Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Christian perspective on the bailouts

Postponing Reality By Thomas SowellDecember 17, 2008
Some of us were raised to believe that reality is inescapable. But that just shows how far behind the times we are. Today, reality is optional. At the very least, it can be postponed.
Kids in school are not learning? Not a problem. Just promote them on to the next grade anyway. Call it "compassion," so as not to hurt their "self-esteem."
Can't meet college admissions standards after they graduate from high school? Denounce those standards as just arbitrary barriers to favor the privileged, and demand that exceptions be made.
Can't do math or science after they are in college? Denounce those courses for their rigidity and insensitivity, and create softer courses that the students can pass to get their degrees.
Once they are out in the real world, people with diplomas and degrees-- but with no real education-- can hit a wall. But by then the day of reckoning has been postponed for 15 or more years. Of course, the reckoning itself can last the rest of their lives.
The current bailout extravaganza is applying the postponement of reality democratically-- to the rich as well as the poor, to the irresponsible as well as to the responsible, to the inefficient as well as to the efficient. It is a triumph of the non-judgmental philosophy that we have heard so much about in high-toned circles.
We are told that the collapse of the Big Three automakers in Detroit would have repercussions across the country, causing mass layoffs among firms that supply the automobile makers with parts, and shutting down automobile dealerships from coast to coast.
A renowned economist of the past, J.A. Schumpeter, used to refer to progress under capitalism as "creative destruction"-- the replacement of businesses that have outlived their usefulness with businesses that carry technological and organizational creativity forward, raising standards of living in the process.
Indeed, this is very much like what happened a hundred years ago, when that new technological wonder, the automobile, wreaked havoc on all the forms of transportation built up around horses.
For thousands of years, horses had been the way to go, whether in buggies or royal coaches, whether pulling trolleys in the cities or plows on the farms. People had bet their futures on something with a track record of reliable success going back many centuries.
Were all these people to be left high and dry? What about all the other people who supplied the things used with horses-- oats, saddles, horse shoes and buggies? Wouldn't they all go falling like dominoes when horses were replaced by cars?
Unfortunately for all the good people who had in good faith gone into all the various lines of work revolving around horses, there was no compassionate government to step in with a bailout or a stimulus package.
They had to face reality, right then and right there, without even a postponement.
Who would have thought that those who displaced them would find themselves in a similar situation a hundred years later?
Actually the automobile industry is not nearly in as bad a situation now as the horse-based industries were then. There is no replacement for the automobile anywhere on the horizon. Nor has the public decided to do without cars indefinitely.
While Detroit's Big Three are laying off thousands of workers, Toyota is hiring thousands of workers right here in America, where a substantial share of all our Toyotas are manufactured.
Will this save Detroit or Michigan? No.
Detroit and Michigan have followed classic liberal policies of treating businesses as prey, rather than as assets. They have helped kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. So have the unions. So have managements that have gone along to get along.
Toyota, Honda and other foreign automakers are not heading for Detroit, even though there are lots of experienced automobile workers there. They are avoiding the rust belts and the policies that have made those places rust belts.
A bailout of Detroit's Big Three would be only the latest in the postponements of reality. As for automobile dealers, they can probably sell Toyotas just as easily as they sold Chev vies. And Toyotas will require just as many tires per car, as well as other parts from automobile parts suppliers.
Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. His Web site is

You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sermon on Free Grace, by John Wesley

Free Grace.
Preached at Bristol, in the year 1740
Nothing but the strongest conviction, not only that what is here advanced is “the truth as it is in Jesus,” but also that I am indispensably obliged to declare this truth to all the world, could have induced me openly to oppose the sentiments of those whom I esteem for their work’s sake: At whose feet may I be found in the day of the Lord Jesus!
Should any believe it his duty to reply hereto, I have only one request to make, - Let whatsoever you do, be done in charity, in love, and in the spirit of meekness. Let your very disputing show that you have “put on, as the elect of God, bowels of mercies, gentleness, longsuffering:” that even according to this time it may be said, “See how these Christians love on another!”
Whereas a pamphlet, entitled, “Free Grace Indeed,” has been published against this Sermon; this is to inform the publisher, that I cannot answer his tract till he appears to be more in earnest. For I dare not speak of “the deep things of God” in the spirit of a prize-fighter or a stage-player.

