Why Akathleptos? Because it means Uncontainable. God is infinite. Hence, the whole universe cannot contain Him. The term also refers to the incomprehensibility of God. No man can know everything about God. We can know Him personally but not exhaustively, not even in Heaven.
Why Patmos? Because the church is increasingly marginalized and exiled from the culture.
Why Pen-Names? So the focus is on the words and not who wrote them. We prefer to let what we say stand on its own merit. There is precedent in church history for this - i.e., the elusive identity of Ambrosiaster who wrote in the 4th century A.D.
“Truth is so obscured nowadays, and lies so well established, that unless we love the truth we shall never recognize it." Blaise Pascal
Friday, March 23, 2018
Thursday, March 22, 2018
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
We live in an age when popular churches increasingly mirror the manipulative techniques of pop culture
Prior the standing ovation, I tweeted that the church would do a standing ovation since it is a typical, knee jerk, ignorant attempt to manipulate people which is frequently used by abusive churches. I believe that this response was premeditated. Sadly, many unthinking people in the church were easily suckered into this phony show. One person who did not stand up and applaud said that those around him appeared irritated that he went against the grain. Maybe, deep down inside, they were a bit uncomfortable by their response?
That entire church service was shocking to me. Jules Woodson was abused by Andy Savage. She was then re-abused by the members and pastors of Highpoint Church. Instead of thoughtful words and a subdued service, indicating a minimum understanding of the gravity of the situation, the church leaders presented a raucous, circus-like show with an entertainer up front screaming that Andy Savage was *worthy.*
Savage received a standing ovation to his confession of a sexual incident with a 17 year old student in a youth ministry. Chris Conlee actually implied Jules Woodson should be on the same path to healing as Andy Savage! Seriously?. Do I really have to explain to pastors?
As I watched this mess, I wondered how a church could screw up this badly.
I was dumfounded by members of Highpoint who attacked Jules Woodson via Twitter, threatening her that they were going to expose her. Some daft lady said that she had the gift of *spiritual discernment* and that Savage was innocent of molestation. I saw dippy Scriptural *explanations* made by members who apparently don’t know the difference between a pastor and a king or between crime, sin, repentance and restoration.
HighPoint got their city on a hill moment and it was a huge fail. They should hang their heads in shame.
As painfully pointed out here in an analysis of the inappropriate behavior of the church,
"Religious leaders use forgiveness theology as a cover, and as an avoidance, of accountability," Brown told The Washington Post. "And it's a way of further shaming victims. 'What a bad girl you are, you aren't forgiving.'"
Donald Miller recounts in his article "How To Spot a Manipulative Church Leader",
I am eternally grateful the first minister I encountered was such a good man.
Because the second minister I encountered wasn’t.
A committee was put in place to replace our pastor and the committee decided to hire a dynamic young man from Louisiana. The man had been a traveling preacher, moving from church to church to perform revivals and to tell people about Jesus. He was a tall man and loud. He flailed his arms as he spoke. He talked about God’s power, about God’s wrath, about God’s love and to be honest, he was quite moving.
He was incredible at getting people to respond. He had a sharp sense of humor, would occasionally say shocking things to test our loyalty and see if we would turn on him or go with him. He knew the Bible inside and out and knew how to play human emotions like a fiddle. On any given Sunday, we would experience a range of emotions from guilt and shame to fear and sometimes joy.
I even remember his first sermon. It was entitled “Appoint those you trust and trust those you appoint.” That should have been an obvious sign to everybody. He was saying, without question, if you hire me to be your pastor, I am the boss. You must never question my authority.
Soon, the entire congregation fell under his spell. We loved it when he delighted in us but feared screwing up. One Sunday, he snapped at the man working in the sound booth so sharply the man turned red from embarrassment. The pastor, realizing he’d gone too far, explained ferociously that God is a God of excellence and wouldn’t stand for mistakes, even from volunteer sound guys. He then quoted a passage about how we were supposed to be perfect even as Christ is perfect.
