible, fundamentalist Protestant groups outraged that fellow Protestants appear to be holding out a welcoming hand to Catholics or Orthodox Christians.

Leading the charge against alleged ecumenists is Apprising Ministries (AM), a New Hampshire-based group whose leader is Southern Baptist pastor Ken Silva. ...

Somewhat less intemperate, but scarcely less hard-hitting, is Way of Life Literature, whose website features books with titles like Billy Graham and Rome, The Pentecostal and Charismatic Movement, and Contemporary Christian Music. ...

It is easy to laugh at these websites, which feature subheads like "Mixed Swimming" (dangerous, of course) and "Bible Guidelines for Clothing." Often these sites seem convinced that every translation of the Bible done after the King James Version is a step toward apostasy.
Now, notice my elipses. I have here intentionally omitted some parts of the text -- but those part don't vindicate Dr. Aikman in any way. They are his enumerations of the litany of complaints from the various watch-dogs.

They are, sadly, "easy to laugh at" because they are moralistic and afraid of English translations not the KJV. Well, Ken's not. If he's not, who's been sarcastic and unfair toward him? Me?

Yeah, prolly not. I've been sarcastic toward you, but you're the one who said you wanted more detail and more response. When you order from the take-out window, you're going to get fries with that.

|| Dr. Aikman believes, like
|| many, that there are different
|| types of criticism. Saying so
|| right here:
|| "By all means criticize fellow
|| Christians if necessary, but
|| do so with grace."

One of the really decent things I did toward Dr. Aikman in my original post was to say, "I realize that you had space restrictions and a word-count to abide by, so making an encyclopedia entry for the various phyla and species of 'attack dogs' and their arguments was not in the scope of your work here." But the question is not "should he has said more?" The question is, "is saying what he said the kind of criticism he has abhorred?"

It is. He is frankly-unfair to Ken, and groups him in with people Ken would not endorse or find appealing. And in that, there needs to be a double-take on what Dr. Aikman is advancing here.

Let me suggest something which I have not suggested before, and I do so only to see where you will take it. One of the crater-sized targets for "watchblog" scorn is the somewhat-flakey magazine flagship Christianity Today itself -- the platform Dr. Aikman used to deliver his opinion. What he dexterously avoids is noting that CT receives a great deal of flack over its change in content from foundationally-evangelical, theologically-reformed content to something a bit more, um, not. It has adopted a sociological view of the term "Christianity" in place of a view which says that following Christ means something other than buying a magazine at a Christian bookstore along side the rack of plastic trash, and that view draws watchblog criticism.

So in that, what Dr. Aikman has done here is shilled for the current practices of CT -- without any disclaimer. So if he has really mislabeled Ken, and if he did it in a context where his publisher benefits if Ken is discredited, I wonder: where's the grace in that? Is that what you're talking about when you plaster the "graciously" bumper sticker on the end of your comment?

|| There is a whole range of
|| types of criticism. From
|| criticism lacking in grace(and
|| potentially even a lot more),
|| to criticism done with grace.

See above. In fact, see my original criticism. What you're writing here is simply ignoring almost everything associated with my original critique and my original essay, and Aikman's original essay.

|| Aikman's own criticism made
|| during his essay is of a
|| different type than he's
|| referring to in his essay. Not
|| as you say. We look at your
|| next two complaints for the
|| explanation.

Not hardly -- and repeating that it does is simply ignoring criticism, not refuting it.

|| 2)"What he did, Todd, was to
|| say that criticism of Joel
|| Osteen is as baseless as KJVO
|| bibliology"
|| Aikman never even said
|| criticism of Olsteen is
|| baseless. I'm betting he
|| wouldn't be opposed to
|| offering Joel Olsteen his own
|| helpful criticism.

He calls the opposition to ecumenism "disturbing", calls Osteen an "alleged ecumenist", and calls Ken's site (with others) "laughable".

Does he say, "Criticism of Osteen is baseless"? Not hardly. Does he imply that those who oppose ecumenism are wrong or wrong-headed? Read the essay yourself and think about it for a while -- especially when you measure that against CT's on-going infatuation with the pastor of the Compaq Center. However, you cannot glean in the least from this essay that Dr. Aikman thinks any of the subjects of criticism should be criticized at all. Even the one sentence you have cited, above, does not indicate that Billy Graham or Robert Schuller should be subject to criticism.

|| 3)""You equate criticizing
|| Joel Osteen with KJVO
|| enthusiasm - trying, I guess,
|| to demonstrate how backwards
|| and uninformed these opinions
|| must be."
|| Really? He never faults
|| criticising Olsteen, and never
|| mentions "KJVO enthusiasm".