‘He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32
1. How freely does God love the world! While we were yet sinners, “Christ died for the ungodly.” While we were “dead in sin,” God “spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all.” And how freely with him does he “give us all things!” Verily, FREE GRACE is all in all!
2. The grace or love of God, whence cometh our salvation, is FREE IN ALL, and FREE FOR ALL.
3. First. It is free IN ALL to whom it is given. It does not depend on any power or merit in man; no, not in any degree, neither in whole, nor in part. It does not in anywise depend either on the good works or righteousness of the receiver; not on anything he has done, or anything he is. It does not depend on his endeavors. It does not depend on his good tempers, or good desires, or good purposes and intentions; for all these flow from the free grace of God; they are the streams only, not the fountain. They are the fruits of free grace, and not the root. They are not the cause, but the effects of it. Whatsoever good is in man, or is done by man, God is the author and doer of it. Thus is his grace free in all; that is ,no way depending on any power or merit in man, but on God alone, who freely gave us his own Son, and “with him freely giveth us all things.”
4. But is it free FOR ALL, as well as IN ALL? To this some have answered, “no: It I free only for those whom God hath ordained to life; and they are but a little flock. The greater part of mankind God hath ordained to death; and it is not free for them. Then God hateth; and, therefore, before they were born, decreed they should die eternally. And this he absolutely decreed; because so was his good pleasure; because it was his sovereign will. Accordingly, they are born for this, --to be destroyed body and soul in hell. And they grow up under the irrevocable curse of God, without any possibility of redemption; for what grace God gives, he gives only for this, to increase, not prevent, their damnation.”
5. This is that decree of predestination. But methinks I hear one say, “This is not the predestination which I hold: I hold only the election of grace. What I believe is no more than this, --that God, before the foundation of the world, did elect a certain number of men to be justified, sanctified, and glorified. Now, all these will be saved, and none else; for the rest of mankind God leaves to themselves: So they follow the imaginations of their own hearts, which are only evil continually, and, waxing worse and worse are at length justly punished with everlasting destruction.”
6. Is this all the predestination which you hold? Consider; perhaps this in not all. Do not you believe God ordained them to this very thing? If so, you believe the whole decree; you hold predestination in the full sense which has been above described. But it may be you think you do not. Do not you then believe, God hardens the hearts of them that perish? Do not you believe, he (literally) hardened Pharaoh’s heart; and that for this end he raised him up, or created him? Why, this amounts to just the same thing. If you believe Pharaoh, or any one man upon earth, was created for this end, --to be damned, -- you hold all that has been said of predestination. And there is no need you should add, that God seconds his decree, which is supposed unchangeable and irresistible, by hardening the hearts of those vessels of wrath whom that decree had before fitted for destruction.
7. Well, but it may be you do not believe even this; you do not hold any decree of reprobation; you do not think God decrees any man to be damned, nor hardens, irresistibly fits him, for damnation; you only say, “God eternally decreed, that all being dead in sin, he would say to some of the dry bones, Live, and to others he would not; that, consequently, these should be made alive, and those abide in death, -- these should glorify God by their salvation, and those by their destruction.”
8. Is not this what you mean by the election of grace: If it be, I would ask one or two questions: Are any who are not thus elected saved? Or were any, from the foundation of the world? Is it possible any man should be saved unless he be thus elected: If you say, “No,” you are but where you was; you are not got one hair’s breadth farther; you still believe, that, in consequence of an unchangeable, irresistible decree of God, the greater part of mankind abide in death, without any possibility of redemption; inasmuch as none can save them but God, and he will not save them. You believe he hath absolutely decreed not to save them; and what is this but decreeing to damn them? It is, in effect, neither more nor less; it comes to the same thing; for if you are dead, and altogether unable to make yourself alive, then, if God has absolutely decreed he will make only others alive, and not you, he hath absolutely decreed your everlasting death; you are absolutely consigned to damnation. So then though you use softer words than some, you mean the self-same thing; and God’s decree concerning the election of grace, according to your account of it, amount to neither more nor less than what others call God’s decree of reprobation.
9. Call it therefore by whatever name you please, election, preterition, predestination, or reprobation, it comes in the end to the same thing. The sense of all is plainly this, --by virtue of an eternal, unchangeable, irresistible decree of God, one part of mankind are infallibly saved, and the rest infallibly damned; it being impossible that any of the former should be damned, or that any of the latter should be saved.
10. But if this be so, then is all preaching vain. It is needless to them that are elected; for they, whether with preaching or without, will infallibly be saved. Therefore, the end of preaching –to save souls –is void with regard to them; and it is useless to them that are not elected, for they cannot possibly be saved: They, whether with preaching or without, will infallibly be damned. The end of preaching is therefore void with regard to them likewise; so that in either case our preaching is vain, as your hearing is also vain.
11. This, then, is a plain proof that the doctrine of predestination is not a doctrine of God, because it makes void the ordinance of God; and God is not divided against himself. A Second is, that it directly tends to destroy that holiness which is the end of all the ordinances of God. I do not say, none who hold it are holy; (for God is of tender mercy to those who are unavoidably entangled in errors of any kind;) but that the doctrine itself, --every man is either elected or not elected from eternity, and that the one must inevitably be save, and the other inevitably damned, --has a manifest tendency to destroy holiness in general; for it wholly takes away those first motives to follow after it, so frequently proposed in Scripture, the hope of future reward and fear of punishment, the hope of heaven and fear of hell. That these shall go away into everlasting punishment, and those into life eternal, is no motive to him to struggle for life who believes his lot is cast already; it is not reasonable for him so to do, if he thinks he is unalterably adjudged either to life or death. You will say, “But he knows not whether it is life or death. What then? –this helps not the matter; for if a sick man knows that he must unavoidably die, or unavoidably recover, though he knows not which, it is unreasonable for him to take any physic at all. He might justly say, (and so I have heard some speak, both in bodily sickness and in spiritual,) “If I am ordained to life, I shall live; if to death, I shall die; so I need not trouble myself about it” So directly does this doctrine tend to shut the very gate of holiness in general, --to hinder unholy men from ever approaching thereto, or striving to enter in thereat.
12. As directly does this doctrine tend to destroy several particular branches of holiness. Such are meekness and love, -- love, I mean, of our enemies, -- of the evil and unthankful. I say not, that none who hold it have meekness and love; (for as is the power of God, so is his mercy;) but that it naturally tends to inspire, or increase, a sharpness or eagerness of temper, which is quite contrary to the meekness of Christ; as then especially appears, when they are opposed on this head. And it as naturally inspires contempt or coldness towards those whom we suppose outcasts from God. “O but,” you say, “I suppose no particular man a reprobate.” You mean you would not if you could help it: But you cannot help sometimes applying your general doctrine to particular persons: The enemy of souls will apply it for you. You know how often he has done so. But you rejected the thought with abhorrence. True; as soon as you could; but how did it sour and sharpen your spirit of love which you then felt towards that poor sinner, whom you supposed or suspected, whether you would or no, to have been hated of God from eternity.
13. Thirdly. This doctrine tends to destroy the comfort of religion, the happiness of Christianity. This is evident as to all those who believe themselves to be reprobated, or who only suspect or fear it. All the great and precious promises are lost to them; they afford them no ray of comfort: For they are not the elect of God; therefore they have neither lot nor portion in them. This is an effectual bar to their finding any comfort or happiness, even in that religion whose ways are designed to be “ways of pleasantness, and all her paths peace.”
14. And as to you who believe yourselves the elect of God, what is your happiness? I hope, not a notion, a speculative belief, a bare opinion of any kind; but a feeling possession of God in your heart, wrought in you by the Holy Ghost, or, the witness of God’s Spirit with your spirit that you are a child of God. This, otherwise termed “the full assurance of faith, “is the true ground of a Christian’s happiness. And it does indeed imply a full assurance that all your past sins are forgiven, and that you are now a child of God. But it does not necessarily imply a full assurance of our future perseverance. I do not say this is never joined to it, but that it is not necessarily implied therein; for many have the one who have not the other.
