Republicans vs. Zombies

First: I am sick to death of the Zombie meme and the place of Zombies in popular culture.  I don't get it, and I hope making it a metaphor for how people on the alleged right-wing of American politics will put the thing to death.

Before I get on to my Friday bowl of whole-wheat beat-down, let me recommend a video for you which is fine except for about 90 seconds right in the middle.  Our dear friend Todd Friel has this to say about what happened in the election this week:

Which, like I said, is fine except for the 90 seconds in the middle where he says that God-centered beliefs necessarily lead to "conservative political" outcomes.  I think that's a broad brush at best.  I think a perfectly-godly outcome of YHVH-centered biblically-serious study would be to say that a government like Israel's -- which mandates a tithe/tax for the sake of the poor -- doesn't look like what Todd's talking about.  I think his brush is too-broad there, and he could tidy that up a bit for the sake of his own beliefs and thinking.

That said, the post-mortem cycle on the election this time around proves only one thing to me -- that the Right Wing pundit class of our nation is only capable of shooting the wounded and eating their dead.  We want to blame Mitt Romney for running a crappy campaign when his closest team is literally what made this a close race in the last 60 days of campaigning?  We want to blame Chris Christie for one photo op and his stupid gushie response to a phone call from Bruce Springsteen?  We want to blame the MSM and a freak storm that put the largest part of NYC into the dark ages through the middle of the voting cycle?

Please: just shut up.  The only people to blame for this loss, quite frankly, are ourselves.  I can prove it by looking at the last 5 presidential elections.

Here are the high-level results from 1996:

You remember that one, right?  Bill Clinton wins a plurality of voters, Ross Perot splits the right, and Bob Dole goes into early retirement.  But look at the vote counts: roughly 95 million voters, only about 47 million on the right.

Then there was 2000:

Roughly 111 million voters, and 50 million on the right -- with a win-fall of winning Florida in spite of missing the popular majority.

Here's 2004:

Roughly 121 million voters, and the Right wins both the election and the popular vote with 62 million votes.

Then 2008:

About 129 million voters -- the highest turnout on the list -- and the right-side gets 59 million votes.

Last, we have the results for this year (provisional, as I think there is still some vote counting going on):

Roughly 119 million voters this year, and the right-side getting 58 million votes -- oh yes, not to forget to mention an additional 1.139 million votes for Gary Johnson, so let's call right-side voting 59 million in 2012.

Look: in the only election in the last 20 years which the right-side vote won the majority of votes to win the election, the right-side candidate got more than 60 million votes.  Someplace in this country, there are at least 60 million people who have, at some time, voted for the right-side of the ticket.

They did not all show up on Tuesday.

People have got to show up to win elections.  People have got to show up to win elections.  People have got to show up to win elections.  And they have to vote for the candidate who is running to win the election.  You can't just shamble around before and after the election bemoaning how bad things are when you treat your vote with less respect than a Zombie treats the living.  Even a slow-moving Zombie knows he has to go get the brains to eat the brains.  If you're not doing at least that much, you got the country you deserve.

The rest of this stuff?  Hogwash.  Stop complaining and blaming everyone else.  We have met the apathetic and morally-oblivious voter, and he is us.

I'll have part 6 of the government spending vs. private income posts next week. 

The Whole Pie (5 of 6)

OK: Monday will be the final installment on this topic, but before we get to the final installment we have one more piece of this data that has to be unraveled   Some people reading this series (and I admit there are a lot fewer of you than there were 4 years ago before this blog when into hibernation) are probably concerned that I keep wanting to revert to the "total wages" number when calculating the size of the problem rather than using the whole GDP.  Doing that, you may be thinking, magnifies the problem and seems to put it out of reach of a solution.