Looking back, this was all manipulation. People who care about the truth understand they are capable of self-deception and surround themselves with accountability. This pastor got rid of the accountability. He drove off any elder who wouldn’t submit, once again, quoting scripture and spinning the Bible so that those questioning his motives looked like infidels. He even said he felt justified using violence against them, simply because they refused to trust the leader God had appointed.
What made the situation so difficult is that the church in fact grew ......
Indeed. There is an excellent article here on spiritual manipulation in the church. We live in an age when popular churches increasingly mirror the manipulative techniques of pop culture in a misguided attempt to corral followers into the Kingdom of God. But there is little of value to be gleaned from a culture rapidly descending into paganism. While the church can (and should) avail itself of useful technology and advances, caution is paramount when it comes to incorporating the methods of a fallen culture, no matter how popular or successful in the world. A service can be so technically perfect that it becomes more performance than worship. Such a service is adept at manipulating emotion and response much like a Hollywood blockbuster, instead of depending upon the Holy Spirit to move as He wills.
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: "He catches the wise in their craftiness" (1 Cor 3:19, NIV)
There is a sobering article here entitled "The Push to Make Human-Chimp Hybrids" wherein the author cites the "terrific idea" to create a human-chimp hybrid - a "humanzee". The rationale for such a monstrous undertaking is crystal clear - "to drive a stake into the heart of that destructive disinformation campaign of discontinuity, of human hegemony over all other living things."
In a long article adapted from a chapter in his forthcoming book, psychologist David Barash proposes that society should sanction the making of human-chimp hybrids. He refers to this new creature as a "humanzee" and says that "making it would be a terrific idea."
Barash recognizes some of the scientific challenges to making a humanzee but claims that it is "by no means impossible or even unlikely that a hybrid or a chimera combining a human being and a chimpanzee could be produced in a laboratory. After all, human and chimp (or bonobo) share, by most estimates, roughly 99 percent of their nuclear DNA."
His main argument for pursuing the creation of a human-chimp hybrid is based on the belief that humans have an unwarranted belief that we are special creatures. As Barash puts it, "Moreover, I propose that the fundamental take-home message of such creation would be to drive a stake into the heart of that destructive disinformation campaign of discontinuity, of human hegemony over all other living things."
There is perhaps no better illustration of the ferocity of mankind's rebellion against God than this. Since the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, infinite God is effectively immune from any kind of successful attack on Himself, the next best option is to strike out at His designated image-bearer. We cannot of course do anything to God Almighty Himself, but we can certainly mar the image of God. This explains the current cultural fascination with sexual identity and so-called transgenderism. God created us male and female in His image and eliminating that distinction mars the image of God. Even then the Creator has the last laugh as all attempts to change sex are ultimately futile (i.e., see here.)
The proposal to create a "humanzee" - something that would have been the stuff of horror movies just 20 years ago - is now viewed as mainstream (and even a "terrific idea") by some. This is how far the culture has frighteningly fallen into depravity.
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Elon Musk is a goofball techbro whose real business is quack philosophizing, not inventions or engineering.
I realize that the founder of Tesla and SpaceX really does make things, like electric cars and spaceships. But Musk's numerous attempts to realize his gleaming visions of a Jetsons-like future have never come close to living up to the (largely self-manufactured) hype.
... Why have we allowed this lunatic a prominent place in our public and commercial life? Even his name makes him sound like the villain who convinces the Earth Federation in the year 4836 to trade in its fleet of perfectly serviceable if somewhat old-fashioned solar-powered starships for his sleek but shoddily made models that, allegedly, run on nothing but crystals from the planet Flion.
The line between science and science fiction has always been a blurry one. No sooner would Jules Verne write a story about, say, an electric submarine than some genius inventor would will it into reality. The problem with Musk is that he seems willing to calmly accept the reality of every nebulous Star Trek plot device in existence without bothering with the boring part where the thing actually has to work. Even a supercomputer operating on the principle of the so-called infinite monkey theorem could not devise a credible individual repository for all the wild things Musk believes. From the imminence of total human extinction to the perennial undergraduate assertion that, like, maybe we are all living inside in the Matrix, there is no implausible, discredited, absurd-on-its-face theory or cause that Musk has not endorsed with brio.
