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Friday, March 31, 2006

Willy Wonka Laffy Taffy Jokes 


Rather than writing about the Council of Jerusalem at this moment, I figure I'll post some jokes instead.

DISCLAIMER: These jokes were found on a Nestle product. If you are boycotting Nestle for moral reasons, this disclaimer is being provided as a service to you so that you can continue your boycott, refuse to read the rest of this message, skip school, go out on the streets, wave Mexican flags, and...whoops, wrong protest. Carry on.

Taken from the wrappers of a couple of Willy Wonka Laffy Taffy packages.


7. Michael M., Youngstown, OH
What do you call a cow with a twitch?
Beef jerky.

8. Vickie R., Franklin, LA
What did Jon do when his dog ate his science book?
He took the words right out of his mouth.

11. Nicholas W., Sandy, UT
When is homework not homework?
When it is turned into the teacher.

12. Tiffany M., Superior, WI
Why did the skeleton cross the road?
To get to the body shop.



From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Some more links in the Paul - James discussion 


This is a followup to a couple of recent posts on this blog:


Those of you who have read Jennifer's comments in this blog know her view of Paul. If you didn't, she had a post in her own blog about the matter. Here is a small excerpt:


Why did Paul believe he was better than the apostles who had lived with Jesus, whom Jesus himself commissioned, even condemning them to hell? Why was he so opposed to circumcision when he was the one who ordered Timothy to be circumcised? Why would I want to emulate a man who was an egomaniacal, chauvinistic racist? (Ok, that’s my own personal question, not the [online Bible study] group’s)....

Let me close by saying that regardless of whether Paul was a fanatic or a fraud, it absolutely does not shake my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ or my commitment to follow him. It’s just one more reason why I have come to the conclusion that I need to live in the Gospels, absorbing and memorizing the words and actions of Jesus. I am convinced that is all I need to have an abundant life, full of grace and peace.



Jennifer posted some links to other material about Paul:

http://www.justgivemethetruth.com/false_apostle.htm

The major point in this essay is that Paul's apostleship wasn't recognized by others (which I guess means that the quote in 2 Peter 3:15-16 is believed to be spurious). In fact, the essay argues that Revelation 2:1-2 and 2 Timothy 1:15 provide a clue that the church of Ephesus rejected Paul, and God praised this action.

This same theme is picked up in http://www.jesuswordsonly.com/. This site also argues that it has the original Hebrew book of Matthew, and that the Greek book has small subtle changes.

I don't have time to visit the other sites right now, but they are http://www.beliefnet.com/story/143/story_14376_1.html and http://www.judaismvschristianity.com/.

The argument of the two sites I visited ends up becoming similar to the Mormon argument - namely, that Jesus established his church, but that it was wiped out, only to be rediscovered later. So, did Jesus say that his church would disappear for a time? Not exactly:


Matthew 24:35 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

35Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.



Ironically, this appears in the same Book of Matthew that some argue has been corrupted. From the same book:


Matthew 16:13-19 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society



Peter's Confession of Christ
13When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"
14They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."

15"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"

16Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ,[a] the Son of the living God."

17Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter,[b] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[c] will not overcome it.[d] 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be[e] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[f] loosed in heaven."

Footnotes:

Matthew 16:16 Or Messiah; also in verse 20
Matthew 16:18 Peter means rock.
Matthew 16:18 Or hell
Matthew 16:18 Or not prove stronger than it
Matthew 16:19 Or have been
Matthew 16:19 Or have been



Now Roman Catholics argue that the church that Christ built was built upon Peter himself, and that church was the Roman Catholic Church - the same church that includes the letters of Paul as part of its authorized Bible today. (To be fair, however, I once heard that the Catholics hold the Gospels in higher esteem than the rest of the New Testament, but I have not confirmed this.)

While I disagree with some of the conclusions that the writers above reach, but, as I noted in the comments to this post:


As those who have read my blog have noticed, I have a somewhat higher opinion of Paul than Jennifer does. However, that doesn't mean that the questions shouldn't be asked.


And the questions are being asked. Tune in to the online Bible study, which is about to look at...the Epistle of James. Yeah, that one.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

(2) comments links to this post

OEMR - Open Borders, Open Schools 


In the past, this blog has touched upon issues in which a government passes an immoral law, and a Christian must decide whether or not to obey it. The classic example of such a law can be found in Daniel 6, a case in which Daniel knowing violated a law that he believed was immoral, and was therefore subject to the consequences imposed by the government authorities.

One of the arguments against current U.S. immigration law in general, and the new House bill in particular, is that it is immoral:


Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio led a special hearing on immigration issues at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights July 19....

"We come here today to hear from those who are affected by a morass of laws which are ineffective, inefficient and immoral," said Bishop DiMarzio in his opening statement to a standing-room-only crowd.

"We need to be open to rethinking our whole immigration system based on reality," continued the bishop, a longtime advocate of immigration reform and a member of the Global Commission on International Migration. He also is chairman of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc. and former chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Migration.

"This issue will not go away. While many may condemn the presence of undocumented immigrants in our land, we willingly accept their hard labor, their contributions to our economy, and their cultural and religious spirit which enriches our local communities," Bishop DiMarzio said. "Most of them come here to give their children a better life. If they had a means to come here legally, every one of them would do so."



This was part of the thinking that motivated the huge rally that was held in downtown Los Angeles. During the Saturday rally, the Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, addressed the crowd:


There are no illegals here today. The only thing that would be illegal is a law that would demonize and criminalize 11 million people. We come together to say that we are workers, not criminals.


In other words, Villaraigosa and the other sponsors of the rally believed that it was not illegal for people to enter the United States without going through channels, and that if peope had to jump fences and swim rivers, so be it. If the law said that people who weren't allowed in the United States had to remain in their own countries, and that they shouldn't jump fences, too bad.

But then things began to hit close to home. Mayor Villaraigosa, who has expressed an interest in reforming the Los Angeles United School District by bringing it under his direct control, could not help but notice that the protests didn't end when the weekend was over. From Pasadena Weekly:


Then on Monday — Cesar Chavez Day in California — thousands of high school students in Pasadena, Glendale and Los Angeles walked out of class to voice opposition to the House-approved bill, which would have local police shoulder the burden of immigration law and expand detention centers to hold more than 30,000 new non-citizen detainees.

“If they pass this law, it’s going to affect everybody,” said Glendale High School student Jessica Garcia, 15, who joined hundreds of teens in swarming Glendale City Hall for more than an hour.

Carrying both American and Mexican flags, the students made a point of announcing immigrant families as an essential part of the community, at times chanting “USA! USA!” and “Hell, no. We won’t go!”

In Pasadena, hundreds of mostly Latino students filed out of John Muir High School that morning and marched to Pasadena Unified School District headquarters.

Students later also left Blair High School to join the march....

In Echo Park at Belmont High School, where most students are Latino, the halls were virtually empty by mid-Monday, according to reports from staff inside the school.

“I marched because what they are doing is not fair for immigrants. I marched because of my family,” said Belmont freshman Benjamin Rivera, who was born in El Salvador.

On Tuesday, as more student protests erupted in South Los Angeles, LA Unified schools went on temporary lockdown....

And so many students left Grant High School in Van Nuys that parts of Burbank and Laurel Canyon boulevards were virtually shut down, said LA City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel....



Mayor Vilaraigosa, who had a number of student protestors at his doorstep, tried to encourage them to go back to school. His call went unheeded:


[Villaraigosa] aspires to run Los Angeles schools, and as such can hardly champion skipping class. And he covets a national reputation of leadership, a claim that requires him to rise above his own past as a student activist, to show maturity even in the face of a protest whose message he endorses and to demonstrate that he is not captive to ethnic politics or limited to left-wing views.

He got that opportunity Monday afternoon, when he told students he shared their opposition to an immigration bill pending in Congress but wanted them to go back to school; they booed, refused to leave and chanted in defiance. "Hell no, we won't go," they called out, yelling over the mayor's attempts to speak.

Still, Villaraigosa had his moment.

"Somebody's got to be a grown-up," he said Tuesday, reflecting on the turn of events that had placed him on the receiving end of an angry student group even though Villaraigosa himself participated in a historic student walkout in 1968. "As a father, I would want my kids to go back to school."



