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Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned From The Magician’s Nephew By C.S. Lewis
(Part 2)

 

The dumb beasts who I have not chosen are yours also. Treat them gently and cherish them but do not go back to their ways lest you cease to be talking beasts. From out of them you were taken and out of them you can return. Do not so. *** What you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing: It also depends on what sort of person you are. *** Now the trouble with trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed. *** If a fellow can’t trust his nose, what is he to trust? *** A chap don’t exactly know till he’s been tried. *** Perhaps it is best not to ask too many questions. *** You can’t be too careful in these magical places. You never know what may be watching you. *** I don’t care much about living on and on after everyone I know is dead. I’d rather live an ordinary time and die and go to Heaven. *** Oh, Adam’s sons! How cleverly you defend yourselves against all that might do you good. *** Be just and merciful and brave. The blessing is upon you. *** That is what happens to those who pluck and eat fruits at the wrong time and in the wrong way. The fruit is good, but they loathe it ever after. *** Things always work according to their nature. *** When things go wrong, you’’ find they usually go on getting worse for some time; but when things once start going right they often go on getting better and better.

Responses to Vox 

Exodus 3:7-10

In verse 9, God’s statement that “now the cry of the Israelites has reached me” clearly implies that it had not reached Him prior to that moment. I ask TRP, did God previously know about their suffering prior to hearing that cry? And at which point did He become concerned about their suffering, prior to hearing that cry or as a result of it?

I would say that God knew before creation the exact amount of suffering the Israelites would experience. He had concern for it throughout their suffering and this quote from God states that this is the time that he is going to do something about it.

Now that’s a lot, but I suspect that you are thinking that there was some suffering that God was unaware of it until this point (if not, just correct me). If you need proof that this is not the case I’ll go back to the same psalm -

Psalm 139:4 – Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.

This says that God knows what we are going to say, before we say it. Assuming that any Israelite vocalized his dissatisfaction of his treatment at the hands of the Egyptians, God knew it at that point at the latest.

Another thing to add to your list of thing that God knows.

But if you don’t think God knew that the Israelites were going to suffer before it happened, you should consider Genesis 15:13 – “Then the LORD said to him, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years.”

And Nate, please note that this is one of the majority of God’s predictions where the thing he is predicting was to be done by someone else.

====

Leviticus 18:24-28
24 “‘Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. 25 Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. 26 But you must keep my decrees and my laws. The native-born and the aliens living among you must not do any of these detestable things, 27 for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. 28 And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.

I ask TRP, is this prophetic warning an if/then statement or not? Was it possible for the Israelites to not defile the land and therefore not be driven out? If not, then why did God pretend to offer the Israelites a choice when He was actually planning to cause them to defile the land and cause it to vomit them out?

This prophetic warning was an if/then statement. From the perspective of the Israelites it was clearly possible for them not to defile the land. From God’s perspective, he knew what they were going to do, so no, in that way, it was not forever possible. But he did offer them a real choice to obey and for some time (too short) they did obey. I’m sure this warning encouraged them to obey as long as they did. And no, God was not pretending. Nor has he ever.

====

Numbers 3:12-13
12 “I have taken the Levites from among the Israelites in place of the first male offspring of every Israelite woman. The Levites are mine, 13 for all the firstborn are mine. When I struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, I set apart for myself every firstborn in Israel, whether man or animal. They are to be mine. I am the LORD.”

The significance here requires a reference to Exodus 12:23. When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.

Now, who struck down the firstborn, the LORD or the destroyer? Are the LORD and the destroyer one and the same? This is an extremely important question, as it cuts to the very heart of the sovereignty issue and has important ramifications for the capacity/action aspect of the debate as well.

As I look, I see that people are unsure who the destroyer is, but I would say that the destroyer was an angel working on God’s behalf. Psalm 78:49 says it was “a band of destroying angels”. And there are several verses (Ex. 11:4-5, Ex. 12:12-13, 23, 29,Ex. 13:15,Num. 3:13,Num. 8:17,Num. 33:4,Ps. 78:51,Ps. 105:36, Ps. 135:8,Ps. 136:10) that indicate that it was God who did the work. So assuming the destroyer was not God, the correct answer to the question ‘which one’ is ‘both’. (And thanks to for Bob for helping me find these verses)

====

Deuteronomy 1:26-43

Rebellion Against the LORD
26 But you were unwilling to go up; you rebelled against the command of the LORD your God. . . .