The problem, of course, is that in the United States, we tax individuals (human beings) based on their income (which: in a P&L, is the "top line" of revenue), and we tax Corporations on their net profits (on the P&L: the "bottom line") -- both adjusted for deductions, of course.  So while there may be a top-line (as measured by the GDP) of stuff over and above wages to the tune of more-or-less $11 trillion, a LOT of those dollars are swallowed up by cost of goods and are not taxable using the current model of taxation.  And, in my view, they shouldn't be -- they are not really income dollars: they are cost-of-goods dollars, and in some sense they are double-dipped against wages.

Here's how to think of that: Abe's Accessories makes screws.  In fact, last year, Abe's sold $1 million in screws to Bob's Barricades, and Bob sold $10 million in barricades to Carl's Contractors, who used the barricades for $100 million in highway work they did for the state of Delaware (hypothetical).  All $111 million of that shows up in the GDP, but Abe only made $90K in profit; Bob only made $190K in profit, and Carl made $500K in profit which he had to split with his brother who is also an invested private owner.  All the metal in the screws, the blocking material in the barricades, and the stuff Bob used to pave the highways (from machines to paving material) was not taxed: only the net profit (final income) was taxed.

In other countries, there's a way around this: they charge a VAT tax when you buy something wholesale.  So when Abe buys raw materials to make into screws, he pays the foundry for the difference in price between the raw ore and the raw metal he receives -- and a tax to the government for the difference in value.  When Bob buys screws from Abe, he pays Abe the screw price, and then the government a tax on the difference in value between raw metal and screws.  Etc.  In that case, almost all of the value in the GDP is therefore taxed -- but it also results in much higher prices for the end user.

The alternative to this, of course, is a universal sales tax -- which is sort of a simplified VAT tax anyway (unless you're an economist).  But in the current system, that is itself double-dipping against income which was already taxed when it was paid out (in most cases).

That's why, at the end of the day, the comparison of private income vs. public expenses looks like this:

That's right: all the hoopla about excessive corporate profits, and it turns out that corporate profits in the US are about 25% of all income in the US.  AND: the total of all wages plus corporate profits is actually less than all public expenses (federal, state and local).

You now have everything you need to know about whether or not the US has a tax rate problem or a government expense problem, and we will discuss what to do about it on Monday right before you cast your vote.

Have a nice weekend; be in the Lord's house on the Lord's day with the Lord's people this weekend as you pray about this and all the other things which are worrying you about this present age.

The Whole Pie (4 of 6)

I know this is going up after lunch, but real life intervened here.  Sorry about that.

So our last graphic was this:

Which shows us that right now (well: from the place of our benchmark, which is 2011) the GDP of the United States is smaller than the total debt plus expenses of the United States Federal Government.  That problem is now an economy-sized problem -- a problem of the whole pie, as they say.  But it is actually much worse than this -- because this chart only shows us the matter of Federal expenses and debt.  Let's build it again using all governmental debt (federal, state and local) on the left, and the GDP on the right.

See: somehow the National conversation has overlooked the fact that when we're talking about what the "government" spends, we need to roll in all government expenditures -- Federal, State and Local.  And one fault of the new bar chart there is that it doesn't account for the ~$200 billion in state and local debt floating around in our economy.  It's out because I couldn't find a reliable summary, and also because it's just a single-pixel line in the scale of this chart.  I have one last chart to saddle you with before we start making conclusions or shouting fire in a crowded theater.

In case you didn't remember the "all wages" number from back on Monday, there's the comparison between "all wages" and "all government expenses".  That's right: our governments (Federal, State, Local) actually spend more money on stuff than all our personal incomes combined -- before we account for all the past debts those entities have accumulated.

Let that sink in, and then tomorrow we'll tackle part 5, which is the really terrifying part related to GDP.

The Whole Pie (3 of 6)

So yesterday we provided this chart:

To show that when we compare the money the Federal Government spends every year to all wages paid by all businesses, it would take an income tax of more than 75% to fund the Federal dole -- but we also admitted that "all wages" is not the whole of our GDP.