After a couple of days of truancy, the Los Angeles Unified School District issued this letter:


Los Angeles Unified School District

Dear Parent/Guardian:

During the past several days there have been a series of student walkouts during the
school day to protest recent proposed immigration legislation. Although we support
students’ right to voice their opinion, when students leave school without permission, they are in violation of District policy and compulsory attendance laws. Section 48200 of the Education Code states: “that each person who is between the ages of six and eighteen years and not otherwise exempted…is subject to compulsory full-time education…”

In addition to the Education Code, the Los Angeles City and Los Angeles County have
strict loitering ordinances. These ordinances prohibit any person under the age of
eighteen and subject to compulsory school attendance from loitering in or upon the public streets, highways, roads, alley, parks, playgrounds, or other public grounds between the hours of 8:30a.m. and 1:30p.m. on days when school is in session. Students who violate these ordinances may receive a citation, have to appear in court with their parent/guardian, have a fine imposed by the court, and risk having their driver’s license withheld.

Activities have been planned at each school to provide students with an opportunity to express their concerns and opinions. Teachers have received instructional materials to also help students understand the current events regarding immigration.

Please be advised that students who leave campus without permission are defying school rules and District policy and will be subject to disciplinary consequences. In addition, students who are not in school and absent without a valid excuse will be issued a loitering citation by law enforcement agencies. We are requesting your support in ensuring that your child attends school for the entire school day and, if interested, take advantage of school based activities to voice their viewpoint on this and other relevant current events occurring in the community. If you have further questions, feel free to contact your child’s school.



So people who say it's OK to violate U.S. law, jump national fences, and look for work on the streets (and who also want no restrictions on the issuing of driver's licenses) are being criticized for breaking city/county laws, jumping school fences, and hanging out on city streets; plus, they may lose their driver's licenses in the bargain.

Of course, Villaraigosa and other would argue that the immigration laws are immoral, but the school attendance and loitering laws are not. Oh yeah?


Although California school districts are making progress by passing inclusive non-discrimination policies, there are far too many school districts still not in compliance with California law, according to the first in a series of Safe Schools Research Briefs that the California Safe Schools Coalition is releasing in 2006. The District Policies and Trainings Research Brief reveals that 94 percent of school districts report having a policy specifically prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, only 40 percent of districts have policies that prohibit harassment based on gender identity, appearance or behavior. This means that 60 percent of school districts are in direct violation of California law.


And another example of the alleged immorality of the California public school system:


We are in a crisis: the California Unified Public School system needs a complete overhaul. Our high school students are not passing the exit exam....

Ninety percent of disabled students, 26,400, are not passing their exit exams, while 75% of African American students, 41,000, and 65% of Latino American students, 32,000, are also not passing their exams--a whopping 90,000 students in California....

The results are different for Asian Americans and White Americans-- 75% of Asian Americans passed the test, while 70% of white students passed. Something must be very wrong with California's education system to have these despairing and different numbers.



And let's turn to loitering, which has its defenders:


Loafing and loitering, the Supreme Court said 31 years ago, are among the "amenities of life" that make America great.

Even though they are not mentioned in the Constitution, the justices agreed, "These unwritten amenities have been in part responsible for giving our people the feeling of independence and self-confidence, the feeling of creativity. These amenities have dignified the right of dissent and have honored the right to be nonconformists and the right to defy submissiveness. They have encouraged lives of high spirits rather than hushed, suffocating silence."



So one can easily make an argument that it's immoral to compel a person of color to go to a school that won't educate him or her anyway, and that it's immoral and unconstitutional to restrict one's freedom by anti-loitering statutes (although the Supreme Court has had a variety of decisions on this particular issue).

So why is it OK to cross the border illegally, but it's not OK to skip school? To answer that question, follow the money. When a city has to provide services to illegal immigrants, it can get money for these services from state and Federal governments, so more illegal immigration is perversely a good thing (although the localities don't get sufficient monies to provide the services). However, when students skip school, the locality loses money. Here's what the Los Angeles schools lost:


LAUSD spokeswoman Stephanie Brady said roughly 8,500 students walked out of schools in protest, a sharp drop from the 27,000 who marched on Monday. The district could lose $28.60 in state education funding for each of them, a total of just over $1 million for the two days.


And that's just LAUSD. Other government agencies lost money, and there were also non-quantifiable losses to education and emergency services:


Santa Ana Unified, which recorded 4,277 absences for its middle and high schools Monday and Tuesday, could lose about $120,000.

The Long Beach Unified School District estimated that about 3,000 students were absent for all or a portion of the school day Monday and Tuesday, said spokesman Chris Eftychiou, who added that the district could lose as much as $85,000.

The effect was not only financial, he added: There was also the disruption to instruction.

"There are only so many days in the year…. Each day in class is precious," he said.

The LAPD, on tactical alert for the protests, had to pay officers overtime and pull them off normal duties, which meant some calls went unanswered, Lt. Paul Vernon said.

"When we go on tactical alert, we stop answering nonemergency calls," he said. "So when someone calls about, say, a suspicious man, we are not responding."



This leads one to the sneaking suspicion that if schools receive flat rate funding from the state, there wouldn't be this huge effort to get the students back into school.

On the other hand, if the Federal and state governments absolutely refused to pay for services to illegal aliens, you'd suspect that Villaraigosa would be demanding that a Berlin Wall be built on the U.S.-Mexican border.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

OEMR - Religion of Peace, or Religion of Pieces? 


I didn't anticipate this question this morning, but it's certainly a valid one at present:


Is Islam a religion of peace?


Here are some comments [1] [2] [3] on the topic:


This is the biggest dilem[n]a with supposedly "liberating" these Islamic countries. You cannot change culture and religion. The religion says he should die....

posted by A Human Bean
[The Abdul Rahman] case has really brought to light what [A Human Bean] said, the problem of liberating Islamic countries. It also brings to light the indisputable truth of violence that is at the very core of Islam. So many people have been led to believe that it is a religion of peace, when that is not the case....

posted by Jennifer
Some Muslims would probably argue that all of the Quran references to killing were meant for the time of Muhammad and do not apply to the present day. Others, such as the "moderate" Afghan spiritual leaders and Al Qaeda, would argue that they DO apply.

posted by Ontario Emperor



Christianity Today identified three views on this topic.

Religion of Peace

On the one hand, you have the Council on American-Islamic Relations saying the following:


"Jihad" does not mean "holy war." Literally, jihad means to strive, struggle and exert effort. It is a central and broad Islamic concept that includes struggle against evil inclinations within oneself, struggle to improve the quality of life in society, struggle in the battlefield for self-defense (e.g., - having a standing army for national defense), or fighting against tyranny or oppression.


And religionofpeace.com (not to be confused with thereligionofpeace.com) says the following:


The purpose of Islam is to save humankind from the anguish of this world and the world to come. Therefore the Prophet's mission was to establish justice and peace on earth and to offer guidance for salvation in the Hereafter. For all of this his method was nonviolence, because he was created rahmatan lil-`alamin as a Mercy to the Worlds.

His love for humankind historically proves the truth of his way. At the beginning of his prophethood he went to Taif to call the people towards Allah, and people threw stones at him mercilessly and hurt him severely. The angels came to him and sought his order to punish the people of Taif, but the Mercy to the Worlds refused them, and prayed to Allah for the good of those who hurt him.



This is the official statement of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah:


RIYADH, 21 April 2004 — Crown Prince Abdullah, deputy premier and commander of the National Guard, yesterday reaffirmed that Islam is a religion of peace and moderation.

The crown prince was delivering the inaugural address at an international conference on Islam and terrorism, organized by Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University.

“Islam condemns all forms of terrorism and we must strive to correct wrong perceptions about our religion,” he said. “This is my vision.”



Similarly, many Muslim national governments officially sent condolences regarding the September 11 attacks:


With the exception of [Saddam Hussein's] Iraq, Muslim nations distanced themselves from the attack on America. "Iran has vehemently condemned the suicidal terrorist attacks in the United States," Iran Today reported in a front-page story on September 24, "and has expressed its deep sorrow and sympathy with the American nation." The governments of Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen expressed similar sentiments.


Religion Divided

In a dissenting view, Salman Rushdie (who is certainly familiar with the issues involved) said the following in the New York Times after September 11, noting that the governments' statements might not represent the thoughts of their people:


If this isn't about Islam, why the worldwide Muslim demonstrations in support of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda? Why did those 10,000 men armed with swords and axes mass on the Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier, answering some mullah's call to jihad? Why are the war's first British casualties three Muslim men who died fighting on the Taliban side? . …[Islamists have] a loathing of modern society in general, riddled as it is with music, godlessness, and sex; and a more particularized loathing (and fear) of the prospect that their own immediate surroundings could be taken over—"Westoxicated"—by the liberal Western-style way of life.