15. Now, this witness of the Spirit experience shows to be much obstructed by this doctrine; and not only in those who, believing themselves reprobated, by this belief thrust it far from them, but even in them that have tasted of that good gift, who yet have soon lost it again, and fallen back into doubts, and fears, and darkness, --horrible darkness, that might be felt! And I appeal to any of you who hold this doctrine, to say, between God and your own hearts, whether you have not often a return of doubts and fears concerning your election or perseverance! If you ask, “Who has not?” I answer, Very few of those that hold this doctrine; but many, very many, of those that hold it not, in all parts of the earth; --many of these have enjoyed the uninterrupted witness of his Spirit, the continual light of his countenance, from the moment wherein they first believed, for many months or years, to this day.
16. That assurance of faith which these enjoy excludes all doubt and fear. It excludes all kinds of doubt and fear concerning their future perseverance; though it is not properly, as was said before, an assurance of what is future, but only of what now is. And this needs not for its support a speculative belief, that whoever is once ordained to life must live; for it is wrought from hour to hour, by the mighty power of God, “by the Holy Ghost which is given unto them.” And therefore that doctrine is not of God, because it tends to obstruct, if not destroy, this great work of the Holy Ghost, whence flows the chief comfort of religion, the happiness of Christianity.
17. Again: How uncomfortable a thought is this, that thousands and millions of men, without any preceding offence or fault of theirs, were unchangeably doomed to everlasting burnings! How peculiarly uncomfortable must it be to those who have put on Christ! To those who, being filled with bowels of mercy, tenderness, and compassion, could even “wish themselves accursed for their brethren’s sake!”
18. Fourthly. This uncomfortable doctrine directly tends to destroy our zeal for good works. And this it does, First, as it naturally tends (according to what was observed before to destroy our love to the greater part of mankind, namely, the evil and unthankful. For whatever lessens our love, must so far lessen our desire to do them good. This it does, Secondly , as it cuts off one of the strongest motives to all acts of bodily mercy, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and the like, --viz, the hope of saving their souls from death. For what avails it to relieve their temporal wants, who are just dropping into eternal fire? “Well; but run and snatch them as brands out of the fire.” Nay, this you suppose impossible. They were appointed thereunto, you say, from eternity, before they had done either good or evil. You believe it is the will of God they should die. And “who hath resisted his will?” But you say you do not know whether these are elected or not. What then? If you know they are the one or the other, --that they are either elected or not elected, --all your labour is void and vain. In either case, your advice, reproof, or exhortation is as needless and useless as our preaching. It is needless to them that are elected; for they will infallibly be saved without it. It is useless to them that are not elected; for with our without it they will infallibly be damned; therefore you cannot consistently with your principles take any pains about their salvation. Consequently, those principles directly tend to destroy your zeal for good works; for all good works; but particularly for the greatest of all, the saving of souls from death.
19. But, Fifthly, this doctrine not only tends to destroy Christian holiness, happiness, and good works, but hath also direct and manifest tendency to overthrow the whole Christian Revelation. The point which the wisest of the modern unbelievers most industriously labour to prove, is, that the Christian Revelation is not necessary, they well know, could they once show this, the conclusion would be too plain to be denied, “If it be not necessary, it is not true.” Now, this fundamental point you give up. For supposing that eternal, unchangeable decree, one part of mankind must be saved, though the Christian Revelation were not in being, and the other part of mankind must be damned, notwithstanding that Revelation. And what would an infidel desire more? You allow him all he asks. In making the gospel thus unnecessary to all sorts of men, you give up the whole Christian cause. “O tell it not in Gath! Publish it not in the streets of Askelon! lest the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice;” lest the sons of unbelief triumph!
20. And as this doctrine manifestly and directly tends to overthrow the whole Christian Revelation, so it does the same thing, by plain consequence, in making that Revelation contradict itself. For it is grounded on such an interpretation of some texts (more or fewer it matters not) as flatly contradicts all the other texts, and indeed the whole scope and tenor of Scripture. For instance: The assertors of this doctrine interpret that text of scripture, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated,” as implying that God in a literal sense hated Esau, and all the reprobated, from eternity. Now, what can possibly be a more flat contradiction than this, not only to the whole scope and tenor of Scripture, but also to all those particular texts which expressly declare, “God is love?” Again: They infer from that text, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy,” (Rom. 9:15,) that God is love only to some men, viz., the elect, and that he hath mercy for those only; flatly contrary to which is the whole tenor of Scripture, as is that express declaration in particular, “The Lord is loving unto every man; and his mercy is over all his works.” (Psalm 165:9.) Again: They infer from that and the like texts, “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy,” that he showeth mercy only to those to whom he had respect from all eternity. Nay, but who replieth against God now? You now contradict the whole oracles of God, which declare throughout, “God is no respecter of persons:” (Acts 10:34: ) “There is no respect of persons with him.” (Rom 2:11.) Again: from that text, “The children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth; it was said unto her,: unto Rebecca, “The elder shall serve the younger;” you infer, that our being predestinated, or elect, no way depends on the foreknowledge of God. Flatly contrary to this are all the scriptures: and those in particular, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God;” (1 Peter 1:2;) “Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate.” (Rom. 8:29.)
21. And “the same Lord over all is rich“ in mercy “to all that call upon him:’ (Rom. 10:12:) But you say, “No; he is such only to those for whom Christ died. And those are not all, but only a few, whom God hath chosen out of the world; for he died not for all, but only for those who were ‘chosen in him before the foundation of the world.’” (Eph. 1:4.) Flatly contrary to your interpretation of these scriptures, also, is the whole tenor of the New Testament; as are in particular those texts: --“Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died,” (Rom. 14:15,) –a clear proof that Christ died, not only for those that are saved, but also for them that perish; He is “the Saviour of the world;” (John 4:42;) He is “the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world;” (1:29;) “He is the propitiation, not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world;” (1 John 2:2;) “He,” the living God, “is the Saviour of all men;” (1 Tim. 4:10;) “He gave himself a ransom for all;” (2:6;) “He tasted death for every man.” (Heb. 2:9.)
22. If you ask, “Why then are not all men saved?” The whole law and the testimony answer, First, Not because of any decree of God; not because it is his pleasure they should die; for, “As I live, saith the Lord God,” “I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth.” (Ezek. 18:3, 32.) Whatever be the cause of their perishing, it cannot be his will, if the oracles of God are true; for they declare, “He is not willing that any should perish, but that all men should be saved.” And they, Secondly, declare what is the cause why all men are not saved, namely, that they will not be saved: So our Lord expressly, “Ye will not come unto me that ye may have life,” (John 5:40.) “The power of the Lord is present to heal” them, but they will not be healed. “They reject the counsel,” the merciful counsel, “of God against themselves,” as did their stiff-necked forefathers. And therefore are they without excuse; because God would save them, but they will not be saved: This is the condemnation, “How often would I have gathered you together, and ye would not!” (Matt. 23:37.)
23. Thus manifestly does this doctrine tend to overthrow the whole Christian Revelation, by making it contradict itself; by giving such an interpretation of some texts, as flatly contradicts all the other texts, and indeed the whole scope and tenor of Scripture; --an abundant proof that it is not of God. But neither is this all: For, Seventhly, it is a doctrine full of blasphemy; of such blasphemy as I should dread to mention, but that the honour of our gracious God, and the cause of his truth, will not suffer me to be silent. In the cause of God, then, and from a sincere concern for the glory of his great name, I will mention a few of the horrible blasphemies contained in this horrible doctrine. But first, I must warn every one of you that hears, as ye will answer it at the great day, not to charge me (as some have done) with blaspheming, because I mention the blasphemy of others. And the more you are grieved with them that do thus blaspheme, see that ye “confirm your love towards them” the more, and that your heart’s desire, and continual prayer to God, be, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do!”
