Why Akathleptos?

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



Thursday, December 19, 2013

There Is No Perfect Model Or Analogy



James Ada has posted in several places on the web, his mathematical "proof" for the existence of God using infinity. Here it is in writing and here is his explanation on YouTube video. It's quite clear that he's coming from the Islamic perspective of God, denying the Trinitarian God and the full deity of the Son.

While he posits an interesting exercise, it has fatal flaws both mathematically and theologically.

But his foundational error is believing that one can prove or model the existence of God with a mathematical equation. There is good reason that God prohibited the Old Testament nation of Israel from making any image of Him - i.e., Exodus 20:4-5 and Acts 17:29 say that the Lord is against anyone attempting to make an image of God.

Why?

Because God is absolutely unique. He stands alone outside space and time. Scripture is adamant that there is nothing else and no one else like Him. God stands absolutely alone. By definition then, any attempt to model Him using an analogy or model must always fall short. Every analogy is fatally flawed. That does not mean that analogies may not be helpful in understanding some aspect of God - i.e., his power, his creative skill, his sovereignty, etc. But we must be very careful with analogies and models of God and be aware they will always fall short. Nothing can perfectly and accurately model God because He stands alone. He is absolutely unique.

This means if we depend upon a model or analogy for our understanding of God, we inevitably end up with a distorted picture of God at best and an erroneous picture at worst. (This is the mistake that many Christians make in trying to grasp the doctrine of the Trinity.) There is no analogy that can perfectly model God.

But there's also another problem: the transcendence of God. Outside space and time, it is impossible for us to know God apart from his willingness to reveal Himself to us. Had God not chosen to reveal Himself inside space and time to us, we could never know God. Locked in space and time, we can see various powerful evidences for His existence (i.e., cosmology, astronomy, teleology, His workings in history, the basis of morality and ethics, etc.), but we can never know God through them alone.

A beautiful mechanical watch gives indisputable evidence for the existence of the watchmaker and insight into some of his attributes (i.e., his skill, manual dexterity, intelligence, etc.) But by itself, the watch can never give us knowledge of the watchmaker himself - i.e., his name, his location, his age, his height, his education, his sense of humor, his appetite preferences, etc. Similarly the evidences within space and time for the existence of God can never lead us to the knowledge of God Himself.

This means we must necessarily depend on God's revelation to us in space and time to gain true knowledge of Him. God's revelation in Jesus Christ gives us accurate and perfect knowledge of Him ... but not comprehensive. No finite man can ever know everything about the infinite God. We can know Him personally, but not exhaustively, not even in Heaven. This means an exciting, dynamic relationship with Him for all eternity, ever growing in our knowledge of His grace, mercy, love, power, etc.

*******

Back to Ada's "proof".

Infinity is a puzzling concept. As an engineer and physicist, I grow increasingly convinced that God is the only actual infinity and that all other infinities are only "partial" or "potential". An actual infinity is beyond our full comprehension. We can intellectually grasp the concept, but as eternally finite beings we can never comprehensively embrace infinity.

So it is with the amazing one true God who has graciously revealed Himself to us in the Person of Jesus Christ.

"For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountain of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries."
Robert Jastrow, PhD (1925 – 2008), founder of NASA's Goddard Institute and Director of the Mt. Wilson Institute and Observatories was a renowned American astronomer, physicist and cosmologist.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

It's Like Squeezing An Under-Inflated Balloon



There's a new poll here that reveals a recent decline in Americans who believe in the existence of God, down 8% in recent years. Given the decreasing contemporary witness of the church in America and the corresponding rise of a secular, hostile culture, it's reasonable to ask if the American church has reached its zenith and is now in decline to an ultimate position of irrelevance.

This raises an interesting theological question with respect to the durability of the church.