Poverty is their great helper, and the fruit of their efforts is paranoia. This paranoid Islam, which blames outsiders, "infidels," for all the ills of Muslim societies, and whose proposed remedy is the closing of those societies to the rival project of modernity, is presently the fastest growing version of Islam in the world.



The New York Times reports that the differing views divided a mosque:


Muslim factions at odds over involvement with the Taliban and terrorism squared off yesterday at a Queens mosque, where the issue divided the congregation after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Armed with a court order and a phalanx of police officers, a group [the Afghan Turkistan Islamic Foundation in America] that had been ousted from the mosque in 2001 demanded entrance. The group...said it was the true founder of the mosque, the Hazrat-I-Abubakr Sadiq in Flushing, and demanded the departure of the current imam, who charged after 9/11 that the group had been supporting the Taliban....

An uproar promptly broke out, as both factions crowded into the courtyard in front of the mosque, whose entrance bears the inscription, "Enter ye here in peace and security." Both sides shouted angrily at each other, and police officers stepped in to break up standoffs and physical struggles.

Supporters of the imam, Mohammed Sherzad, shouted that the incoming faction only wanted to use the temple, the largest Afghan mosque in the New York area, as an outpost for the Taliban to finance terrorist activities.

Foundation supporters responded that Imam Sherzad, whom they had originally hired as a spiritual leader, had abused his position and illegally seized ownership of the building....

The power struggle erupted when the imam accused the foundation of funneling money to Taliban militants in Afghanistan. In turn, foundation members accused Imam Sherzad of exceeding his role as a spiritual leader by supporting certain warlords fighting against the Taliban.



Religion of Pieces

But even Rushdie and the New York Times writer feel that these incidents represent just a faction within the Muslim community. Others suggest that Islam itself is to blame:


There is, finally, the view that September 11 represents authentic Islam, a notion adopted by Osama bin Laden and his many followers. His revolutionary zeal lacks no clarity. "The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies—civilians and military—is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it," he said in February 1998. Muslim extremists from Bangladesh, Egypt, and Pakistan also signed this fatwa, titled "Urging Jihad Against Americans." Bin Laden told ABC News producer Rahimullah Yousafsai last winter that he would kill his own children, if it were necessary, to hit American targets.


And Mark Steyn believes that these are not just isolated incidents:


Something very remarkable is happening around the globe and, if you want the short version, a Muslim demonstrator in Toronto the other day put it very well:

''We won't stop the protests until the world obeys Islamic law.''

Stated that baldly it sounds ridiculous. But, simply as a matter of fact, every year more and more of the world lives under Islamic law: Pakistan adopted Islamic law in 1977, Iran in 1979, Sudan in 1984. Four decades ago, Nigeria lived under English common law; now, half of it's in the grip of sharia, and the other half's feeling the squeeze, as the death toll from the cartoon jihad indicates....

What, in the end, are all these supposedly unconnected matters from Danish cartoons to the murder of a Dutch filmmaker to gender-segregated swimming sessions in French municipal pools about? Answer: sovereignty. Islam claims universal jurisdiction and always has. The only difference is that they're now acting upon it. The signature act of the new age was the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran: Even hostile states generally respect the convention that diplomatic missions are the sovereign territory of their respective countries. Tehran then advanced to claiming jurisdiction over the citizens of sovereign states and killing them -- as it did to Salman Rushdie's translators and publishers. Now in the cartoon jihad and other episodes, the restraints of Islamic law are being extended piecemeal to the advanced world, by intimidation and violence but also by the usual cooing promotion of a spurious multicultural "respect" by Bill Clinton, the United Church of Canada, European foreign ministers, etc.



Then you have the straddling case of Answering Christianity (a site which I've referenced before). While the intent of the text is to state that things are different today then they were in Muhammad's time, look at the end of the passage below:


So how come Muslim Fundamentalists execute those who desert Islam then?

The interpretation of those who prohibit women from education, even though Islam clearly allows education for women, and prohibit them also from driving, and oppress men by forcing them to grow beards, even though beards are NOT mandatory in Islam, doesn't mean much to me.

As we've seen above, it is quite clear, and beyond any questioning that Allah Almighty prohibited compulsion in religion and allowed the absolute freedom of religion to everyone. When Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him executed apostates, he did it because Muslims were at war time and because Islam was still partial, and Muslims needed protection from the hypocrites of the Jews and Christians who purposely entered Islam and deserted it later to create confusion among the Muslims as shown below in the Noble Verse.

The Sayings of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, regarding killing the renegades came when Islam was partial and the Muslims were dealing with wars all the time. So if the person wasn't with the Muslims, then he was certainly with his people, the pagans and the other non-Muslims, and he would've then had to join the evil forces to fight the Muslims. So the case back then was different than today.

I have no sympathy for those hypocrites of the Jews and Christians who got executed:

"A section of the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) say: Believe in the morning what is revealed to the believers (Muslims), but reject it at the end of the day; perchance they may (themselves) turn back (from Islam). (The Noble Quran, 3:72)"



From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

(7) comments links to this post

OEMR - The Epistle of Straw? 


As a Lutheran, this does hit close to home. I found a United Methodist website that reproduced several of Martin Luther's comments on the Epistle of James:


"Saint John's gospel and St. Paul's epistles, especially that to the Romans, and St. Peter's first epistle are the true pit and marrow of all the books. They should justly be the first books, and every Christian should be advised to read them first and most, and by daily reading to make them as familiar to himself as his daily bread.
In them you do not find described many works and miracles of Christ; but you do find depicted in a masterly manner how faith in Christ overcomes sin, death, and hell, and gives life, righteousness, and salvation. This is the real nature of the Gospel …

These books show you Christ and teach you all that is necessary and salutary for you to known even though you were never to see or hear any other book or doctrine. Therefore St. James epistle is really an epistle of straw compared to them, for it lacks this evangelical character." (W-DB 6, 10 Plass 988)

and yet, about the new testament itself, Luther says
The New Testament is only the gospel preached: "This is nothing else than the message by which the Spirit is offered to us and grace for the forgiveness of sins, purchased for us by Christ Crucified-and all entirely free, through the pure mercy of God the Father, who thus favors us unworthy creatures, who deserve damnation rather than anything else."

After the gospel preached is the exhortations, which are to "animate those who have already been justified" so that they might "Practice love in good works, and courageously to bear the cross and all other tribulations of this world" (W 18, 692 in Plass 987-988).

and yet, again, Luther quotes James
His comments on Prayer-do not ever give up on prayer, "Let us, therefore, pray boldly and confidently" supported by James 5:16. (Plass 1097)

"So the question is asked: How can justification take place without the works of the Law, and how can no justification take place by the works of the Law even though James clearly says: 'Faith without works is dead' (2:26) and 'By works a man is justified' (2:24), adducing the examples of Abraham and Rahab? And even Paul says (Gal 5:6): 'Faith (which) worketh by love' and above (Rom 2:13): 'The doers of the Law shall be justified"? Answer: the apostle distinguishes between the Law and faith, between the letter and grace, and so also between their works. He calls those works 'works of the Law' that are done without faith and grace, by the Law, which forces them to be done through fear or through the enticing promise of temporal advantages. But he calls these 'works of faith' which are done in the spirit of liberty, purely out of love to God. And these can be done only by those who are justified by faith. But the works of the Law contribute nothing toward this justification, nay, they greatly hinder it, because they will not let a man realize that he is unjust and in need of justification. ...

"There when the blessed James and the apostle say that man is justified by works, they are disputing the false conception of those who contended that a faith without works would be sufficient. However, the apostle does not say that faith is without its characteristic works-for then there would be no faith at all since 'activity reveals the nature of a thing' according to philosophers-but that it justifies without the works of the Law. Therefore justification does not require a living faith, which performs its works. (W 56, 248f in Plass 720-721).

Luther also uses James 1:14 to argue about sin that "the great enticement is within you, and you must first run and flee from yourself" (W 10 I, 1, in Plass 1302).

In James 2:26, Luther explains that before God, we are justified by faith alone, without works, but "Before the people and himself, he is justified through works, that is, he thereby becomes known and certain himself that he honestly believes and is pious" (W10 III, 287 f in Plass 1231).