This is one place where Todd's novice status in the blogosphere, and in apologetics, really sticks out.

What is "KJVO enthusiasm", Todd? Does the "O" there mean anything? I could have called it "quackery" rather than "enthusiasm", but I was trying to keep the post from going into strange and uncharted lands of hijacking from Riplingerites and Ruckmanites.

He clearly faults the sites he is criticizing as being KJVO advocates, and he plainly disdains the criticism of Osteen -- and he does so by saying, in effect, "these sites do both of these things, and it's laughable".

Do you think someone who thinks the positions he's reproaching have some merit would call those positions "laughable"? If so, I'll say it: your position is completely laughable. It should be a badge of honor to you.

|| Those are two arguements you
|| had to manufacture Frank.

See above.

|| Incidentally, it is truly an
|| insult to say "it takes one to
|| know one, naa naa..." as you
|| in effect said to Aikman by
|| erroneously remanufacturing
|| his arguements. Thanks for
|| picking up on that Frank.

The problem is that I didn't say that at all -- and my clarification in my second post on this subject works that out for you. Please engage that.

|| But what criticism of Joel
|| Olsteen is Dr. Aikman citing?
|| His essay says this:
|| "Leading the charge against
|| alleged ecumenists is
|| Apprising Ministries (AM), a
|| New Hampshire-based group
|| whose leader is Southern
|| Baptist pastor Ken Silva. Rick
|| Warren, according to AM, is a
|| "milquetoast." Schuller and
|| the late Norman Vincent Peale
|| are "the_devil's duo." Richard
|| Foster (a leading Quaker
|| writer on Christian
|| spirituality), Brian McLaren
|| (a leader in the emerging
|| church movement), and Joel
|| Osteen (pastor of Lakewood
|| Church in Houston) are "vipers
|| of new evangelicalism" and
|| "whitewashed" tombs."
|| Buried in this paragraph is
|| the reference you cited to
|| Joel Olsteen as a "viper", or
|| in Christian dialogue you
|| might as well say "satan".
|| Aikman is suggesting that this
|| is not merely criticism, but
|| unfruitful or graceless
|| criticism. It almost shouldn't
|| have the dignity of being
|| called criticism. And there is
|| no reference here to any KJVO
|| enthusiasts or even the more
|| fringe KJVO mindset which he
|| refers to later in a
|| completely different context.

If you think, as you try to work out below, that "these websites" are not the same sites as the two mentioned by name, not the same group of sites, there's no sense in arguing with you. What you need is a review of the usage in English of the demonstrative pronoun "this", and its plural "these".

|| It is awhile before Aikman
|| mentions the fringe KJVO
|| folks.

He mentions them as "these websites". The antecedent of "these" are the sites he has already mentioned. That's how the English language works.

|| Dr. Aikman moves on to other
|| literature, websites and
|| personalities, in the same
|| context_of viewing criticism,
|| and as he leaves a section on
|| Pat Robertson and the Elliots
|| and moves on to a new
|| paragraph, he gets to "these
|| websites". He names these
|| wesites and says, "these sites
|| seem convinced that every
|| translation of the Bible done
|| after the King James Version
|| is a step toward apostasy."
|| What's he talking about Frank?
|| Yes, these websites,_"Mixed
|| Swimming" and ect.,.

There's nothing nice to say about your method of reading here, Todd. It's simply fraudulent. "These" is a pronoun; a pronoun requires an antecedent in English. The antecedents for the plural "these" here are AM and Way of Life Literature.

That's not really debatable. It's a fact of grammar.

|| He makes no mention of any
|| KJVO enthusiasts-unless you
|| are into using euphemisms.
|| Which I'm not.

So I should just call KJVO guys "cultists"? Where the civility there, dude? Or is that the really false stuff, which ought to be criticized, and then when we get to Osteen we should try to rationalize whether or not a wealth-and-prosperity Gospel is what Jesus died on the cross for?

And if the KJVO guys are cultists, what has Dr. Aikman said about Ken again?

|| So what's this about these
|| KJVO enthusiasts you're
|| complaining about?
|| I am a NASVO enthusiast. O.k.?