Jesus was adamant that the powers of darkness would not prevail against His Church (i.e., Matt 16:17-19) which some have erroneously interpreted as referring to the Church - whether local, regional,or global - that it will always prevail and triumph. But history clearly shows otherwise. Earlier, I recorded here my observation several years ago in Turkey which was the center of power for the global church in the late 1st century church A.D. (Asia Minor) ... that the church there had all but disappeared. Several other instances can easily be cited from global history of a local regional church, once powerfully witnessing to the truth of the gospel, suffering decline and even disappearing altogether.

Does this mean Jesus was wrong? Of course not.

In context, it's clear that Jesus was referring to the universal church, not a local or regional expression of it. A good analogy is an under-inflated balloon. If you squeeze one part of the balloon, it always expands elsewhere. This is true of the universal church. As the enemy attacks and (sometimes successfully) manages to squelch the church's witness on one part of the globe, the result is the rapid expansion and influence of the church elsewhere on the planet at the same time. As the church waned in Asia Minor, it breathed new life into Europe. As it waxed in Europe, it flashed to life in North America. As it declines in North America, it bursts forth in South America, China and the Orient. Globally, the church is unquenchable.

But it is a mistake to believe that a local or regional church cannot and will not suffer judgment. Jesus warns the church in Ephesus they are in danger of having their lamp extinguished (Rev 2:5) if they do not repent. In Rev 3:1-6, Christ warns the church in Sardis that unless they repent, what little remains of that church will die.

We need to pay close heed to Christ's messages to the churches in Rev chapters 2-3. We're foolish if we naively think our local or regional expression of the church is untouchable because it represents divine light, albeit imperfectly. That was the catastrophic mistake national Israel made in the Old Testament - believing they were exempt from God's judgment because they were, after all, more "righteous" than the surrounding nations.

History provides a sobering warning to the contemporary church in North America which is in danger of having its' lampstand soon removed.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Drugging The Kids Into Insanity



Consumer Reports has an article here questioning the dramatic increase of powerful anti-psychotic drugs in children.

The number of children taking powerful antipsychotic drugs has nearly tripled over the last 10 to 15 years, according to recent research. The increase comes not because of an epidemic of schizophrenia or other forms of serious mental illness in children, but because doctors are increasingly prescribing the drugs to treat behavior problems, a use not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And a disproportionate number of those prescriptions are written for poor and minority children, some as young as age 2. Doctors are prescribing antipsychotics even though there’s minimal evidence that the drugs help kids for approved uses, much less the unapproved ones, such as behavioral problems.

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Our culture increasingly depends on powerful drugs to medicate behavioral symptoms into oblivion. Refusing to recognize possible non-physical causes for abnormal behavior (i.e., poor discipline in the home, spiritual influences, lack of physical exercise, unhealthy diets, etc.), society simply increasingly resorts to powerful drugs to subdue the symptoms which then often induce catatonic, zombie-like states. Worse yet, sometimes the kids (and adults) react violently under the influence of these powerful drugs.

Dr. Ann Blake Tracy, executive director of the International Coalition for Drug Awareness and author of Prozac: Panacea or Pandora? - Our Serotonin Nightmare is an expert consultant in cases like the Columbine massacre in which anti-depressant medications are involved. Tracy says the Columbine killers' brains were awash in serotonin, the chemical which causes violence and aggression and triggers a sleep-walking disorder in which a person literally acts out their worst nightmare. Shortly before the Columbine shooting, Eric Harris had been rejected by Marine Corps recruiters because he was under a doctor's care and had been prescribed an anti-depressant medication.  Harris was taking Luvox, an anti-depressant commonly used to treat patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Luvox is in a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI).  Other SSRIs include Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft.  An estimated 10 million Americans take anti-depressant medications.