James 4:7 "resist the devil" We should, in fact, be afraid of sin and temptation, but "we should not stay in terror; we should turn again to grace" (W-T 1, No. 407). (p 1349)
Also in response to temptation, Luther exhorts us to call upon God and pray (James 5:13)
(W-T 1, No. 956 in Plass 1350)

Ewald M. Plass, compiler, What Luther Says: An Anthology Three Volumes. (St. Louis MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1959).
W is the Weimar Edition of Luther's Works
W-Br is the Weimar Edition of Luther's Letters Briefe
W-DB is the Weimar Edition Deutsche Bibel
W-T is the Weimar Edition Tischreden



But of all of these comments, the one that has stuck has been "epistle of straw." Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (catholicism.org) has a lot to say about this:


That Martin Luther called the Epistle of St. James “an epistle of straw” is a well-known fact. Those just learning it should not be surprised when they read it, though. After all, in making up his new religion, Luther’s ultimate recourse was to his own intellect. About the nicest thing we can say of such a criterion for truth is that it was not given a divine promise of inerrancy....

Since [Luther] did not think virtue and vice had any role in man’s salvation, and since he had little of the former and much of the latter, the book was simply not to his heretical and immoral tastes....



And, if these sites [1] [2] are accurate, someone at EWTN thinks that Luther eliminated James from the Bible:


Answer by Fr. Robert J. Levis on 01-23-2002:
Shawn, All or most of the Bibles printed for Protestant usage omit the Epistle of James from their New Testament list, following the decision of Martin Luther who claimed this Epistle was merely one of straw. However, many of these Bibles list this Epistle separately as an apocryphal work. God bless. Fr. Bob Levis



Here's what a United Church of God web page says:


Frustrated by religious leaders who claimed this book supported their mistaken ideas that people could buy their salvation through monetary gifts to the church, Luther uttered his ill-advised phrase. Consumed in the debate, he went beyond a proper understanding of the Scriptures and dismissed James's statements that works are a necessary evidence of faith.

Many people today misapply Luther's words, not understanding the circumstances behind them. Martin Luther's life was one of dedication and chaste behavior. But his zealous words and arguments are sometimes taken out of historical context to excuse undisciplined lifestyles.



Josh S believes that it is all a language problem:


Luther the exegete understood both Paul and the Evangelists pretty well. However, where he, like other exegetes of his day, dropped the ball were texts that spoke of everything in circumvented, Hebraic fashion, James and Revelation being entirely composed of such writing. With respect to James, Luther's interpretation was that it was collection of rabbinic/Jewish moralisms with a vaguely Christian veneer adding a little gloss....

The conclusion of later exegetes is that Luther's entire estimation of James was completely incorrect, as studies of Hebrew, Hebraicized Greek, and koine Greek had a long ways to go yet. The fact is that Luther was far better equipped to handle the rather more straightforward Greek of Paul and the Evangelists than the subtle Hebraisms of James and John....



And, as I mentioned earlier, some believe that it is Paul, not James, who should be thrown out of the Bible.


I would like to share with you why I, personally, have come to the conclusion that Paul's theology differs substantially from the faith of Jesus*, and therefore cannot be considered Christian....

Paul clearly felt that the personal revelation that he experienced was of greater value than the years of instruction that the Apostles received from Jesus himself. To test the validity of this assertion, it is necessary to compare Paul's teaching with that of Jesus. If, in fact, Paul's teaching turns out to be a natural extension of that of Jesus, in the same way that a fully grown tree is the natural extension of a sapling, then there may be validity to his belief. If, however, the voice or spirit that Paul thinks communicated with him is unreliable, then we should expect to see Paul choosing a different path than the one Jesus chose....

Paul rejected the authority of the Apostles that Jesus appointed, and the Apostles that Jesus appointed rejected Paul. Paul lacked authority to preach, and his own letters make it clear that he did not possess a letter of recommendation from the authorities that Jesus instituted. Jesus did not institute the Twelve Apostles as a means of personal amusement or to fill his idle time; he did so to protect the Church from idle, heretical, or blasphemous doctrines. He did so with the intention of creating an institution that would preserve correct teaching. Paul chose to go outside of this institution, without a letter of recommendation, and without benefiting himself from its teaching or instruction. Not only do Paul's writings lack consistency or reliability, they cannot be considered Christian.



But most sources reject neither James nor Paul. Here's an example:


The alleged rhubarb between James and Paul has formed the ground for a variety of wacky theories, ranging from Baur's seminal "faith vs works split in early Christianity" to Robert Eisenman's attempts to make Romans 14:2 a slam by Paul against James' supposed vegetarianism (evidenced only by later 2nd century documents)....

Paul and James are NOT even addressing the same issues. Paul is teaching justification over and against specific observation of the Jewish law, such as circumcision (Rom. 3:1), and doing so with reference to a person prior to conversion. James is advocating the practical outworking of faith (i.e. validation) through generally moral behavior, but not through anything uniquely associated with the Jewish law, and after conversion. Is there any mention of circumcision or Jewish holidays in James? No -- he is concerned with caring for the poor, treating all people fairly, and holding one's tongue in check, once one is a believer. Quite simply, as Letham puts it, "The works of faith which James advocates are different from the works of the law that Paul condemns."...

As is often the case, critics seeking rivalry are missing the forest for the trees.



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OEMR - A Series on Moral Relativism 


Yes, I know that the Blog Etiquette Powers That Be state that blogs are supposed to be spontaneous written diarrhea and all that, but I'd like to attempt to author an orderly exploration of various topics pertaining to moral relativism.

So far, I've decided that I'd like to touch upon a few issues:
  • Those who insist on battling one sin (e.g. greed or homosexuality) while ignoring other sins (e.g. greed or homosexuality). There's a whole list of sins to look at. (Actually, there's a similar list somewhere else; I just have to find it.)

  • Those "open borders" advocates in authority who maintain that illegal immigrants are not morally obligated to follow U.S. rules about jumping fences, but are currently criticizing students who refuse to follow school rules about jumping fences. [1] [2]

  • Last but not least, I'd like to touch upon selective application of the Bible in a more general sense. Whether we label our view of the Bible as "inerrant" or "inspired" or "a good read," all of us (including those who believe in inerrancy) like to choose some parts of the Bible and ignore others. I recently discussed this in terms of those who discount the Pauline Epistles, and I once discussed how Thomas Jefferson's denial of anything miraculous led to the Jefferson Bible, but I'd like to delve into this issue a little more.

And I'm sure I'll find some moral relativism thing that hits closer to home. THAT oughta be fun.

More later.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

She works hard for the money 


Not all legislators are lawyers or professional politicians. The following appeared in an article on mobile gaming devices:


Taking gambling off the casino floor will make it harder to ensure minors don't wager, said [Nevada] state Sen. Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, the lone lawmaker who voted against the bill when it passed the Legislature last year.

"It's already hard enough to stop kids from playing Keno," said Carlton, a part-time legislator who is a full-time waitress at the Treasure Island resort's coffee shop.



Carlton's web page lists her legislative and non-legislative experience:


Legislative Service:

Nevada Senate, 1999-2005—five special and four regular sessions. Member: Senate Committees on Commerce and Labor, 1999-2005; Legislative Affairs and Operations, 1999-2001; Natural Resources, 1999-2005; Transportation and Homeland Security, 2005; Transportation, 2003. Legislative Commission, 2003-2004. Vice Chair, Legislative Committee for the Review and Oversight of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the Marlette Lake Water System, 2003-2004; Member, Legislative Commission’s Committee to Continue the Review of Programs and Activities in the Lake Tahoe Basin, 2001-2002. Advisory Board on Maternal and Child Health, 200 1-present; Perinatal Substance Abuse Prevention Subcommittee of the Maternal and Child Health Advisory Board, 2003-present; Member, Nevada State Council for Interstate Adult Offender Supervision.

Affiliations:

Executive Committee Member, National Labor Caucus of State Legislators; Girl Scouts; Las Vegas Interfaith Council; Culinary Local No. 226 Shop Steward; Southern Nevada Water Authority Citizens Advisory Committee on Water Quality; Griffith United Methodist Church, 1992-2003; Girl Scouts Girls Golf Club.



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This Month's Death Post 


Following up on the latest status of Abdul Rahman (a/k/a Abdur Rahman), I ran across the following:


Abdul Rahman, 41, was released from the high-security Policharki prison on the outskirts of the capital late Monday after a court dropped charges of apostasy against him for lack of evidence and suspected mental illness....

Muslim clerics condemned Rahman's release, saying it was a "betrayal of Islam." They threatened to incite violent protests....

Rahman's ordeal began as a custody dispute over his two daughters, now 13 and 14. The girls had been living with their grandparents their whole lives but Rahman sought custody when he returned to Afghanistan in 2002 after living in Germany for nine years. A custody battle ensued and the matter was taken to police.