You can find the long-form explanation of what GDP is over at Wikipedia if you have that kind of time, but here's the short version.  GDP is the market value of all officially recognized final goods and services produced within a country in a given period of time (usually one year).  The basic calculation is this:

GDP = private consumption + gross investment + government spending + (exports − imports)

And they say that the GDP ultimately equals Gross Domestic Income. So it might be said that the right comparison to find out the tax burden to pay all the Government's bills would be to compare the Federal Expenditures to GDP/GDI.  If we do that, we get this:

Which looks a lot better, yes?  $ 3.598 Trillion is only 23.48% of $ 15.320 Trillion, and therefore we just need to tax everything at about 24% to get what the Federal Government needs to fund the continuing operations of all things in the current scheme.  And let's face it: right now we only collect about 18.5% in taxes, so the math seems to turn out in favor of the folks who say it's all just fine, we just have to get to a fair share.

Here's the Problem:

As of 2011, All the existing debt of the Federal Government plus all the annual expenses is greater than the GDP/GDI of our entire nation.  That means if you spent all the GDI -- every dollar taken in in trade either as wages or as payment (not just the profit) -- on Federal debt or expenses, you would still have $2.3 trillion which is uncovered -- and you will have spent every nickle of the value in our whole economy for the whole year on things which aren't leaving any economy behind.

The size of the problem is an economy-sized problem.

More tomorrow.

The Whole Pie (2 of 6)

Yesterday, I gave you the following pie chart to consider:

Which is its own puzzler.  Today I have a second pie chart to show you:

Which is the gross summary of how the Federal Government spent its money in 2011.  So the first thing is this: the Economic Census is out of date by 5 years, and wel'' be pleased to get a new one when it comes around.  The flip-side of the coin is that the size of our economy in 2011was, nor or less, exactly the same as it was in 2007.  Real GDP in 2007 was 13.33 trillion; Real GDP in 2011 was 13.34 trillion -- a difference for the accountants of only 0.07%.  So for the sake of the kind of comparison we're going to do, this is definitely the same ball-park.

Here's the thing:

Just as a side-by-side comparison, the Federal expenditures tally up to more than 75% of all wages to non-farm, non-government employees -- which, for the record, includes all CEO wages, all owner wages, all wages paid to the percent which makes the evil excessive wages as opposed to your wages.

That is: if we taxes all wages at 75%, we could pay for the current net expenditures of the US Federal Government.  This doesn't include your local taxes, mind you: this is just to  run the stuff at the Federal level. It means that everybody has to work all day Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and until about 2 PM on Thursday just to pay for what the Federal Government right now says cannot be done without.  To tax our way out of the problem, everyone need to pay a 75% income tax rate.

"Yeah, well, wait a minute, Cent," says the somewhat-informed person reading this post, "That's one comparison of the money, but the GDP for the US is $15 trillion.  You have left out a lot of stuff here to get to your calculation -- like corporate income and farm income.  You are making this out to be a lot worse than it really is."

That's an interesting point, and we will deal with it tomorrow.

The Whole Pie (1 of 6)

There are only 8 days to the election, right?  Well, I have something which you will need for the next 10 years if you live in the United States, and it's a series of posts based on this pie chart:

Click to Enlarge
That Pie Chart is the result of the 2007 US Economic Census, and it tells us what the total wages paid out by all the major industry groups (non-government) were in 2007.  You can click it to enlarge it.  There's enough information in this chart to make you both angry and sad and amazed for the next 3 weeks, but this is where we are starting for the count-down to election day.

Enjoy.  More tomorrow.

Comparing Zeus to the Triune God

All right, kids: Back in the Day, the Apostle Paul said this to the pagans at the Aeropagus:
“Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for 

“‘In him we live and move and have our being’; 

as even some of your own poets have said, 

“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ 

Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:22-29)
And more recently, the Mormon Mitt Romney said this:
My passion probably flows from the fact that I believe in God. And I believe we're all children of the same God. I believe we have a responsibility to care for one another. I served as a missionary for my church. I served as a pastor in my congregation for about 10 years. I've sat across the table from people who were out of work and worked with them to try and find new work or to help them through tough times.
Now, here's the thing:  the buzz from the discernment internet is that Mitt Romney has blasphemed God, and this simply underscores why exactly we can't possibly elect him president.