I believe the majority of kids whose parents consult psychiatrists end up on powerful drugs (true for the vast majority of the cases I've personally been aware of.) The most dangerous of these are major tranquilizers, also known as neuroleptic (nerve-seizing) drugs or anti-psychotics. Of the more than two dozen in this class, introduced in the mid 1950s, the most commonly used are Haldol (haloperidol), Compazine (prochlorperazine), Thorazine (chlorpromazine), Navane (thiothixene), Prolixin (fluphenazine), Mellaril (thioridazine), and Trilafon (perphenazine). Their purpose is to create "maximum behavioral disruption"--a goal clearly reflected in 1950 tests conducted with rats on Thorazine. Through chemicals, psychiatrists sought to sabotage thought processes and thereby deny the person control of his own body.

At the time the major tranquilizers were introduced, the lobotomy was touted highly and widely used by psychiatrists. With the procedure, the shredded brain was damaged forever, generating objections from family and friends of the patient. The major tranquilizers were able to create a zombie state, identical to that seen after a lobotomy, in a person whose brain remained intact. For this reason, Thorazine became known as a "chemical lobotomy."

"[On Thorazine] my thoughts spun and never got too far. My hands were rubber and I could hardly hold a fork," said one patient who had been put on the drug by a psychiatrist. "After six weeks . . . I felt like my mind had been put through a meat grinder. No longer could I think clearly; no longer could I speak articulately; no longer could I act confidently."

Another stated that, after a week on Haldol, "I was unable to speak. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't say anything out loud and spoke only with the greatest difficulty.... It was as if my whole body was succumbing to a lethal poison."

A Harvard Medical School study of 55 Boston-area rest homes published in the Jan. 26, 1989, issue of The New England Journal of Medicine reported that 55% of the 1,201 nursing home residents it surveyed took at least one psychiatric drug with 39% being given anti-psychotics.

These are not prescribed to "treat" any condition. They are administered solely to turn the patient into a zombie incapable of complaining or presenting problems to staff Concerning their use on the elderly, Jerome Avorn, director of the program for the Analysis of Clinical Strategies at Harvard, pointed out, "Drugs do work. They do quiet them down. So does a lead pipe to the head." Larry Hodge, administrator at the Life Care Center in Tennessee, described the impact on the elderly of these drugs: "Too often they were so zonked out during their meals that their heads were in the mashed potatoes."

Wilda Henry told The Arizona Republic that her 83-year-old mother became "a vegetable" five weeks after taking Haldol. This powerful mind-altering chemical, which the Soviet Union used for years to control dissidents, left her mother babbling, drooling, shaking, and unable to control her bowel functions.

Anise Debose of Washington, D.C., said her 76-year-old father entered a nursing home active, laughing, and talking. Four days later, after taking Mellaril and four other drugs, "He was restrained to a chair as rigid as a board when I saw him. His head was thrown back and his mouth was limply hanging down. Both eyes were closed. The impression all of us had was that he was dead."

We're creating drug-induced insanity.

These chemicals, capable of throwing the minds of users into chaos, have a long and well-documented history of creating insanity in persons who take them. In 1956, two years after the introduction of Thorazine, researchers reported that the drug caused psychosis, hallucinations, and increased anxiety. They speculated that this drug-induced insanity arose from the chemically straitjacketing effect of the drug.

In 1961, researchers reported the case of a 27-year-old man who was given Thorazine, after which he "complained of 'feeling like an empty shell, floating around in the air,'" and said that he heard voices coming "from two small men standing on his chest." The researchers concluded that Thorazine was the cause of the man's "toxic psychosis."

Yet another paper, published in The American Journal of Psychiatry in 1964, found that major tranquilizers can "produce an acute psychotic reaction in an individual not previously psychotic." A 1975 paper described a negative effect called akathisia, a drug-induced inability to sit still comfortably.

Researcher Theodore Van Putten reported that nearly half of the 110 persons in the study had experienced akathisia. "[One woman] started to bang her head against the wall three days after an injection of [a major tranquilizer]. Her only utterance was: 'I just want to get rid of this whole body."' A woman who had been given these drugs for five days experienced "an upsurge in hallucinations, screaming, even more bizarre thinking, aggressive and also self-destructive outbursts, and agitated pacing or dancing." A third woman stated that, while on the tranquilizer, she felt hostile and hated everybody, and heard voices taunting her. Others complained of an "abject fear or terror" that was difficult for them to explain.