During questioning, it emerged that Rahman was a Christian and was carrying a Bible. He was immediately arrested and charged....



Back to the Muslim clerics in Afghanistan. You'll recall that they previously called for Rahman to be hacked to pieces. Turns out they want to hack me, and some of you, to pieces also (emphasis mine):


Early on Monday around 500 people demonstrated in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif against the Supreme Court's decision not to go ahead with the case, shouting "Death to Christians!" "Abdul Rahman must be killed. Islam demands it," said senior cleric Faiez Mohammed, "The Christian foreigners occupying Afghanistan are attacking our religion." Similar protests are now expected in Kabul and some imams called for Afghans to kill Rahman in an act of vigilante justice if he were to be freed. Police security forces are being deployed in central locations in anticipation of further protests.


Ah, "Death to Christians." Turns out it's a pretty catchy tune, along with that other top hit, "Death to Jews." From Saudi Arabian TV in 2004:


On May 24, Sheik Dr. Ahmad Abd Al-Latif, a professor at Um Al-Qura University, was asked the following question on Saudi channel TV1: "Some imams and preachers call for Allah to annihilate the Jews and those who help them, and the Christians and those who support them... Is it permitted according to Islamic law?"

Professor Al-Latif responded: "What made them curse the Jews is that the Jews are oppressors. ... The same goes for the Christians, because of their cruel aggression against Islamic countries ... while the truth is that this is a crusading war whose goal is to harm Muslims. This is why a Muslim is allowed to curse the oppressors from among the Jews and Christians. ... Cursing the oppressing Jews and the oppressing and plundering Christians and the prayer that Allah will annihilate them is permitted."



From Hungary in 2004:


During a live programme on Christmas Eve a presenter from Tilos Radio, based in Budapest, suggested that all Christians should be exterminated.


And from Minsk, Belarus:


[T]he 17th century Holy Spirit Cathedral, the most revered Orthodox cathedral in Belarus, was vandalized with the slogans and symbols July 25 in an attack police and clergy agreed was the work of Satanists. The building, which was dynamited by Communists in 1936 but rebuilt after World War II, had inverted crosses and stars painted on it, along with slogans reading: "Death to Christians. No to Christians in Slav lands. I am Satan. I am the truth." Police have launched an investigation into what they describe as the first instance of church desecration in the former Soviet republic.


And here's an older one from AD 258:


Valerian issues edict ordering confiscation of property and death to Christians of high rank


And, as one Wall Street Journal writer noted right after September 11:


Instead of trying to think of ways to help the victims, the leadership of the Muslim community would rather wrap itself in the mantle of victimhood. Actually, that's not quite right: It is wrapping itself in the mantle of potential victimhood. The feared hate crimes have not materialized. No one is taking to the streets and shouting "Death to Muslims." No mosques have been burned to the ground.


Not so fast. From Arizona:


The Arizona Supreme Court ruled Friday that a newspaper cannot be sued for printing a letter that suggested Americans respond to attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq by going to the nearest mosque and killing the first five Muslims they see.


And in a games forum:


user: Death to Muslims

James R
Just this guy, you know? (8,995 posts) 02-08-06, 08:20 PM

You have been banned from sciforums due to your user name, which is an obvious attempt to provoke members of a particular religious group.

You are welcome to sign up under a more appropriate user name, but you will need to use a different email address.

Please consider the name you choose next time more carefully.



And some incidents are a little more violent:


In 1989, the R.S.S. and B.J.P., led by L.K. Advani, started a campaign to build a Hindu temple in the north Indian town of Ayodhya over what they believe was the birthplace of the god Rama. There was only one problem. A Muslim mosque, the Babri Masjid, already occupied the site, and had since the 16th century. The R.S.S. claimed that the Mogul emperor, Babur, destroyed an ancient Hindu temple to build the mosque. He may well have done so, since Mogul emperors destroyed thousands of Hindu temples during their conquest of north India, often replacing them with mosques.

In December 1992, B.J.P. leaders organized a mob of Hindus that demolished the Babri Masjid, while shouting “Death to Muslims.” At least 1,700 people, most of them Muslim, were murdered in the “riots” that followed. But these communal “riots” were actually organized genocidal massacres, that intentionally targeted victims because of their religious identity. In March 1993, Muslim terrorists retaliated with simultaneous bombings that killed over 300 civilians.



And how about death to atheists?


A Taylor police dispatcher took the call at precisely 12:44 p.m. on Oct. 18.

A 49-year-old man said he'd just blasted a man with a revolver and a shotgun because the man said he didn't believe in God.

The dispatcher said the alleged shooter told him he'd just shot "the devil himself" and was still armed and standing over the body of the 62-year-old victim "in case he moved."

"I want to make sure he's gone," the alleged shooter told the dispatcher.

The dispatcher asked the suspect how many times he shot the victim.

"Hopefully enough," was the suspect's chilling reply, according to the dispatcher....

On the way to the police station, the suspect told police "he did not want to deal with anyone that did not believe in God," according to the report....

The suspect said the victim had told him there was nothing he could say that would convince the 62-year-old to believe in God.

Following this discussion, the suspect said, he went into another room and removed his shirt. Then he shaved his face.

He tried once more to convince the victim to believe in God, but this time, he had the shotgun.

"How long would it take you to believe in God?" the suspect said he asked the victim.

"Not until I hear Gabriel blow his horn," the victim allegedly replied, while tipping his hat.

That's when the suspect shot him.

"I did it because he is evil; he was not a believer," the suspect told police....

At the police station, the suspect commented that he believed there is a God.

Then, looking at the floor, he seemed to have second thoughts: "Maybe there's not," he said.



In the interests of self-preservation, I'm going back to the "death to Christians" theme. Andrew Oh-Willeke has observed:


The people of Afghanistan have greeted American troops with cheering crowds and flowers.

The cheering crowds have been chanting: "Death to Christians!"

The flowers have been poppies....

I wonder if President Bush can say, when he reflects on his adventure in Afghanistan that he "saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." Genesis, Chapter 1, Verse 31. Or, in the words he prefers: "Mission Accomplished!"



The Worshipping Christian's blog has been covering the Abdul Rahman issue. In a recent post, the blog quotes from another article:


[The West] may be able to help topple an unwanted regime and bring new people to power, and even write a new constitution, but it cannot change the local mentality overnight. Western democracy cannot take root in traditional Eastern society. The West has been outraged by the plight of Rahman, but the Islamic world has hardly paid much attention to the story.


Of course, the article writer then contradicts the statement above, to a point:


The Arabic television network Aljazeera's website reported blitz polls in Afghanistan showing that the majority of the respondents were for executing Rahman. According to the TV channel, Afghan judges reject Western calls for freeing the man as interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan....

The only Islamic organization to report the scandal was Aljazeera. There are several reasons for this. To begin with, there are too many other problems, including human rights violations, in the Islamic world. When regarded against the backdrop of Iraqi developments, the trial of Rahman is not news at all. After all, he could save himself, but who will save Iraqis? Then, the issue of apostates in many Islamic, including Arab, countries is too painful to be discussed publicly.

"What could people think about Christian converts when Sunnis say Shiites are apostates?" asked Manal al Nahas, a journalist with the Arabic daily Al Hayat.

However, despite the complicated attitude towards converts, many Muslims, in particular in Lebanon, still think that the death penalty is a much too severe punishment in such cases. Islam and the Islamic world have many faces.



Later, writing in his/her own voice, the blogger makes this interesting statement:


Gotta love thouse [sic] peace lovin' muslims...NOT.


Actually, you do gotta love 'em. For the Bible tells you so (Lev 19:18; Mt 22:37-40; Gal 5:14; whether you're Pauline or Jamesian or whatever).

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Paul - Inerrant, Inspired, or Idiotic? 



"Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. Its them twisting it that ruined it for me."

-John Lennon



On Saturday March 18, I linked to (but did not comment on) a section of a web page entitled "Exposing Paul's Lies" from the "Answering Christianity" website, a Muslim site.

Some of the things that are "exposed":


There are many, many other links, but that's enough for now. In response, two verses come to mind: John 8:58 and Matthew 19:23-26 - the former stating Christ's divinity (and not written by Paul), and the latter stating the impossibility of human perfection (again, not written by Paul).