I doubt it -- that is, I doubt you think people should only use the NASB, or that the NASB is the only translation in English which does not create apostasy.

This is, again, part of your own newness in this territory -- I hesitate to call it "ignorance" because you will undoubtedly take that as an insult. You're not NASVO -- you just prefer the NASV. You might do so enthusiastically. However, I doubt you would say anyone who doesn't use NASV is probably going to hell for altering God's word.

And in that, you don't break any new ground in the rest of your response here, so the only reason to post it is for posterity's sake.

You can do that at your own blog. I can e-mail it to you if you need it.

Note to Ingrid

Check out before you get too far over losing your website contents. It looks like most of it is there.

Keep the Change, dude

Very revealing dialog about immorality in Senate hearings today.

I say impeach Harkin for violating his oath of office. This is what he swore:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
I want you to think about that underlined part: what Harkin proposes in this story is changing the definition of domestic enemies.

Saying it might be right to do it is probably not impeachable -- actually doing it would be impeachable. Unless he wants to change the oath of office, too -- which would be part for the course, I guess.

Pomotivators -- the Video

This'll go up on the TeamPyro site later this week, but here's the music video for the Pomotovator posters.

Apologies to Elvis Costello, Declan McManus, and all other aliases bound to be frownie-faced over this.

I really hate Andrew Sullivan

But can't deny that this is one of the best pieces on the current election cycle this year.

The Next MegaChurch

What a great idea for a pre-mil church site.

My New Pet Peeve

I got this e-mail this morning:
How Pursuing God Trumps the Pursuit of Riches - Every Time!
7 Ancient Paths to Wealth, Wisdom & the Wonder of God

“But God” I asked, “How am I ever going to get out of this financial hole?”
“Pursue Me”, the Lord responded simply.

“But God, I thought I had been doing that and look at the difficulty I’m in now. What do you mean, ‘Pursue Me’?”

“Pursue Me” the Lord answered again.

I was frustrated. I wanted a list of things to do. God wanted me.

“But how do I pursue You? I obviously haven’t been doing that very well. Would you please explain that?”

The Lord answered a third and final time with an authority I knew not to question further. “Pursue ME.”

With That, I Purposed to Rise Each Morning and Pursue God like Never Before
My wife and I had just returned from Guatemala where we had the best and worst experience of our life. The best because of the harvest of souls and seeing God manifest Himself mightily and the worst because we took a terrible financial beating.

I was in desperate need of answers and all God would tell me is to pursue Him. If that’s all He tells you, you best be doing it! For me, it meant abandoning my idea of twenty minutes of quiet time each day. Instead, I would read my Bible and pray - until… Until His presence showed up and until, that same presence lifted. I found out that He was always glad to meet me in the morning and never in a hurry to leave. My quiet times were never less than an hour, usually lasted for two or three hours and it was not rare for it to go four or five hours. If God showed up, I was not about to leave.

We had only $300 cash…
Our credit line was exhausted and there was no more room on our credit cards. With no work lined up, we were in desperate straits. The first thing God dealt with me on was covetousness. The sin Paul compares to idolatry. Not very pretty. I was stricken with grief and the first thing we did was take the $300 we had left and wired it to a widow and orphan we had met in Guatemala.

Within days, God had impressed upon folks to help us out with some cash and we went to Dallas where we met with Chuck Pierce for breakfast. His prophetic word for us was one of the goads we stood upon to climb out of the pit. Then an old friend called from Canada announcing that he had been praying and the Holy Spirit told him to contact me. He wanted some business counsel and asked my fee. I told him if the Holy Spirit told him to call, He could also tell him what to pay. He received my counsel and as it turns out, God was quite generous.

As I kept pursuing God, He kept revealing mysteries to me.
While I pursued Him and grew in Him, He also brought me a steady stream of unbelievable opportunities for book deals, television production, favor with national ministries, etc and a steady, growing stream of professional clients. It has been 13 years and the stream has never shut off and I’ve never had to look for another client or opportunity since. I quit trying to be the rainmaker and simply followed the cloud of God and became a professional raincatcher and it has made all the difference!

Perhaps the most profound mystery I learned during this season was from the Tabernacle of Moses. I had always seen it as a foreshadowing of God’s plan of salvation but now I learned to glean additional lessons from that sacred pattern that could be applied to business or life in general.