It would be difficult to think of anyone else who routinely says things as blinkeringly stupid to large audiences as routinely as Musk.
... The truth about Musk, though, is that for all his visionary cant there is nothing especially revolutionary about him. He is, in fact, a typical example of a type that is painfully familiar in American life: the shamanic huckster. Such persons have flourished in the fertile soil of this continent and the equally fecund imaginations of our free-thinking citizenry almost since the Mayflower. Sometimes people like Musk convince their fans to follow them into the desert and eat magic mushrooms in between a capella campfire renditions of "Masters of War" and freeform rap sessions on the mysteries of consciousness. Sometimes they see visions of both Jesus and assorted Hindi deities and declare themselves "greater than God." Sometimes they convince the Beatles to go with them to India. Sometimes they just hand out pamphlets outside train stations and bum cigarettes from tired commuters.
Musk is, thank goodness, much closer to the anodyne type of messianic lunatic than to the Jonestown variety. If it weren't for his peddling of high-priced death-traps that federal regulators have so far allowed to traverse our crumbling roads, I would feel comfortable declaring him essentially harmless.
There is no doubt that Musk is a visionary capable of motivating people to achieve things they ordinarily would not on their own. The question is: from whence does his motivation spring, and for what purpose? He is of course a master of the requisite skill required of all hucksters - deceptive marketing (see here.)
Deception is the defining characteristic of this age, and it will exponentially increase as we approach the end of the age. In fact, so rampant will deception become just prior to the return of Christ, that it will be the normal state of affairs. In other words, when deception becomes the norm and truth is summarily dismissed - know that the end is near.
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4; ESV)
Monday, March 19, 2018
Help will not be in time to save you.
In the absence of any visible police presence, students decided to defend themselves.
The police were armed with revolvers and shotguns. Neither was effective against an enemy atop a 300-foot tower shooting over a chest-high wall.
The populace of U.T. and Austin in 1966 was an armed society. These people felt every right to defend themselves, and they did so in numbers. Among civilians, students and police were those who owned high-powered rifles, many with scopes for long-range targeting. Within 20 minutes, they began to return fire on Whitman, who was forced to give up his place shooting over the wall and from then on shot only through the drain holes at the base of the deck.
In the seventy-odd minutes after that, only one more fatality occurred. When the Tower deck was "stormed" by a lone cop with a revolver, backed up by a volunteer with a shotgun, Whitman was prone on the deck, with his rifle's barrel through a drain hole. While he was furiously reversing the rifle out to shoot these "intruders," he met the revolver bullets – all of them. The officer then grabbed the shotgun and emptied that as well.
Had Whitman been standing to shoot over the wall and undistracted by return fire, it might have been a very different story.
There is a corollary here regarding the impotence of much of the contemporary church. When Scripture refers to the church as sheep, it is with the connotation of being under the care and protection of the Shepherd (Christ). That does not absolve us of personal responsibility. Quite the opposite. The indwelling Holy Spirit empowers us to act on Christ's behalf, and as His image-bearers, God entrusts us with tremendous responsibility.
Paul Howey writes,
We know without a shadow of a doubt that we are human beings, not four legged animals that grow wool and graze on grass. More importantly, we know that Jesus is not a literal shepherd of any literal four legged grass-grazing sheep. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the Good Shepherd over Christians who are people, not farm animals. So even though Jesus is referred to as the Good Shepherd and even though Christians are refereed to as sheep in the Bible, that does not mean that Jesus is a literal farm shepherd or that Christians are to be treated as literal sheep. While there are many passages that refer to Christians directly as sheep, we know this reference is only symbolic. Here is one verse that on its own demonstrates a clear comparison:
For you were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. 1Pet 2: 25
King David who penned the beloved and well-known 23rd Psalm was a literal shepherd in his youth. Better than almost anyone, he understood what it meant to be a sheep in the Kingdom of God. In comparison with how many pastors today paint what it means to be a "sheep" in the church, David's life stands in stark contrast. History is quite clear that David was a courageous man of action that never rejected the mantle of personal responsibility. Indeed, I strongly suspect that many Christians today would be offended by someone like King David. We need to be offended.