Another source is cited here - a document at sullivan-county.com entitled "Why did the Apostles Reject Paul?" The author is self-described as a follower of "Jesus's successor, James the Just." Excerpts:


I assure you that when I first addressed the issue of the validity of Paul's apostleship, it was very difficult for me to find the courage to disagree with what everyone seemed to accept as the truth. I'm happy to say that the effort proved worthwhile....

Jesus spent years living with and teaching a group of twelve Apostles. Paul's attitude towards these Apostles can be found in [Galatians 1]....As this passage makes clear, Paul did not avail himself of the opportunity to learn from those whom Jesus taught face to face. Paul instead claimed that his revelation came directly from God, making instruction from humans unnecessary for him. Given this attitude, it would not be surprising if Paul did more talking than listening during the fifteen days he spent with Peter....Paul sneers the three chief Apostles: James, Cephas (i.e. Simon Peter) and John, saying that they "seemed to be pillars" Galatians 2:9. Paul publicly rebukes Peter (Galatians 2:14), scolds Barnabas (Galatians 2:13), and claims "For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles" 2 Corinthians 11:5. And in 2 Corinthians 12:11, Paul claims, "in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing."...

"For all the Law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself." Galatians 5:14, also see Romans 13:9, in which the sentiment is repeated. Gamaliel, the Pharisee, Hillel the Pharisee's grandson, taught the same thing. Hillel was one of the founding fathers of Phariseeism, and is favorably mentioned in the Talmud.

"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Matthew 22:37-40. Also see Mark 12:29-31.

This is the most glaring contradiction between the teaching of Paul and Jesus. On this issue, Paul sides with the Pharisees....Based on the general direction that Paul took religion, it is most likely that the omission of an explicit command to love God was deliberate.



The author then take question with Paul's views on the Sabbath (Romans 14:5-6), unclean foods (Romans 14:14), justification by faith (Romans 4:2-5), submission to the governing authorities (Romans 13:1-2), divorce (I Corinthians 7:10-11), and other topics. The author then casts doubt on Acts (and therefore Luke) because it was written by a follower of Paul. Then it's time to hit Luther the Nazi:


Luther wanted the Book of James and the Book of Revelation eliminated from the New Testament. Not coincidentally, these books display the least Pauline influence of any books in the New Testament. That Luther envisioned a world in which the secular authorities are free to brutally exploit the populace, and in which Jews are driven away or killed, is clear. That these attitudes have their root in Paul's writings is equally clear....

It is not surprising that nearly every society that has taken Paul as its primary spiritual authority has adopted political tyranny and governmental brutality. Such societies include Germany from Luther to Hitler, Czarist Russia, the and slaveholding tidewater South.



The author concludes with a view of something that I guess could be called Jamesism:


C.S. Lewis once wrote that the teachings of Jesus tend to be harsh, and that Paul's writings soften their impact. This is true. But is it good? Do you want those in power to be held accountable to a high moral standard with harsh penalties, or a low moral standard with slap-on-the-wrist penalties? If a man is deciding whether to rape his niece, is it more beneficial for him to read "All things are permissible" (1 Corinthians 6:12) or "Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire." (Matthew 7:19)?

James the Just, in James 1:12, stated that salvation belongs to those who love God, who are patient under trial, and who stand up under temptation. Jesus stated that the most important command contained in the Law is the duty to love God with all your heart. Yes, the duty to love God--a duty which Paul omitted from his teaching--is more difficult than merely believing. Real Christianity is a hard road to follow, certainly harder than the salvation through belief that Paul preached.

Jesus and James asked for more than just belief. They asked for more than just a love for neighbor. They asked people to love God, to love Him passionately, to love Him so deeply that patience under trial and the resistance of temptation would inevitably follow. Yes, good works could be expected to follow too. But, in their eyes, the key, the cornerstone, the seed, the necessary and the sufficient condition for salvation is a passionate, whole-hearted love for God.



And, now that the author has effectively eliminated all of Paul's works plus Acts and Luke from the authoritative canon, it's time to cut 2 Peter out also:


Paul rejected the authority of the Apostles that Jesus appointed, and the Apostles that Jesus appointed rejected Paul. Paul lacked authority to preach, and his own letters make it clear that he did not possess a letter of recommendation from the authorities that Jesus instituted.


Therefore I guess this letter of recommendation must be spurious:


2 Peter 3:14-16 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

14So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.



But if you think that Paul is under attack from non-Christians and semi-Christians, look at what we Christians have done to him. Here's something from Fuller:


In 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 Paul teaches that a woman is subordinate to a man, and that in showing this submission she reflects a man's glory, as the man, submitting to Christ, reflects the glory of God. In keeping with this patriarchal submission, 14:33b-35 teaches that women are to keep silence in a church's stated meetings, and are to receive help in understanding Christian teachings from their husbands at home.

Hartwig Thyen...is distressed to find Paul teaching patriarchalism and backing it up with theological arguments in these two passages in 1 Corinthians....Thyen notes that this is generally in keeping with the rabbinic idea that women are subordinate to men. For him this means that "[Paul] has given his opinion here 'according to the flesh' . . . and not according to the Spirit," because "his exegesis in which only the man is made after the image of God, and is the one to represent the divine glory, is unequivocally opposed by Genesis 1:27, which sets the pattern for construing Genesis 2 by explicitly saying that Man [Mensch] as man and woman was created in the image of God" (pp. 184f.)....

Thyen makes not even one attempt to show how Paul could have been consistent in supporting patriarchalism in 1 Corinthians....Why did he not explore the possibility that Paul was accommodating his teaching, for the time being, to patriarchalism, so as to channel all the church's energies toward the crucial task of bringing the attitude and behavior of Christian Jews and Gentiles into harmony with "neither Jew nor Greek"? Accommodation was a foundation of Paul's ethical theory....Consequently, before concluding that Paul was teaching "according to the flesh" in enforcing patriarchalism, Thyen should have considered whether or not 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 and 14:33b-35 are not an instance of temporary accommodation to what is less than consistent with the baptismal implication of "neither male nor female."

Like Thyen, Jewett affirms that Paul's teaching about women in 1 Corinthians finds its roots in rabbinism....But unlike Thyen, Jewett set forth the outline of a theodicy for why it was necessary for God to accommodate himself, temporarily, to the evil of patriarchalism....Then in regard to the all-male apostolate, Jewett argues that indeed "our Lord's intent, through the preaching of the apostles, was to redeem mankind and so create a new humanity in which the traditional antagonism of the sexes would be reconciled." But since this redemption could not be accomplished by a "simple confrontation" with patriarchalism. "one can understand, then, why [Jesus] chose only men to herald the truth of the Gospel in the Greco-Roman world of the first century" (p. 169)....But from God's point of view such patriarchalism was only temporary: someday the churches would come to understand the full implication that "in Christ there is neither male nor female." So Jewett concludes his book by saying, "While Paul went all the way in living out the truth that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, he by no means denied in his life style [of treating individual women as peers] the implications of the further truth that in Christ there is no male and female. . . But [now] it is high time that the church press on to the full implementation of the apostle's vision concerning the equality of the sexes in Christ" (p. 147)....



Of course, there's a big assumption in the argument that Galatians 3:28 is permanent while the passages in 1 Corinthians are temporary. What if it's the other way around?

Other thoughts?

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Hells Angels and Trademark Infringement 


This is actually the SECOND case of Hell's Angeles [OE 3/28 - oops] trademark infringement that I've read. The first one occurred when Dan Ackroyd and Michael O'Donoghue were on Saturday Night Live. The Hells Angels expressed their concern when their "colors" appeared in this sketch:


"Johnny Angel"

Summary: Teenaged Dyan (Dyan Cannon) is dying to make an impression on "Johnny Angel", whom her parents (John Belushi, Gilda Radner) are horrified to learn are three members of the Hells Angels (Garrett Morris, Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase). As Dyan bursts into song, the Hells Angels tear the house apart and tie her parents up with rope.



No problem with the content - just the use of the colors.

The second, more recent trademark infringement case involves another media company:


Hells Angels has sued Walt Disney Co., claiming that a planned movie about a group of motorcycle riders called "Wild Hogs" infringes on its trademark name and skull logo....

The Hells Angels Motorcycle Corporation was formed in 1948 in California's San Bernardino area and describes itself as a group of motorcycle enthusiasts.

Law enforcement officials have frequently linked the group to drug trafficking, racketeering and other criminal activities, but it was also recently paid $990,000 by the Santa Clara County for a botched raid of the club's property in 1998.



More information in The Trademark Blog, including a Harley Davidson trademark that may or may not become material.