What I discovered liberated me from performance-driven behavior and left me seated at the feet of Jesus being taught by God through His Word how to profit (among other things) using seven powerful lessons from the Tabernacle of Moses to poll vault me further than I had ever gone in the world of business. Just one of the lessons, The Power of the Threefold Blessing revealed throughout Scripture will open your eyes to dimensions you may never have dreamed possible.

If you are tired of chasing riches…
If you want to be through only seeing them take flight like an eagle (Proverbs 23:5) and would rather chase after God and learn how to let Him add everything you need to your life, I invite you to examine closely this special teaching, The RainCatcher’s Secret - 7 Ancient Paths to Wealth, Wisdom and the Wonder of God. It can revolutionize your life. It did mine!

Also, I'm giving away these CDs to the first 500 people who order the downloadable (MP3) version. Click here to check it out.


Michael Q. Pink, Founder
Selling Among Wolves, LLC

P.S. One more important thing:

As a subscriber to our e-mails, I wanted you to have the first chance to see this. Next week, we're expecting hundreds of thousands of people to see this information. So go take a look right now! The first 500 people who order the download are the ones who will receive the CDs free!
If the link in the above post doesn't work, try this one.

I have exchanged e-mails with Mr. Pink, and he's utterly convinced that he's not peddling a health and prosperity theology.


The Record

I love it that there's a public record of what famous people have said. Read this about a global "ice age" and then get some sleep over climate change.


Great post at the New Attitude blog.

The PodCast void

I read about this list of podcasts at CT over at Justin Taylor's blog, and I was sort of horrified by it.No other comments are necessary, but I know you're all dying to say something.

The Solution

Those of you who are sort of over-involved in the internet (let's face it – I am) have notices the evolution of the right-side saidebar, and I've amp'd up some of the slogans with better graphics.

But I wonder if I've spent enough time working out all the attributes of the top slogan, coined by my pastor – "The Gospel is the Solution to Culture." As a sort of intro or preface to working that out in detail, let me point you at this little gem by Presbyterian malcontent Doug Wilson. It's not everything I'd say on the subject, and there are parts which I would prolly not affirm completely, but it's a good place to start.

Missional Irony

Working the bookstore this weekend. A local church is using the Message (yeah, don't start) for some devotional project, and on the one hand, MSG comes in a really affordable paperback for about $ 5.99. On the other hand, you can't get all 66 books in one decent binding for under $30 -- and to get one where you don't need a Microfiche reader, you're talking $40 or better.

All I'm sayin' is that you can get all kinds of other translations -- which are translation and not one guy's opinion -- for something approaching affordable. If somebody wants to be "missional", they should consider that great retail missionary "WAL*MART" for pricing strategies.

On removing posts

It's funny, but when I have Blogger set up to drop the 15th-oldest post, and it falls off, nobody notices -- no matter how incendiary it is. I have blogger set to drop the 3rd-oldest post, and suddenly I'm doing what all disreputable bloggers do: I'm revising history or shame-facedly and without comment removing something I am allegedly ashamed of.

Here's a tip for people who think they know something about their favorite bloggers: use your favorite search engine to discover how often they have offered up the following phrases --

"I apologize"
"I'm Sorry"
"I was wrong"

It will be very instructive to you about how they deal with their own alleged sobriety of thinking and circumspection.

This is reported to be Captain Drama, but it's only a copycat from a non-denominational summer stock troupe:

For the record, here's my favorite candid photo of Captain Drama:

Notice how it's impossible to tell if he's wearing a mask to cover his own horrible disfigurement thereby giving him a smooth porceline exterior, or if the mask he's wearing is scarier than what's actually underneath.

However, never let it be said that he doesn't have a lovely singing voice. He always brings down the house.

A perfect example

I ran into this little story about a boy named "Zeno", and I'm wondering: with 6 billion plus people in the world, is the problem really that there aren't enough people for each of us to have a companion?

Talk about a mission field. If "Zeno" seems like a good idea, maybe we should be thinking about "why".

The New Biggest Thing

The presbyterians are really going mad over them, and I have to thank faithful reader Martin Downes for the idea.

A-hem ...

OK -- let's call this the unofficial end of the Hiatus.