Yeah, well: pheh.

Paul, in the Aeropagus, is quoting the poet Aratus from the poem Phaenomena, and here's the common translation of the passage in question:
From Zeus let us begin; him do we mortals never leave unnamed;
full of Zeus are all the streets and all the market-places of men;
full is the sea and the havens thereof; always we all have need of Zeus. For we are also his offspring;
and he in his kindness unto men giveth favourable signs and wakeneth the people to work, reminding them of livelihood. He tells what time the soil is best for the labour of the ox and for the mattock, and what time the seasons are favourable both for the planting of trees and for casting all manner of seeds.
Let's be honest: if Paul quoted that poem today in front of the internet, he'd have his head ripped off for comparing Zeus to the Triune God.  But he actually did it, and it got caught in Scripture, so you people with the large vein protruding from your foreheads this week because of Gov. Romney's statement need to get Pauline for a moment and understand something: there are things which even the pagans understand in ignorance which are true enough.

They may be true enough to condemn them as idolaters, or as sinners, but they are true enough for secular discourse.

You know: since Mitt Romney was not appealing to anyone to convert religions but only to have some sympathy for the fact that he has one, maybe we ought to find better ways to approach his true enough statement about the general revelation of God to all men which the Apostle Paul agrees with than to roll a Mormon under the bus for saying what Aratus said 3000 years ago.

Ah, Diversity ...

Yes, it is the Political season in the US again, and after the Republican convention, and all the cries of "dog-whistle racism" going on during the Republican National Convention, I wanted to do some statistical analysis in order to think about the way that term gets defined.

In the United States, there are 50 governors -- one for each state.  Right now, 29 states are run by a Republican; 20 states are run by a Democrat; 1 is run by an Independent. (see table)

In the states run by Democrats, there are 18 male Governors and 2 female Governors -- a ratio in leaders of 9:1.  Of the 29 states run by Republicans, 25 are run by men, 4 by women.  That's a ratio of 6.25:1.

Just for kicks, in the Democratic ranks, they have 19 white Governors and 1 black Governor.  19:1 ratio.  The Republicans, on the other hand, have 25 white Governors, 2 Indian (from India), and 2 Hispanic -- which is a ratio again of 6.25:1 white to non-white, and this time is a 67% improvement over the Democratic mix.

In case it comes up.

A brief argument against millennialisms

This is not a post against eschatology: this is a post against the idealization of any particular system of eschatology (pre-mil, post-mil, a-mil, Chick-mil-A, etc.)

I offer a list of statements (in no particular order) which you should apply to your eschatology as necessary:

  • The Bible most certainly says that time will end and there will be an eternal state. (Rev 21)
  • The Bible most certainly does not say when time will end in terms of dates. (Mat 24)
  • The Bible says that the faith of Abraham is the same faith which all people saved by faith have (James 2)
  • The Bible says that the faith of Abraham is the same faith as those who are in Christ, and is not exclusive to the Jews (Heb 11-12)
  • The Bible says that God has a special plan for Jews at some point in future history (Rom 9-11)
  • The Bible says that all people saved by Christ receive the same final reward (Rev 20-21)
  • The Bible says that the moral law is the same for all people (Rom 1-2)
  • The Bible says that the Mosaic law is a special revelation to the Jews (Rom 3)
  • The Bible says that Christ died and rose from the dead (Acts 2, but seriously?)
  • The Bible says Christ will return to judge all men (Act 17)
  • The Bible says that the return of Christ is both imminent (Mat 24:36-44) and the object of our waiting (perhaps a very long time) (Mat 24:30)
  • There is more than one covenant in the Bible
  • Not all the covenants in the Bible have something to do with salvation
  • There are certainly "ages" or historical periods represented in the Bible
  • The distinction between ages that matters is the age prior to Christ's resurrection and the age which follows -- the one prior to Christ's resurrection is an "age of ignorance" (Acts 17 again), but the one that follows takes away all excuses because of Christ's victory over death.
  • Oh wait - I almost forgot: the progress of history is not from worse to better: it is from bad to worse until, at the right time, Christ is victorious over all his enemies (Rev 16-19, and from a lesser view, Dan 2)

That should be enough to offend everyone.  Have a nice day.