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Like the old saying, but not really 


I can't remember who came up with this gem (which I paraphase):


If you were accused of being a Christian, would they have enough evidence to convict you?


Well, here's the latest in the Abdul Rahman case:


An Afghan court on Sunday dismissed a case against a man who converted from Islam to Christianity because of a lack of evidence, and he will be released soon, an official said.


But I suspect they aren't looking real hard:


Gen. Shahmir Amirpur...said Rahman had also been begging his guards to provide him with a Bible.


Meanwhile, he's in prison, and was recently moved from one location to another:


Earlier Sunday he was moved to a notorious maximum-security prison outside Kabul that is also home to hundreds of Taliban and al-Qaida militants. The move to Policharki Prison came after detainees threatened his life at an overcrowded police holding facility in central Kabul, a court official said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.


From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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Friday, March 24, 2006

The Mystery of Omniscient Repentance 


Scriptures that challenge one's mind need to be examined.

While reading a post in Emmaus Journey, I was motivated to look up Exodus 32:14. Here's how it reads in the King James Version:


Exodus 32:14 (King James Version)
King James Version (KJV)
Public Domain

14And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.



The NIV words this verse as follows:


Exodus 32:14 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

14 Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.



Either way, you have a picture of God changing his mind. Jesusmyth states the problem as follows:


The Bible presents an interesting picture of God, i.e., a god who never changes (Malachi 3:6) but actually does frequently change his mind and even regrets what he's done ('repents') - Genesis 6:6,7, Exodus 32:14, 1 Samuel 15:35, 2 Samuel 24:16, 1 Chronicles 21:l5, Jeremiah l8:8,10, 26:3,l3,l9, 42:l0, Ezekiel 24:14, Joel 2:13, Amos 7:3. Although it is to be noted that Numbers 23:19 and 1 Samuel 15:2 say that God never repents.


Christian Apologetics Research Ministry says the following:


Different Bible's [sic] translate this verse differently. The NASB says, "the Lord changed His mind." The NIV and NKJV say "The Lord relented." The KJV, RSV, and the 1901 ASV say, "The Lord repented." The Hebrew word at issue here is for relent/repent is נָחַם (nacham). There are 108 occurrences in the Old Testament. The KJV translates it as “comfort” 57 times, “repent” 41 times, “comforter” nine times, and “ease” once.

The issue, of course, is whether or not God actually goes through a process of changing His mind due to learning something as the open theists would maintain. But, is God actually reacting to knew information or is He working on our level, in our reference, for our benefit?...

[I]t is apparent that Moses disobeyed God's instruction to leave God alone (v. 10). Instead of Moses listening to God, he pleads with God to spare Israel and God relents. Why? What is the significance of God allowing Himself to be swayed by the interceding work of Moses on behalf of Israel? Why did God not ignore Moses' request and go ahead and destroy the nation?



CARM's explanation: Jesus.


Jesus says that the Bible is about Him. Certainly, such an important figure of Moses must reflect Jesus in some way, and he does. As Moses interceded for his people, Jesus also intercedes for His. God listened to Moses, because God would listen to Jesus.


The Skeptic's Annotated Bible presents two lists - one containing examples of God NOT repenting, and the other containing examples of God repenting.

Christian Courier responds as follows:


Scripture teaches the concept of God’s immutability, i.e., the notion that his essence, character, and will are stable and perfect. Thus, while ordinary things undergo transformation, the changeless Creator does not....To suggest that God is whimsical – constantly changing his mind, as such fluctuations are characteristic of humanity – is to reflect upon the very nature of divine being.

The fact that God is omniscient also enters into this subject. The concept of omniscience suggests that the Lord knows everything there is to know – past, present, and future. He has never “learned” anything, nor has he “discovered” a new fact. He is never “surprised” by what men may do. He knows our thoughts....One of the dramatic differences between the true God, and those that are false, i.e., mere inventions of illusory minds, is Jehovah’s ability to see the future....In view of this amazing attribute, it is impossible to conclude that the Creator of the Universe vacillates back and forth, doing one thing now, then later changing his mind – in any literal sense of that expression.

It is a fact, however, that the Scriptures frequently employ figures of speech that seem to suggest that God alters his actions in response to man’s behavior. The passage in Exodus 32 is an excellent example of this sort of phraseology.

While Moses was upon the heights of Sinai, receiving the Ten Commandments, the children of Israel, in the region below, made an idol, a molten calf, and proclaimed it as their deliverer from Egypt. The corrupt act was wholly antagonistic to the will of God, and the Lord proclaimed his intention to “consume” them. Moses, as a mediator, interceded and pled with Jehovah to not destroy them....

The term “repented” reflects a figure of speech, common to many languages, known as anthropopathism (literally, man feelings). This is an idiom by which divine activity is described symbolically in terms of human emotion. It is rather similar to the kindred figure, anthropomorphism (man form) by which God is described as having physical parts (e.g., eyes, hands, etc.) even though he is not a physical being (Jn. 4:24; Lk. 24:39).

Anthropopathism, therefore, is a figure of speech by which human feelings or emotions are ascribed to God, in order to accommodate man’s ignorance of the unfathomable intentions and operations of deity (cf. Rom. 11:33-36).

It must be understood, therefore, that though certain biblical passages speak of the Lord being “changeless,” while others represent him as “changing” (in response to human conduct), that different senses are in view. In light of this fact, the “discrepancy” problem dissolves. But when one does not understand some of the common figures of speech utilized by the Bible writers, under the guiding influence of the Holy Spirit, he most certainly will draw many faulty conclusions – sometimes very dangerous ones.

Human languages are punctuated with dramatic figures of speech. This phenomenon is no less true in the case of the Scriptures than it is with other literary productions. A failure to recognize this principle leads to numerous flawed ideas.



For example, the idea that Exodus 32:14 proves that God does not exist:


If God is omniscient, he should NEVER change his mind. Think about that carefully. How could someone who knows the future change his mind? Changing his mind means that he did not know what he was going to do or what was going to happen, and shows his uncertainty. But the bible is full of instances where God changes his mind. For example, first is Exodus 32:14. After the incident when God's Chosen People worshipped the Golden Calf, God decided that He would destroy them all, and raise up some other nation, but Moses begged and pleaded on their behalf, "and the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people." Now consider this for a moment. God knows all things, past and present, including His own future decisions. Therefore, did He really intend to destroy the Israelites? Or did He just bear false witness?


Dan Barker says:


PAUL SAID, "God is not the author of confusion," (I Corinthians 14:33), yet never has a book produced more confusion than the bible! There are hundreds of denominations and sects, all using the "inspired Scriptures" to prove their conflicting doctrines.

Why do trained theologians differ? Why do educated translators disagree over Greek and Hebrew meanings? Why all the confusion? Shouldn't a document that was "divinely inspired" by an omniscient and omnipotent deity be as clear as possible?

"If the trumpet give an uncertain sound," Paul wrote in I Corinthians 14:8, "who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air." Exactly! Paul should have practiced what he preached. For almost two millennia, the bible has been producing a most "uncertain sound."

The problem is not with human limitations, as some claim. The problem is the bible itself. People who are free of theological bias notice that the bible contains hundreds of discrepancies. Should it surprise us when such a literary and moral mish-mash, taken seriously, causes so much discord?



And where was this quoted? At submission.org, a site dedicated to Islam. And if Islamic law is always clear, then either CAIR or the Afghan clerics are sadly mistaken about whether or not Muslim apostates deserve death.

Back to Christianity. And as a reminder that no Christian is perfect, I'm now quoting from Pat Robertson's cbn.com. (If your religion is perfect, don't worry - Christ wasn't sent to the perfect people; he was sent to us.) Here's what Dr. J. Rodman Williams says:


How does God's unchanging nature and His repentance relate to each other?

God is One who does not change. The universe is constantly undergoing a transition from one stage to another and human existence is marked by continuing alteration. With God there is no such mutability. "For I the LORD do not change" (Malachi 3:6). Thus does God transcend everything in His creation.

God is the Rock. He does not fluctuate from one event to the next. There is constancy and stability in all that He is and does. Hence, he is not evolving from one stage to another. There is no movement from some "primordial" nature to a "consequent" nature in any aspect of His being. God is not a becoming God, a growing God. God does not change. He is "the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change [literally "with whom…change has no place"] (James 1:17). Likewise, the New Testament declares that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever" (Hebrews 13:8). God, whether Father or Son or Spirit, is One who changes not.