I'd like to go on-record to tell Michael Spencer that the day he is willing to finish any conversation publicly which he himself begins -- or enters -- publicly is the day he can start pointing fingers at guys like Justin Taylor for being somehow bad guys. Captain Drama and his sidekicks at BHT are almost as ironic and self-parodying as the EC guys who were trying to tell Phil how vile his Emergent-See posters were.

It's nice to be back.

Market Slump

Apparently they didn't know how to do anything else. Or maybe the start-up costs were lower than opening a Christian Bookstore.

The Mint and the Cumin

e-mail box things

As hard as I have tried to unsubscribe to the mailings, they keep coming to my e-mail box. That's annoying, but it's hardly a crime – at least they aren't pushing Viagra or Cialis on me, which I would like to point out is at least mildly insulting.

Anyway, their recent mailing pointed me to two article, the first one being the one which prompted my last blog entry, and the other one being this entry in Jeremy Harrison's blog which links to this essay by Noah Knox. I have PDF'd Knox's essay for the sake of my readers because I think Harrison is going to delink it eventually, and we don't want to miss any context here.

There's one thing that continually aggravates me about they are frankly very fond of money. Now, don't get me wrong – I like payday. I like paying all my bills. I see that as God's provision for me and my family. I like capitalism and I think that capitalism has done some fine things for the world.

But my first prefatory comment on this matter would be that capitalism is not a partner with Jesus Christ. That is, Jesus doesn’t need capitalism to save men; capitalism isn't doing the work of the cross. And it's important to realize that capitalism is also not a function of Christianity. While it may borrow some tenets of Christian ethics – like just compensation and binding contracts – it is hardly an essentially-Christian method of economics.

And the boys at miss this point pretty regularly – so much so that I have had an e-mail exchange with one of its mail-reading guys in which we discussed whether or not they are endorsing some kind of prosperity gospel or some aberrant form of theonomy. They vehemently deny this, which is fine (who would agree that they are advancing a prosperity gospel?) – but then we get the discussion they have posted today on taxes.

Listen: who likes high taxes? Nobody likes high taxes, right? Nobody's volunteering to pony up an extra 5% out of lunatic patriotism or the strong belief that the government does a great job of spending money, right? Nobody like taxes.

But can we transfer that grumbly feeling we get when we have to write a check to Uncle Sam into a theological premise?

Noah Knox is trying to do that exactly – and he starts with the idea that taxes should not be higher than "tithing". It's actually an elegant little Presbyterian-looking argument that which says that taxes are an exercise of sovereignty, and God's tax is the tithe, so any tax higher than the tithe is an attempt to be more sovereign than God – becoming de facto idolatry.

Yeah, I know – it has a sort of charming intellectual feel to it. But the problem is that the foundational verse of Scripture on whether we should pay taxes or not is made by Christ in reference to a government which overtly and consciously affirms its religious, theological place in the lives of people. When Christ saith, "render unto Caesar," (because that verse only makes sense in KJV English)(and this is Mat 22 for those who require the chapter and verse for the sake of being Berean) He is saying, "this guy who calls himself a god, you give him what he asks for, and it's not idolatry."

But interestingly, Jesus didn’t stop there. He also said in that same place, "and unto God the things that are God's." That is, "If the government which issues money demands a tax, pay the tax – but don't make paying the tax about whether or not you're being faithful to God."

Jesus is saying plainly to the Pharisees that there's no idolatry in paying taxes, but there may be idolatry in making money more important than obedience. Let's read the whole exchange together just for good measure:
    Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?"
Let's hold on a second there because here are two very important matters at stake. The first is whether or not the purpose the Pharisees and the Herodians had in asking a question to Christ was honest – and the Scripture says, "no: they were trying to find fault with Him. They were trying to make Him say something they could hold against Him." So the context here is that men who deny that Jesus is Christ, and are frankly blaspheming by their unbelief, are putting the Son of God to the test.

But a second point is also critical: when they ask Jesus if it is "lawful" to pay taxes, they are asking Him an explicitly jewish and religious question. That is, they are asking Him if it is a sin against God to pay taxes to Caesar who proclaims Himself to be the king of God's people and the god of the Empire. Is it Mosaic-lawful to pay tribute to a pagan god-king who is occupying the city of David?