Did the people of Israel rebel against the Lord’s command or not? Was it God’s will that they rebel against Him or was it their will? Was it God’s original plan for Moses and the people of Israel to enter Canaan or did He always intend for them to die in the desert? Was God genuinely angry, or was He merely pretending to be angry for the purpose of making the puppet show seem more convincing to the puppets whose strings He was pulling?


They did rebel against the Lord’s command. Do you need me to go into the idea of the two wills of God? It was God’s permissive will that they rebel against him and it was their free will that they rebel against him. It was God’s original plan for them to die in the desert. God made it happen because it would glorify himself or help all things work together for those who love him. But the Israelites were sinful and responsible for their sin and God was genuinely angry at them for it.

Again, it’s not good enough to call these ideas crazy, illogical, or ridiculous. Show me the Bible verses that show I’m wrong.

And regarding your repeated statement that there are “literally hundreds of verses that are equally relevant and similarly supportive of the Open View position.” This comment will carry more weight when you show that these verses support your view.
 
 

Since I don’t have a full response to Vox yet, I thought I’d post something completely different.

I am not really what you would call a visionary, at least with dollars.

So, just as an example, if I had been a millionaire a hundred years ago and someone had asked me to invest  in a new electric company before electricity was widely used I would have been all –

Me: “Okay, my interest is piqued. It looks like this technology is pretty interesting. But you’re saying you could make money with it. How, exactly?

Inventor: Well eventually it could have many uses.

Me: Like what?

Inventor:Um . . electric lights for example. When you walked into a new room that happened to be dark, you could just flip some kind of switch and the room would be light. . . . I have a sample switch here.

Me: But that’s what oil lamps are for. We just bring it from the last room we were in.

Inventor:  But this way you could light many rooms.

Me: Yeah, . . . or . . . I could just by more lamps.

Inventor: But this way the light turns on immediately. With a switch like this, see?

Me: Yeah, I see. But it only takes me about five seconds to light a lamp.

Inventor: Well, . . .

Me: I mean, it’s not like, every time I light a lamp I’m thinking “Boy, I wish this would go faster!”

Inventor: Okay, but. -

Me: Or if I’m late to something, I don’t think ‘Oh curse that lamp! If it hadn’t taken so much time, I might be on time!’

Inventor: Okay, but you wouldn’t just use it for lamps. You could potentially use it for other things.

Me: Like what?

Inventor: Well, anything that requires heat.

Me: Well, an iron requires heat.

Inventor: An Iron?

Me: Yeah, you know, to take the wrinkles out of clothes.

Inventor: I see, yeah, that could very easily be built to use electricity.

Me: And it would be hot immediately? That is something I have to wait for.

Inventor: Well, no. To get something with that much mass hot would probably require a few minutes.

Me: A few minutes? But that’s what it takes now!

Inventor: But it would be more simple, and you wouldn’t need a fire.

Me: I always have a fire! That’s how we cook and keep our house warm!

Inventor: Well, -

Me: And you keep talking about this like it’s in the future. Can’t we get an electric iron now?

Inventor: Well, I must admit, I haven’t seen one before. But I’m sure that in a few years, someone will build them and sell them and . .

Me: In a few years? You mean like in twenty years, I bet. So you are hoping that people will get this electristy -

Inventor: Electricity.

Me: Whatever, and they will just have to wait until people invent, build and sell them products that will make it useful.

Inventor: I’m pretty sure it won’t take twenty years.

Me: Again. Whatever. Okay, so how would a home get electri-ci-ty.

Inventor: Okay, I’m glad you asked. That’s one reason we need investors. In order for a home to get electricity there has to be a wire from the home all the way to the electric company. And that will be somewhat expensive, so . . .

Me: What? You never mentioned this! A wire all that way? Just laying on the ground? So that any fool with an ax could just some around and screw everything up?