Why Christians are Idiots

Yes, I realize that you people aren't reading this blog anymore, but I hate TweetLonger and some things that need to be said are probably not as Pyro-Worthy as others.

Earlier today (maybe last night even), Collin Hansen let us know what he thinks about the Chic-fil-A social carnage:
Which, of course, is just barely right.  A little laters this morning, Glenn Reynolds of InstaPundit fame instead blogged this:
JULY 26, 2012

BOSTON GLOBE: Stop Picking On Chik-Fil-A. “If the mayor of a conservative town tried to keep out gay-friendly Starbucks or Apple, it would be an outrage.” Except that doesn’t seem to happen, does it? What I think is funny is that if you have the same view on gay marriage that Obama had when he was elected, now you’re an enemy of humanity or something. It’s some sort of, I don’t know, Liberal Fascism or something. . . .

Posted by Glenn Reynolds at 8:43 am

Now, think about this for a second. What InstaPundit is saying is this: Conservative politicians on the local level lead by example and don't try to go die on hills that don't matter.  An Apple Store or a plethora of Starbucks shacks are probably good for the local economy, and letting one open someplace properly zoned is a good ideaer.

What Collin is saying is that the SBC had a good ideaer by boycotting Disney and the world persecuted them for it -- and now the world is using the same tactics. "Go Figure."

What Collin seems to miss, it seems to me, is that the SBC chose a hill to die on which didn't work at all and made them look utterly petty and stupid -- and now that the World is imitating these tactics, and is now looking petty and stupid.  And our response to them looks, at best, staged when we say that this boycott is bad but our boycott is good.

You know: if only Christians had something to teach the rest of the world when it comes to finding a solution to culture.  Then we would really have something worth getting worked up about.

A Quick Question for 9Marks

Gentlemen --

Even your tweets make me happy.

Look: that said, you have published an archive of books and pamphlets that frankly instruct anyone who wants to know how to do it regarding how to have a healthy and Christ-centered church.  I own them all.  I recommend them to anyone who has a question even remotely related.  There is nothing about them, as far as I'm concerned, not right.

Here's the problem we have today in English-speaking Christendom, as highlighted by this tweet from Dr. Dever from the much-esteemed Jonathan Leeman: people say they can't find a decent local church.  That is: they can't find one, if we stick to the confessional lingo, where the admixture of error isn't in fact the predominant feature of the congregation.  If there are 9Marks for s healthy church, they would say that all the churches they have visited locally are scoring below 4 good marks, and probably below 3.

As a person who thinks these claims are over-rated, but also as a person who has to drive 40 minutes one way to get to the church where I think the elders (because they have elders and not a CEO) have a real spiritual concern for my family and all the families in the church, how does the maxim blurbed via twitter, above, speak to the reality of the sick state of English-speaking evangelicalism and the near-absence of decent local churches?

Thanks much for the consideration!

Well, Because they said so, I guess

Today I read this piece from about, well, you have to read it to believe it.  It's about whether or not the paternal human parent of a fetus ought to be forced by law to share the medical costs of prenatal development with the maternal human parent burdened with gestation.

Well, they put it this way:
... given new technologies that allow very early, safe paternity tests, why shouldn’t the father of the baby-in-progress be responsible for medical and other costs during pregnancy? ... “Preglimony names and in that way honors the man’s role in caring for his pregnant lover. A man and a woman who conceive are intimately connected. They are not spouses, and they may not even continue to be lovers, but they are not strangers either.”