24. This premised, let it be observed, that this doctrine represents our blessed Lord, “Jesus Christ the righteous,” “the only begotten Son of the Father, full of grace and truth,” as an hypocrite, a deceiver of the people, a man void of common sincerity. For it cannot be denied, that he everywhere speaks as if he was willing that all men should be saved. Therefore, to say he was not willing that all men should be saved, is to represent him as a mere hypocrite and dissembler. It cannot be denied that the gracious words which came out of his mouth are full of invitations to all sinners. To say, then, he did not intend to save all sinners, is to represent him as a gross deceiver of the people. You cannot deny that he says, “Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden.” If, then, you say he calls those that cannot come; those whom he knows to be unable to come; those whom he can make able to come, but will not; how is it possible to describe greater insincerity? You represent him as mocking his helpless creatures, by offering what he never intends to give. You describe him as saying one thing, and meaning another; as pretending the love which he had not. Him, in “whose mouth was no guile,” you make full of deceit, void of common sincerity; --then especially, when, drawing nigh the city, He wept over it, and said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, --and ye would not;” ήθελήσα και ουκ ήθελήσατε. Now, if you say, they would, but he would not, you represent him (which who could hear?) as weeping crocodiles’ tears; weeping over the prey which himself had doomed to destruction!
25. Such blasphemy this, as one would think might make the ears of a Christian to tingle! But there is yet more behind; for just as it honours the Son, so doth this doctrine honour the Father. It destroys all his attributes at once: It overturns both his justice, mercy, and truth; yea, it represents the most holy God as worse than the devil, as both more false, more cruel, and more unjust. More false; because the devil, liar as he is, hath never said, “He willeth all men to be saved:” More unjust; because the devil cannot, if he would, be guilty of such injustice as you ascribe to God, when you say that God condemned millions of souls to everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels, for continuing in sin, which, for want of that grace he will not give them, they cannot avoid: And more cruel; because that unhappy spirit “seeketh rest and findeth none;” so that his own restless misery is a kind of temptation to him to tempt others. But God resteth in his high and holy place; so that to suppose him, of his own mere motion, of his pure will and pleasure, happy as he is, to doom his creatures, whether they will or no, to endless misery, is to impute such cruelty to him as we cannot impute even to the great enemy of God and man. It is to represent the most high God (he that hath ears to hear let him hear!) as more cruel, false, and unjust than the devil!
26. This is the blasphemy clearly contained in the horrible decree of predestination! And here I fix my foot. On this I join issue with every assertor of it. You represent God as worse than the devil; more false, more cruel, more unjust. But you say you will prove it by Scripture. Hold! What will you prove by Scripture? That God is worse than the devil? It cannot be. Whatever that Scripture proves, it never can prove this; whatever its true meaning be, this cannot be its true meaning. Do you ask, “What is its true meaning then?” If I say, “I know not,” you have gained nothing; for there are many scriptures the true sense whereof neither you nor I shall know till death is swallowed up in victory. But this I know, better it were to say it had no sense at all, than to say it had such a sense as this. It cannot mean, whatever it mean besides, that the God of truth is a liar. Let it mean what it will, it cannot mean that the Judge of all the world is unjust. No scripture can mean that God is not love, or that his mercy is not over all his works; that is, whatever it prove beside, no scripture can prove predestination.
27. This is the blasphemy for which (however I love the persons who assert it) I abhor the doctrine of predestination. A doctrine, upon the supposition of which, if one could possibly suppose it for a moment, (call it election, reprobation, or what you please, for all comes to the same thing,) one might say to our adversary, the devil, “Thou fool, why dost thou roar about any longer? Thy lying in wait for souls is as needless and useless as our preaching. Hearest thou not, that God hath taken thy work out of thy hands; and that He doeth it much more effectually? Thou, with all thy principalities and powers, canst only so assault that we may resist thee; but He can irresistibly destroy both body and soul in hell! Thou canst only entice; but His unchangeable decree, to leave thousands of souls in death, compels them to continue in sin, till they drop into everlasting burnings. Thou temptest; He forceth us to be damned; for we cannot resist his will. Thou fool, why goest thou about any longer, seeking whom thou mayest devour? Hearest thou not that God is the devouring lion, the destroyer of souls, the murderer of men? Moloch caused only children to pass through the fire; and that fire was soon quenched; or, the corruptible body being consumed, its torment was at an end; but God, thou art told, by his eternal decree, fixed before they had done good or evil, causes, not only children of a span long, but the parents also, to pass through the fire of hell, the ‘fire which never shall be quenched;’ and the body which is cast thereinto, being now incorruptible and immortal, will be ever consuming and never consumed, but ‘ the smoke of their torment,’ because it is God’s good pleasure, ‘ascendeth up for ever and ever.’”
28. O how would the enemy of God and man rejoice to hear these things were so! How would he cry aloud and spare not! How would he lift up his voice and say, “To your tents, O Israel! Flee from the face of this God, or ye shall utterly perish! But whither will ye flee? Into heaven? He is there. Down to hell? He is there also. Ye cannot flee from an omnipresent, almighty tyrant. And whether ye flee or stay, I call heaven, his throne, and earth, his footstool, to witness against you, ye shall perish, ye shall die eternally. Sing, O hell, and rejoice, ye that are under the earth! For God, even the mighty God, hath spoken, and devoted to death thousands of souls, from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof! Here, O death is thy sting! They shall not, cannot escape; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. Here, O grave, is they victory! Nations yet unborn, or ever they have done good or evil, are doomed never to see the light of life, but thou shalt gnaw upon them for ever and ever! Let all those morning stars sing together, who fell with Lucifer, son of the morning! Let all the sons of hell shout for joy! For the decree is past, and who shall disannul it?”
29. Yea, the decree is past; and so it was before the foundation of the world. But what decree? Even this: “I will set before the sons of men ‘life and death, blessing and cursing.’ And the soul that chooseth life shall live, as the soul that chooseth death shall die.” This decree, whereby “whom God did foreknow, he did predestinate,” was indeed from everlasting; this, whereby all who suffer Christ to make them alive are “elect according to the foreknowledge of God,” now standeth fast, even as the moon, and as the faithful witnesses in heaven; and when heaven and earth shall pass away, yet this shall not pass away; for it is as unchangeable and eternal as is the being of God that gave it. This decree yields the strongest encouragement to abound in all good works, and in all holiness; and it is a well-spring of joy, of happiness also, to our great and endless comfort. This is worthy of God; it is every way consistent with all the perfections of his nature. It gives us the noblest view both of his justice, mercy, and truth. To this agrees the whole scope of the Christian Revelation, as well as all the parts thereof. To this Moses and all the Prophets bear witness, and our blessed Lord and all his Apostles. Thus Moses, in the name of his Lord: “I call heaven and earth to record against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that thou and thy seed may live.” Thus Ezekiel: (to cite one Prophet for all :) “The soul that sinneth, it shall die: The son shall not bear: eternally “the iniquity of the father. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.” (18:20) Thus our blessed Lord: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink” (John 7:37) Thus his great Apostle, St. Paul: (Acts 17:30 :) “God commandeth all men everywhere to repent;”—“all men everywhere;” every man in every place, without any exception either of place or person. Thus St. James: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5.) Thus St. Peter; (2 Peter 3:9 :) “The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” And thus St. John: “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father; and he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2: 1,2 .)
30. O hear ye this, ye that forget God! Ye cannot charge your death upon him! “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? Saith the Lord God. (Ezek. 18:23, etc.) Repent, and turn from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions whereby ye have transgressed, -- for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God. Wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked. – Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezek. 33:11)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Extract from the journal of John Wesley