In God there is dependability and constancy in His being, acts, and purposes. The Old Testament sometimes speaks of God as "repenting" or changing His mind (e.g., Exodus 32:14). From the overall picture, the outward "repentance" does not signify a change in God's activity, but only His dependable response to man's behavior. God invariably acts the same: when man is obedient, God blesses; when man disobeys, God punishes; when man confesses his sin, God forgives. He "repents"; that is, He turns in the other direction.

Hence, God's repentance is not really a change in God, but it is His bringing to bear on the human situation some other aspect of His being and nature. God remains the same throughout.

It is important not to view God changelessness as that of hard, impersonal immobility. God is not like a statue, fixed and cold, but, quite the contrary, He relates to people. He is not the "unmoved Mover" but constantly moves upon and among men and nations. The flux and flow of life are not far away and far beneath Him. Indeed, He freely involved Himself in the life of a fickle and inconstant people to work out His purpose, and in the Incarnation he plunged totally into the maelstrom of human events. God in His own changelessness has experienced all the vicissitudes of human existence. This is the God-far from immobile and distant-who does not change.



From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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That's gross 


OK, let's move to real press releases. The Embassy of Afghanistan has issued this press release (also here) regarding Abdul Rahman:


Embassy of Afghanistan: Response to Public Inquiries About Mr. Abdul Rahman

To: National Desk

Contact: Joshua R. Gross, Media Relations Officer, Embassy of Afghanistan, Washington, 202-483-6410, ext.802, 203-895-7734 cell, gross@embassyofafghanistan.org

WASHINGTON, March 22 /Christian Wire Service/ -– The Embassy of Afghanistan greatly appreciates public concern about Mr. Abdul Rahman. We have received a significant number of inquiries about Mr. Rahman’s case, which initially involved a civil lawsuit in child custody filed by his family.

Please note that the Government of Afghanistan is fully aware of and pursuing the best ways to resolve Mr. Rahman’s case judicially. It is too early to draw any conclusion about the punishment, and we appreciate public understanding of the sensitivity of religious issues.

Afghanistan’s judicial system is currently evaluating questions raised about the mental fitness of Mr. Rahman, the results of which may end the proceedings. Hence we kindly request that the judicial process be given time to resolve Mr. Rahman’s case.

The Constitution of Afghanistan provides protection for freedom of religion. The Government of Afghanistan will ensure that the constitutional rights of its citizens, international principles, and the due judicial process are respected and implemented.



Regarding the last paragraph, the Government of Afghanistan, and for that matter Islam itself, has no problem with freedom of religion per se. If I go to Afghanistan, I will not automatically receive a death sentence. However, freedom of religion after renouncing Islam is another matter entirely, which I addressed here. Similarly, the mental competence issue, which may be the Afghan government's way to dodge this bullet, may not work here either, because even those proclaimed as Afghan moderates state that "[t]he government is playing games." (See quote from cleric Abdul Raoulf in this article.)

Here is some information from the Afghanistan Embassy web page on travel:


Afghanistan is an Islamic country. An estimated 84% of the population is Sunni, following the Hanafi school of jurisprudence; the remainder is predominantly Shi'a, mainly Hazara. Despite attempts during the years of communist rule to secularize Afghan society, Islamic practices pervade all aspects of life. In fact, Islam served as the principal basis for expressing opposition to the communists and the Soviet invasion. Likewise, Islamic religious tradition and codes, together with traditional practices, provide the principal means of controlling personal conduct and settling legal disputes. Excluding urban populations in the principal cities, most Afghans are divided into tribal and other kinship-based groups, which follow traditional customs and religious practices.


Nothing about the constitution on THIS page.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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Ontario Vineyard Village Association Press Release on Spanish Language Learners in Mexican Schools 


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ONTARIO VINEYARD VILLAGE ASSOCIATION ADDRESSES LANGUAGE ISSUES
Proposal Strengthens Opportunities in the Western Hemisphere

GUASTI, CA and BARROW, AK – March 24 2006 - The Ontario Vineyard Village Association (OVVA) strongly endorsed the enactment of a "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB) act in Mexico that provides benefits to Spanish language learners (SLLs).

Ontario Emperor, First Vice President of the Association, stated, "I believe that such an act holds considerable promise for closing the achievement gap between SLLs and other students. I strongly endorse the creation of a road map for policy-makers and school administrators for implementing a law which effectively addresses the needs of SLLs.

"A Mexican NCLB can close the achievement gap between SLLs and their peers. But it will not be successful if these children are exempted from many of the law’s provisions," stated Ontario Emperor. "The answer is not to water down such a law but to hold schools accountable for the academic progress of all students, including students who are learning Spanish.

"Instead of implementing NCLB, too Mexican states are ignoring the need to monitor progress of their SLL students. That is unacceptable. It is time to acknowledge that we have crossed the bridge on accountability and standards. The question is not if we implement this law, but how we implement it so that all students can get a better education in our public schools.

"Schools cannot be considered successful until they address the needs of all students. This includes Spanish language learners, who have a long history of being overlooked. It is vital to the future of the Mexican nation that all children be able to achieve so they are prepared for college and the 21st century workforce."

In response to claims that there is no need for the government of Mexico to address the needs of English and French speakers, the OVVA will engage in vicious attacks on those who believe its solution is too extreme. "It’s for the children," said the Emperor in an insincerely emotional voice.

Ontario Vineyard Village Association
c/o KOER Synthetica Radio 87.1 MHz
1 Empire Way Suite 2525
Guasti, CA 91743

Ontario Vineyard Village Association
200 La Jolla Street Suite 2525
Barrow, AK 99723

###

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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Ontario Vineyard Village Association Press Release on Mexican Immigration 


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ONTARIO VINEYARD VILLAGE ASSOCIATION ADDRESSES INTERNATIONAL PROBLEMS
Offers Only Real Solution to Mexican Immigration

GUASTI, CA and BARROW, AK – March 24 2006 - In an unprecedented move, the Ontario Vineyard Village Association (OVVA) has proposed a revolutionary idea to solve Mexican immigration issues.

According to Ontario Emperor, newly-appointed First Vice President of the Association, this proposal represents an unprecedented expansion of the scope of activities for the Association. Ontario Emperor states, “The Ontario Vineyard Village Association, unlike the Ontario Mountain Village Association, is not a single issue group. While the OMVA limits itself to banning Wal-Mart in northwest Ontario, California, but doesn’t address the problems caused by polluting firms in northeast Ontario, the OVVA has worked hard to address a variety of issues of major importance to the residents of Ontario.”

Recent proposals by the OVVA include:
  • The championing of a minimum wage of four dollars and fifty six cents a day to restore our economic health and to allow our businesses to be competitive with businesses in neighboring areas.

  • A proposal to ban all emissions of carbon dioxide throughout the city of Ontario.

  • A previous complementary proposal to ban use of all fossil fuels throughout the city of Ontario.

Because the OVVA has become expert in telling people in our own country what to do, the organization is now branching out and to tell people in other countries what to do, in accordance with modern neo-conservative views of right thinking.

As a first step in shaping the world that most of us live in, the Ontario Vineyard Village Association is calling for immediate relaxtion of Mexican immigration restrictions. Note that this is not a call for the U.S. government to relax restrictions on the immigration of Mexicans. Instead, it is a call for the Mexican government to relax restrictions on the immigration of Americans.

Specifically, the Ontario Vineyard Village Association is proposing the following:
  • Immediate removal of all anti-humanitarian barriers to entry to Mexico, including all fences, border guards, and similar restrictions on free movement.

  • Immediate repeal of all fascist land ownership restrictions that discriminate against people solely because of their undocumented status.

  • Free medical care for all undocumented immigrants.

  • Free education for all undocumented immigrants.

  • End of the racist language restrictions of the Mexican government, with immediate availability of all services in English and French.

  • End of the racist language restrictions of Mexican businesses, with immediate legalization of the use of English and French in all business transactions.

  • End of any voting restrictions that discriminate against undocumented immigrants, in order to preserve the human right of self-determination.

  • Driver’s licenses!

  • An immediate end to enforcement of unjust laws which deprive undocumented immigrants of human rights.


As always, the OVVA will engage in vicious attacks on those who believe its solution is too extreme. "It’s for the children," said the Emperor in an insincerely emotional voice.

Ontario Vineyard Village Association
c/o KOER Synthetica Radio 87.1 MHz
1 Empire Way Suite 2525
Guasti, CA 91743

Ontario Vineyard Village Association
200 La Jolla Street Suite 2525
Barrow, AK 99723

###

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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