Now, look: our secular society has spent the last 100 years trying to decouple the idea of shame from sexual sin all the way to the place where today even marriage is seen as obsolete because we just don't think about the enduring consequences of family relationships any more -- and that has, of course, caused the illegitimacy rates in our society to skyrocket from below 10% in 1940 to 40% in 2007 (source).

But now, what?  Because we don't have any shame or innate sense of personal responsibility to the lives we create though recreational sex, the law should come in and force anyone to do anything toward the consequences of those actions?

I have said this before: the only thing the (human) law can really do is be a trailing indicator of what people in a society are prone to do.  If most people are prone to do "X" and then "X" is made to be illegal, either the state has to implement totalitarian control over  "X" (which will create a black market for "X") or else the state has to concede that it cannot control "X" and those laws must be repealed.  Human Law only works when the citizen over which it rules are generally inclined to obey it.

That's why Prohibition didn't work.

But here, after a century-long campaign to do away with the virtues which create paternal responsibility by doing away with sexual moral shame, suddenly we find out that we are better off when men behave like men?  And now we want the Law to fix it?


What some are willing to do

Someone asked.  I'm here to help.

In the Traditionalist statement, those poor fellows signed a statement that said this:
We affirm that, because of the fall of Adam, every person inherits a nature and environment inclined toward sin and that every person who is capable of moral action will sin. Each person’s sin alone brings the wrath of a holy God, broken fellowship with Him, ever-worsening selfishness and destructiveness, death, and condemnation to an eternity in hell.

We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned. While no sinner is remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.
Which is not Calvinism, right?  That's the point: by heavens and Annie Armstrong, this ain't Calvinism.

But what is it?  Mere Biblicism?  Maybe if you have never read a book it is such a thing.

In 529, some fellows sat down to think about the teachings of Pelagius, and in thinking about them one of the things they said was this:
CANON 2. If anyone asserts that Adam's sin affected him alone and not his descendants also, or at least if he declares that it is only the death of the body which is the punishment for sin, and not also that sin, which is the death of the soul, passed through one man to the whole human race, he does injustice to God and contradicts the Apostle, who says, "Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned" (Rom. 5:12).
I realize there were no members of the Conservative Resurgence present when that statement was drafted, but it is at odds with the statement proffered by these so-called "Traditionalists".

These "Traditionalists" also signed up for this:
We affirm that any person who responds to the Gospel with repentance and faith is born again through the power of the Holy Spirit. He is a new creation in Christ and enters, at the moment he believes, into eternal life.

We deny that any person is regenerated prior to or apart from hearing and responding to the Gospel.
And then this:

We affirm that God, as an expression of His sovereignty, endows each person with actual free will (the ability to choose between two options), which must be exercised in accepting or rejecting God’s gracious call to salvation by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel. 
We deny that the decision of faith is an act of God rather than a response of the person. We deny that there is an “effectual call” for certain people that is different from a “general call” to any person who hears and understands the Gospel.
And those dirty non-Calvinists in 529 AD had previously decided this:
CANON 6. If anyone says that God has mercy upon us when, apart from his grace, we believe, will, desire, strive, labor, pray, watch, study, seek, ask, or knock, but does not confess that it is by the infusion and inspiration of the Holy Spirit within us that we have the faith, the will, or the strength to do all these things as we ought; or if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10).

CANON 7. If anyone affirms that we can form any right opinion or make any right choice which relates to the salvation of eternal life, as is expedient for us, or that we can be saved, that is, assent to the preaching of the gospel through our natural powers without the illumination and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who makes all men gladly assent to and believe in the truth, he is led astray by a heretical spirit, and does not understand the voice of God who says in the Gospel, "For apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5), and the word of the Apostle, "Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God" (2 Cor. 3:5).
Which is a plain refutation of Pelagius.