I thought this portion was interesting and worth repeating here.

From Thur. Jan 4th 1739
One who had had the form of godliness many years, wrote the following reflections:
"My friends affirm I am mad, because I said I was not a Christian a year ago. I affirm, I am not a Christian now. Indeed, what I might have been I know not, had I been faithful to the grace then given, when, expecting nothing less, I recieved such a sense of the forgiveness of my sins, as till then I never knew. But that I am not a Christian at this day, I as assuredly know, as that Jesus is the Christ.
"For a Christian is one who has the fruits of the Spirit of Christ, which (to mention no more) are love, peace, joy. But these I have not. I have not any love of God. I do not love either the Father or the Son. do you ask, how do I know whether I love God, I answer by another question, 'How do you know whether you love me?' Why, as you know whether you are hot or cold. you feel this moment, that you do or do not love me. And I feel this moment, I do not love God; which therefore I know, because I feel it. There is no word more proper, more clear, or more strong.
"And I know it also by St. John's plain rule, 'If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.' For I love the world. I desire the things of the world, some or other of them, and have done all my life. I have always placed some part of my happiness in some or other of the things that are seen. Particularly in meat and drink, and in the company of those I loved. For many years I have been, yea, and still am, hankering after a happiness, in loving, and being loved by one or another. And in these I have from time to time taken more pleasure than in God.
"Again, joy in the Holy Ghost I have not. I have now and then some starts of joy in God: But it is not that joy. For it is not abiding. Neither is it greater than I have had on some worldly occasions. So that I can in no wise be said to 'rejoice evermore;' much less to 'rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.'
"Yet again: I have not 'the peace of God;' that peace, peculiarly so called. The peace I have may be accounted for on natural principles. I have health, strength, friends, a competent fortune, and a composed, cheerful temper. Who would not have a sort of peace in such circumstances? But I have none which can with any propriety be called, a 'peace which passeth all understanding.'
"From hence I conclude, (and let all the saints of the world hear, that whereinsoever they boast, they may be found even as I,) though I have given, and do give, all my goods to feed the poor, I am not a Christian. Though I have endured hardship, though I have in all things denied myself and taken up my cross, I am not a Christian. My works are nothing, my sufferings are nothing; I have not the fruits of the Spirit of Chirst. Though I have constantly used all the means of grace for twenty years, I am not a Christian."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Is Barack Obama a christian?