Such drug-induced symptoms are far worse than any underlying problems a person might have. Even more damning is the evidence that the damage caused by these drugs can be permanent.

Many types of psychiatric drugs, including the major tranquilizers, can cause lasting, grotesquely disfiguring nerve damage known as tardive dyskinesia or tardive dystonia. The muscles of the face and body contort and spasm involuntarily, drawing the face into hideous scowls and grimaces and twisting the body into bizarre contortions. These horrifying effects occur in more than 20% of persons "treated" with major tranquilizers and currently affect 400,000-1,000,000 Americans.

Psychiatrists theorize that these drugs damage the muscle-control portion of the brain in a way that makes it permanently "supersensitive" to messages passing down nerve pathways into the brain. The result is that this portion of the brain becomes permanently deranged. While the precise location of this brain damage is not known with certainty, there is no question that it exists. It is clearly visible in the faces of its tragic victims.

In the same way that major tranquilizers can throw the muscle-control portion of the brain into chaos, they also can make the thought-control area of the brain supersensitive, driving the person permanently insane. A 1980 study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry described 10 patients who suffered from this condition, which has been labeled "supersensitivity psychosis."

In the first stage, the individual becomes psychotic for a few days immediately after he or she stops taking the drugs. In the second, the insanity that emerges upon withdrawal from the psychiatric drug is persistent and may be irreversible. In the third stage, the psychosis is evident even while the patient is taking the psychiatric drugs. The study notes that, when this stage is reached, "in most cases" the person is doomed to be insane for life. This condition has created thousands of tortured victims, permanently destroyed, cast out of mental institutions to forage in garbage cans while wrestling with inner terrors implanted in their minds by psychiatric drugs.

There also is persuasive evidence that these psychiatric drugs can cause people to become violent. A Canadian research team that studied the effects of psychiatric drugs on prisoners found that "violent, aggressive incidents occurred significantly more frequently in inmates who were on psychotropic [psychiatric or mind-altering] medication than when these inmates were not...." Inmates on major tranquilizers were shown to be more than twice as violent as they were when not taking psychiatric drugs. The researchers attributed the marked increase in violence to akathisia.

The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that, four days after a patient started taking Haldol, "he became uncontrollably agitated, could not sit still, and paced for several hours." After complaining of "a jumpy feeling inside, and violent urges to assault anyone near him," the man attacked and tried to kill his dog. The researcher noted the irony that the chemical could cause violence, "a behavior the drug was meant to alleviate."

Published reports from researchers at Harvard Medical School, Yale University, Columbia University, the State University of New York, and the Veterans Administration have presented persuasive evidence that Prozac causes intense, violent, suicidal preoccupation. A study at the University of South Carolina had to be terminated abruptly when five subjects developed intense, violent, suicidal, and homicidal thoughts.

In the U.S. alone, approximately 4 million children are currently on the psychiatric drug Ritalin, a drug which the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) places in the same category (a schedule ll drug) as opium, morphine and cocaine.

Psychotic episodes and violent behavior are associated with chronic Ritalin abuse. Ritalin is the amphetamine-like drug widely prescribed to children for the contrived mental disease, "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder" (ADHD). Even Ritalin's manufacturer warns that "frank psychotic episodes can occur" with abusive use. And even the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists the major complication of Ritalin withdrawal is suicide.

Every time a child (or adult) commits an act of senseless violence, kills or commits a violent act, the first question that should be asked is what psychiatric mind-altering drugs was the child on? Who was the psychiatrist treating the child? If the child was not on psychiatric drugs at the time of the killing, when was he last on psychiatric drugs? Was he experiencing withdrawal effects from the drugs?