Now, lastly: some of the friends of those fellows who have signed up for the "Traditionalist" document have now said:
Dr. Mohler claims “portions of the statement actually go beyond Arminianism and appear to affirm semi-Pelagian understandings of sin, human nature, and the human will.” If Dr. Mohler is going to claim that two current seminary Presidents, two current Baptist college Presidents, six former Presidents of the SBC, state executives and hundreds of pastors and laypersons across the convention “appear” to have Semi-Pelagian leanings, surely he would document that charge.  Oddly enough he does not.  He doesn’t define Semi-Pelagian nor does he show where the statement appears to be Semi-Pelagian.  Had Dr. Mohler perhaps quoted the 3rdedition of The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church that Semi-Pelagians “maintained that the first steps towards the Christian life were ordinarily taken by the human will and that Grace supervened only later”and then demonstrated where the TS “appeared” to affirm that one’s first steps in the Christian life are “ordinarily taken by the human will” with grace responding to rather than initiating human will, we would have no qualms.  And, there remains a good reason why Dr. Mohler did not show parallels in the TS to historic Semi-Pelagianism. Namely, the TS nowhere affirms a position close or even similar to Semi-Pelagianism.  We must confess, we are at a loss.  We do not know how to respond.  He has left us with only three options concerning how he could make such an outrageous statement: 1) he did not read the document thoroughly; 2) he does not understand Semi-Pelagianism himself (the exact theological ignorance with which he charged the signers); or 3) he has some other motive.  Because of our faith in his theology and his motives we choose to believe the first option. If we are correct, we still remain confused that a seminary president would identify fellow believers with a belief widely considered heresy if he failed to read their confession carefully.
I am sure Dr. Mohler is utterly capable of speaking for himself.  And it seems these cats are right: the "Traditionalist" document doesn't seem to be semi-pelagian.  It seems like rank Pelagian doctrine when you look back to the place where Pelagius was denounced as a heretic.

So if they want to talk about that rather than wonder if Al Mohler knows what he is talking about, they should stop publishing internet essays through people like the divisive and repugnant Peter Lumpkins and publicly ask for a time and a place to have a substantial and serious discussion about the meaning of orthodox formulations of soteriology.

I am certain Dr. Mohler and many faculty members at SBTS would love to get into that discussion.

Southern Baptist Diagnostics

I realize that I never blog here anymore, but I have about 200 words worth writing about the current SBC stupidity and it's not Pyro-worthy, so I'll put it up here in case anyone's feed is still pointed at this blog.

There's a lot of heat and light right now about the ridiculous document, "A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation."  Tom Ascol is giving it the thrashing it deserves, and even the unbalanced can see that, in the best possible case, it talks about Christian theology in semi-pelagian or perhaps even rankly-pelagian terms.  It's not Arminianism.

Here's what I think: if the men who authored and are proffering this document are serious about being advocates for this way of talking about the Christian faith, let them come forward and have an open, honest, and real discussion with their peers at SBTS about what they mean by it.  This document, like all the other shady little snipes that have come before it, is not any better than gossip and rumor and false accusations until it is brought out into the light of day and tested for its accuracy and orthodoxy. Just because Paige Patterson signs onto a document does not make it either reasonable or serious.

However, unlike a lot of folks who are right now bemoaning what this document does or might do to and for the SBC, I welcome it.  I hail it as a milestone.  This is the chance its advocates have been waiting for: this sets the stage to actually fight the fight for the soul of the SBC so that it may find out what it is made of.

In a million different ways, I would much rather that the SBC actually have it out over the accusations made in this document, and over the shoddy formulations in this document, and settle the matter.  If there is a split, let there be a split -- and let those who accept the unbiblical, unhistorical, and unsystematic claims of this document separate from those who would call them to the abstract of principles of SBTS, among other foundational and historical SBC statements.

Rather than post these random and accusatory documents and then run away, let these fellows offer a time and place where an exhaustive and serious discussion of these issues can be had, and let them be resolved.  Or else: admit that they have no intention of ever doing that, and simply have the courage to walk away from SBTS and the like-minded churches which support it, and go their own irreconcilable way.

That's it.  See you the next time something like this comes up.

You'll be blown away