No one who says the following could possibly have experienced the saving grace of Jesus Christ in their lives:

"Hope in the face of difficulty, hope in the face of uncertainty, the audacity of hope: In the end, that is God's greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation, a belief in things not seen, a belief that there are better days ahead." – Democratic National Convention Keynote Address.

Gods greatest gift to the world is none other than sending his only begotten son into the world to become the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Calvinism vs. Arminianism

Ive started this topic for the purposes of discussing, in a Godly manner, this debate.

Ground rules.
1. Everything posted here must be for the Glorification of God. non edifying remarks will be deleted post-haste.
2. The bible is the ultimate authority to be used.
3. Anyone wishing to dialogue here must come with an open mind in order to find the Truth in this matter and not merely to argue their side. Any other reason for posting here is rooted in pride.
4. There is only one Truth so either the followers of Arminias are right or the followers of Calvin are right, or they are both wrong. The law of non-contradiction proves that both sides cannot be correct.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Christian acceptance of Homosexuality is not Love but ambivalence.

Dear Blade Editor,

Rev. Bruce McDaniel stated in his July 13th letter to the editor, defending acceptance of actively homosexual Christians that “I choose to stand with my courageous GLBT brothers and sisters who have chosen Jesus' way of love, even in the face of hate and persecution. I will take my chances on being judged, ultimately, by how I loved in this life.” The problem with this philosophy is that, according to St. Paul, Homosexuality is an unnatural tendency which results in penalty.

Rom. 1:24-27 “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion

So if the bible is to be taken as truth, then allowing our Christian brothers and sisters to continue in sexual sin is harmful to their body and soul. This is not an act of love, but an act of ambivalence. If our brother was addicted to Heroin would we not do everything in our power to help him break that addiction? Yes, as Christians, we should certainly accept anyone regardless of their past sins. However, if no change occurs in that person’s life, due to their conversion, of what value is their ‘salvation’?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

seperation of church and state

This post is a response to...