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The Greek word “pharmakia” literally signifies the use of medicine, drugs, and spells. It appears five times in the New Testament: in Gal 5:20, Rev 9:21, 18:23, 21:8, and 22:15. “Pharmakia” is usually translated in English Bible translations as either “witchcraft” or “sorceries”. It's noteworthy that the English word “pharmacy” derives from the Greek word “pharmakia”.  Of course modern pharmaceutical drugs can provide wonderful relief and even much-needed cures. But drugs - both legal and illegal - are also one of the enemy's most potent weapons for destroying lives. Steadily refusing to even try time-tested methods for handling behavioral problems such as discipline, exercise, diet-modification, productive work or spiritual warfare, the church plays into the enemy's hands by dishing out powerful mind-altering drugs like candy, creating insanity. While there may be cases where the use of such powerful medication is beneficial, it should always be the last resort after alternative therapies have been tried and failed - not the first option.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Swordplay In The Backyard Doesn't Mean You Can Take On The 3 Musketeers



William Lane Craig offered the following observation in response to a Christian who had been shaken in his faith from reading books by atheists and listening to Richard Dawkins ...

I find myself utterly baffled by the cavalier way in which many ill-equipped Christians expose themselves to material which is potentially destructive to them. It’s like someone who doesn’t know how to swim deciding to take the plunge in the heavy surf. Wouldn’t it be the sensible thing to do to first prepare yourself before venturing into dangerous waters?

Precisely.

Just because one may have been playing with pretend-swords in the backyard, does not mean he is prepared to take on the 3 Musketeers. While new Christians certainly have no business engaging such powerful foes of the faith, even a long-time Christian who has never bothered to educate himself is not "prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you" (1 Pet 3:15). While there is a place and time to engage potent enemies of the Faith, it must be done by those that are properly prepared and equipped, not by recruits still in Basic Training.

A Christian who does not have a solid grasp of Trinitarian theology based on Scriptural revelation, has no business discussing it with the Jehovah's Witness who shows up at his front door and who will most likely make minced meat out of him.

If you haven't acquainted yourself with the classical Kalām cosmological argument for the existence of God, or the increasingly powerful Teleological argument (which led Antony Flew, the most notorious atheist in the world for decades to change his mind at the age of 81 and renounce atheism), or the defense for God's existence on the basis and reality of morality and ethics - you're foolish to immerse yourself in the writings of someone like Richard Dawkins.

If you haven't attained a solid grasp on the essential, cardinal doctrines that define who is a true believer, you're insane to read the works of the likes of John Shelby Spong.

It's often asserted that the best defense against counterfeit currency is a thoroughly intimate and detailed knowledge of the real thing. One who has spent considerable time studying genuine currency, learning the intricate nuances of each particular denomination, the kind of ink that is used in printing and even the special paper that is used, eventually reaches the point of knowing by sight, smell, feel and even sound the real thing and will not be easily fooled by the counterfeit. As Craig points out to those foolish enough engage the enemy unprepared,

Do we forget that there is an enemy of our souls who hates us intensely, is bent on our destruction, and will use anything he can to undermine our faith or render us ineffective in God’s hands? Are we so naïve?

The New Testament often uses military metaphors to describe the Christian with good reason. We are engaged in a cosmic war with an unseen enemy who is a master of deception and does not hesitate to use devastating weapons of mass destruction.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  [Eph 6.10-17]

Sadly far too many Christians take lightly the war in which we are all engaged (whether we realize it or not) and while dressed as for a Sunday afternoon barbeque, suddenly and unexpectedly find themselves in the confusion of combat on the receiving end of powerfully destructive weapons.

Craig is correct that all Christians "are called to be disciples, which in the Greek means “learners.” " He penetratingly asks those who ignorantly stumble onto the battlefield ill-prepared,

"Is what you’re doing your idea of what Christian discipleship looks like? Is this the path to transformation by “the renewal of the mind” (Romans 12.1-2)?"

Amen. If you doubt the seriousness and ferocity of the war we are engaged in, watch this video in entirety.