If that's the question, here's the answer:
    But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, "Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax." And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" They said, "Caesar’s." Then he said to them, "Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s." When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.
One of the clear points Christ is making here is that these men don't know the difference between civil duty and the love of God. The coin is Caesar's coin, with Caesar's face on it – and Caesar wants it back, so Christ says, "well, give it to him."

For Christ, it was a sin to make the money the question – because frankly, God didn’t invent money: man did. You guys are creationists – look it up. On the 8th day, God didn’t say, "aw darnit: I forgot banks. Let there be financial institutions to process the coins of the realm ... dangit, let there be coins and precious metals by which these little nippers can have an economy, and let there be banks to put them in." Certainly, where your treasure is there shall your heart be also. But where were the Pharisees putting their money? Were they mad because the Government was stopping them from helping the poor, or were they mad because Caesar was cutting into their bankroll and they couldn’t buy this year's Phylacteries for mad-cash (because we all know it's a sin to buy on credit, right?)?

So the problem with taxes is not that they are levied: it is that you don't want to pay them for selfish reasons. You want to put obedience under profit. It was ugly in Christ's day, and it's even uglier today when the least of us pays more in taxes than any of the Pharisees took home in a year, and we get to keep what is frankly an opulent and wildly-prosperous amount after taxes.

And I'm sure somebody's going to object to this, but I say "bring it." Your view of money is too jaded, and your view of God is too materialistic.

Theological point-missing

I got wind of this story via e-mail, but somebody in Kenya wants to nullify the conviction of Christ and His crucifixion.

I think, maybe, these people need to find some new hobbies. Wow.

Sam Storms & Church Discipline

Same Storms has a great piece on church discipline today via his weekly newsletter (you may have to register to read his essay in full). It includes gems like this:
So, secondly, why is discipline necessary? To be brief, there are several reasons: (1) to maintain (as far as possible) the purity of the church (1 Cor. 3:17; Eph. 5:25-27); (2) because Scripture requires it (Mt. 18:15-20; 1 Cor. 5; etc.); (3) in order to maintain a proper witness to the world; the church corporately, as with the elder individually, is to have a good reputation with “outsiders” (1 Tim. 3:7); (4) to facilitate growth and to preserve unity in the body (Eph. 4:1-16); (5) to expose unbelievers (1 John 2:19); (6) to restore the erring brother/sister to obedience and fellowship (1 Cor. 5:5; 2 Cor. 2:6,7,10; Gal. 6:1; 2 Thess. 3:14-15); (7) to deter others (1 Tim. 5:20); (8) to avert corporate discipline (Rev. 2:14-25); (9) because sin is rarely if ever an individual issue: it almost always has corporate ramifications (2 Cor. 2:5); the whole of the body (or at least a large segment of it) is adversely affected by the misdeeds of one member; and (10) evidently Paul believed that the willingness to embrace the task of discipline was a mark of maturity in a church's corporate life (2 Cor. 2:9).
And I bring that up only to say this -- this issue, and the issue which Dr. Storms brought up a few weeks ago regarding the Lord's table, are related.

If we miss that, well, go back and re-read this current essay. What's at stake in church discipline is what's at stake over open vs. closed eucharist.

Gadfly and I

My friend and occasional fellow channel-rat ("occasional" because I am only an "occasional" IRC channel rat these days) Alan Kurschner posted a fine piece of reasoning about KJVO-ism at today. It recounts 10 good reasons to reject King James only (and it's sister, King James "mostly" as the "ecclesiastical" text) as the translation of the word of God in English, not to be tampered with.

He deals, for the most part, with the "majority rule" argument, and that's fine -- it's the prevailing wind in KJVO advocacy. But I think there's a far more compelling argument against KJVO which dueling about texts types doesn't approach. It has to do with how the Bible was actually circulated for 1000 years amongst Christians -- in Latin.

By a long shot, the primary mode of transmission of the Bible among people in the church was the Vulgate -- especially in the West. And the Vulgate is, frankly, a somewhat-inferior translation of the texts in whatever form Jerome found them. Yet in that form God's word changed the world.

B. B. Warfield notwithstanding, the most powerful argument against KJVO is that God's word doesn't rely on the integrity of the methods of men's dissemination of printed pages. The psalmist says, "For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven," but also, "I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me."

The trap the KJVO guy falls into in thinking that God doesn't have a plan for His word, doesn't have a purpose for His word. We can't fall into that same trap and then fight about who's hole we are in. He can have the hole.

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