Ida said...
I just stopped by to ask you to check amendment 1 in the US Constitution. Thomas Jefferson's "Wall of Separation" letter inspired the "separation of church and state" mentioned in that clause. Because of that amendement, the government is no longer allowed to push one religion on America--freedom of religion, I am sure you have heard of it? Why then do you think other religions and those who don't practice religion, get such a hard time in the US? Everyone assumes we were built on a Christian nation, when in fact we were not--this is just something that has happened over the years.


"Article the third [Amendment I]
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

The modern definition of "seperation of church and state" is not what the framers of the constitution had in mind when they wrote the first ammendment. They were expressly stating that there would be no state religion and further that the state has no right to prohibit the free exercise of any religion. modern examples of what this ammendment is writing against are Iran(shia islam), Saudi Arabia(Sunni Islam), pre-civil war lebanon(mariaonite christian), and U.S.S.R.(athiesm). these governments sponsored thier own brand of religion and prohibited any other form. This move to make all religions private affairs of the individuals and to prohibit any public display of religion is unconstitutional since most religions, with the exception of athiesm, demand an application into all areas of life, both public and private.

Furthermore, the level of religious intolerance in this country is incomprehensible. Most of the people who are advocating removal of religious symbols and practices from all public spheres are athiests. Why so intolerant of other peoples beliefs? If you athiests are correct than there is no point in quibbling over petty things like this. Eat, drink, and be merry for soon you shall be dead and the memory of you shall pass from this earth like a breath of wind. From ashes you came and to ash you will return. Find what happiness you can in the short time you have on this earth. Stop trying to force everyone else conform to your views regarding privatization of religion. It is unconstitutional and intollerant.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Psalm 22
For the director of music. To the tune of "The Doe of the Morning." A psalm of David.
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, and am not silent.
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the praise of Israel.
4 In you our fathers put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
5 They cried to you and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not disappointed.
6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by men and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads:
8 "He trusts in the LORD;
let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him."
9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you
even at my mother's breast.
10 From birth I was cast upon you;
from my mother's womb you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions tearing their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted away within me.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs have surrounded me;
a band of evil men has encircled me,
they have pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I can count all my bones;
people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing.
19 But you, O LORD, be not far off;
O my Strength, come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver my life from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

Mathew 27:
35When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 38Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40and saying, "You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!"
41In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42"He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself! He's the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, 'I am the Son of God.' " 44In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
45From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. 46About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
47When some of those standing there heard this, they said, "He's calling Elijah."
48Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49The rest said, "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to save him."
50And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

Psalm 22 cont.
22 I will declare your name to my brothers;
in the congregation I will praise you.
23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or disdained
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.
25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
they who seek the LORD will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the LORD
and he rules over the nations.
29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness
to a people yet unborn—
for he has done it.

Mathew 28:
5The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."
8So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me." ...
16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Friday, April 18, 2008

Expelled review

Yesterday a group of individuals with whom I study the bible with decided to go to a special showing of a movie called "Expelled". Being an ex-athiest/agnostic I was prepared for a Michael Moore style "documentary". What I actually saw was far worse. I do not know whether Ben Steins obtuseness is deliberate or unintentional, but it is profound. There were blatant misunderstandings of basic evolutionary principles as well as a blurring of definitions of the word evolution until the only definition left standing is one that includes the hypothesis of naturalism. The failure to define any of the real arguments of ID doesnt really seem to be a problem for Mr. Stein. Neither apparently is the blatant and disgusting attempt to place the blame for the atrocities commited by Hitler squarely on evolutionary theory and its proponents. In short this movie does nothing but build walls between the scientific community and the religious. It is devisive in nature. I believe that this movie is truly inspired. Unfortuneatly the muse is not God, but him to whom devisiveness is second nature.
The moment where the movie was over and the theatre packed full of christians began clapping and cheering was probably one of the most profoundly scary moments of my life.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Objective vs. Subjective Morality

Is morality subjective or objective? This is an intriguing question which has been debated over by theists and athiests alike. The theists usual argument is that if Morality does not derive from a higher power than it is subjective. I shall attempt to prove that this is the case.
I think it is useful to start from a point outside of the realm of morality to discover insights about morality. Human beings are creative. We constantly build things which make our everyday experience better or more pleasureable etc. When we as individuals create something for some purpose, we judge the value of that object as good or bad based on how well it performs the use for which it intended. For example a car designer is tasked with making a car that gets 30 miles to the gallon. after the car is made it turns out to only get 10 miles to the gallon. Thus the car is a bad car. on the other hand if the designer had made a car which went 40 miles to the gallon it would be a good car.
We do not make such value judgements on things which we do not actually create. For instance a tree or a rock or a stream of water is neither good nor bad. Thus we observe that we place value on things based on how well they serve the purpose for which they are created.
If we apply this same criteria for value on human beings we are forced with one of two options. Either man is a created being in which case we are good or bad depending on how well we performs the actions we were created for. Or Man is the result of random chance in which case we have no intrinsic purpose and thus good and bad are merely subjective judgements.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

An old testament snapshot of modern america

Micah 7:1-7
1 What misery is mine!
I am like one who gathers summer fruit
at the gleaning of the vineyard;
there is no cluster of grapes to eat,
none of the early figs that I crave.
2 The godly have been swept from the land;
not one upright man remains.
All men lie in wait to shed blood;
each hunts his brother with a net.
3 Both hands are skilled in doing evil;
the ruler demands gifts,
the judge accepts bribes,
the powerful dictate what they desire—
they all conspire together.
4 The best of them is like a brier,
the most upright worse than a thorn hedge.
The day of your watchmen has come,
the day God visits you.
Now is the time of their confusion.
5 Do not trust a neighbor;
put no confidence in a friend.
Even with her who lies in your embrace
be careful of your words.
6 For a son dishonors his father,
a daughter rises up against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
a man's enemies are the members of his own household.
7 But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD,
I wait for God my Savior;
my God will hear me.

These are the words of the prophet Micah concerning the people of Judah before God handed them over to the Babylonians to be slaughtered and enslaved. How fitting are these words to the society we live in today. Our politicians are thoroughly corrupt and the decadence of our society is everywhere for the eye to see.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Sexual revolution in China

An interesting story appeared today on CNN's website about a chinese sexual revolution and likens it to our own revolution of the 60's.
The thrust of the story seems to lay blame on 4 factors:
1. Declining authoritarianism of government.
2. The Taboo of the word sex.
3. The rise of capitalism.
4. Lack of sex education.
You would almost think that this story came right off of the presses of the communist propaganda department.

"China is in the midst of a sexual revolution, a byproduct of rising prosperity and looser government restrictions on private life. The relaxed attitudes about sex mark a historic turnaround from the days when love and sex were denounced as bourgeois decadence, and unisex Mao suits and drab austerity were the norm...Now, a government that once had say over when and whom people could marry is more concerned about regulating interest rates. And rising incomes have allowed urban Chinese to pursue much more than mere survival."

One fact in the story which they mention in passing, "the average urban marriage age has crept steadily higher, reaching 31 for men in Shanghai last year." , I think this is the root cause of not only Chinas recent problems, but also our own. The problem is not caused by lack of sex education or the rise of capitalism but a natural side effect of delaying marriage. One major side effect of industrial societies is that to be successful one has to have a much higher level of education than in an agricultural society. This causes us to put off getting married until we are 'ready for it'. Where once societies would marry off their young people almost as soon as their hormones started kicking in. Now we try to put off the sacrement of marriage until after the peak of hormonal urges start to subside.

I dont know if there is a solution to this problem but it is naive at best to blame the natural result of repressed nature on lack of education or capitalism.

Friday, February 29, 2008

What is the nature of hell?

One of the more controversial topics in the christian religion is the doctrine of hell. I believe that the prevalent view held by the masses, that hell is a place of eternal torment and punishment, is not well supported by the bible. Instead it has come from the mixing of greek philosophy with the christian concept of the immortality of the soul.

In the old testament there is a jewish concept of sheol. A place where the souls of the dead go to await judgement. It is a sort of timeless limbo and all souls go there except the few who were caught up to heaven by God (i.e. Elijah). But what of the new testament?

Jesus refers to hell in several parables:
The rich man and Lazarus.
This parable is probably the closest thing to describing the common view of hell. but should we really take Jesus' description of hell in this parable as a literal description? I think not. We should read the parable for what it is. It is saying that the things we do in life, have eternal consequences, and we will not be give an oportunity to repent after we pass from this life.
The parable of the talents& the parable of sheep and goats.
The first parable is one of stewardship and responsibility for the things God gives us on earth. At the end of the story there is the part about punishment for mismanagement and refers to weaping and gnashing of teeth.
The parable of the sheep and goats is actually a direct parable about the final judgement. Here God says that those who do not show charity will have eternal punishment.

I use these verses because they seem, at first glance, to be the most supportive of the doctrine of eternal torture. But all of these references come from parables which we know to be metaphors and not actual literal descriptions of hell. But we have a book which gives us a good description of the judgement and condemnation of sinners.

Revelations 21: 5-8

5He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."
6He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."
Jesus says directly here that the words are trustworthy and true. Sinners will be thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
This pesky part about the second death throws a great big wrench into the doctrine of eternal torture. It can not be maintained. Even here on earth the most severe form of punishment we inflict on law breakers is death. Jesus is saying here that the punishment for unrepentent sin is the death of our immortal souls. And what more gruesome way of dying can there be than to be burned alive in a lake of fire.
But there is hope for our souls. Through Christs' death and resurection he has conquered death. He has become Lord and king of the earth and has the power to forgive us our sins and redeem our souls for eternal life with him.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Mayor Finkbeiners' egomania not only disgraceful but Deadly.

Yesterday, Toledo's Mayor kicked a group of United States Marines out of the city of Toledo while they were conducting urban warfare training here. They had the full cooperation and knowledge of the police and fire departments. Apparently the mayor was upset that HE was not notified. Let us consider for a moment the ramifications of his actions.

1. These marines may very likely find themselves deployed to Iraq in the near future.

2. Urban warfare is a huge part of the mission they would be carrying out.

Their lack of training time while stateside will almost certainly lead to an increase in fatalities and injuries when they get to Iraq where inexperience is deadly.

The result of Mayor Finkbeiners actions may very likely lead to the death of our fine young men and women. This is unexcusable in a public leader. The democratic party and the citizens of Toledo should demand his immediate resignation for such a gross lack of judgement.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Joining the Blogsphere

Hello all of you out there. This Blog will be dedicated to My thoughts on Christianity and how it effects our lives in these modern times, and as a place for people to respond to my comments on thier blogs.