Inventor: Well, we were thinking about putting them up on some kind of pole. Besides, we would mark the cables as dangerous, so they wouldn’t –

Me: Dangerous? You never said anything about dangerous!

Inventor: Well, an open wire could shoot sparks or -

Me: Shoot sparks. . . . Hmmm . . . Here, let me ask you a question. . . . Did you know that homes are made out of wood?

Inventor: Well, yes

Me: And that a few sparks could take down a whole building.

Inventor: Yes, but –

Me: And you want this to be wired in every room of a house? Excuse me, every room where I want to save five seconds to get some light in there?

Inventor: The wire would be insulated and . . . and in the house the power wouldn’t be as strong.

Me: Yes, I’m sure that will be a comfort to all the home owners as they wait for their house to suddenly combust. While they’re sleeping. In very flammable beds.

Inventor: I CAN ASSURE YOU . . . . I can assure you, it’s quite safe in homes.

Me: Okay, let’s assume for the sake of the argument that it’s “safe”.<Here I would lift up my fingers and do the quotation mark thing> Let’s get back to this wire on poles idea.

Inventor: Yes, let’s. We have drawn up the plans -

Me: Wires from the electric company to every home?

Inventor: Every home with electricity, yes.

Me: Even to homes in large towns.

Inventor: . . . . Yes. And we’ve already-

Me: I’m sure the towns will just love that!

Inventor: Well, . . .

Me: Miles of unsightly, “dangerous” wire, flowing through every part of their town. I’m sure the town council members, when asked for permission to do this, will just say “Sound’s great! Assuming that less than fifty people are killed by these wires next year and assuming that our population only drops by less than five or ten percent because of how ugly they are, we’re sure to get re-elected next fall!”

Inventor: There’s no way that fifty people are going to –

Me: Okay, 40, then. No, Trust me on this one. This is not going to take off. Thirty years from now, we’ll still be lighting lamps and throwing irons into the fire. Electricity is going to be a passing trend. . . .
==

It’s a little scary to think what would have happened throughout history if people like me had had the money.

For those of you just joining us – We last we heard from our heroes – Vox has just posted a set of five passages from the first five books of the bible and asked Jamsco to answer some questions about each of them. . . .

Vox, I am impressed with your list. They make a good representative of the Aprivistan viewpoint. I hope to get to all of them soon. But as you suggest, I will pick one – Genesis.

I pick this one because -
(A) It was first on your list.
(B) It requires the simplest response, and
(C) It is about this one that I am the most intrigued to see you response to my response. So:

Regarding Genesis 3:9

But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”

You ask:
There are three possibilities here. Either (1)God was lying to the man about not knowing where he was, (2) He was asking rhetorical questions to which He already knew the answer, or (3) He did not know where the man was and did not know – as opposed to correctly deduced – that the man had eaten from the tree that He had commended him not to eat from. I ask TRP, which he believes to be the correct answer?

I Choose 2 – God knew where Adam was.

I know this to be the right choice, because of Psalm 139:

    7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
       Where can I flee from your presence?
    8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
       if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
    9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
       if I settle on the far side of the sea,
    10 even there your hand will guide me,
       your right hand will hold me fast.
    11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
       and the light become night around me,”
    12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
       the night will shine like the day,
       for darkness is as light to you.

Maybe you should add this to your list of things that God knows: God sees where people are.

And I’ll request this in advance this time: Vox, when you respond, don’t just say I’m crazy. Tell us specifically how you read the passages (Genesis and Psalms).

===

I’d like to point out that Bethyada has said in the comments that we should choose one topic. I agree that Vox and I have been all of over the place. I hope that choosing one bible passage to focus on narrows our scope a little.

Also, Dominic says that I haven’t made many strong proactive arguments. I agree that at this point I have been mostly reacting to Vox’s unique theology. I hope to remedy this soon.

There is a strange similarity between omniderigistes and the New Atheists. Both groups take a small number of specific Bible verses, assign one reasonable interpretation to them, and then argue that it is the only possible interpretation in defiance of numerous equally possible alternatives that are better supported by historical facts, logic and other Bible verses.
- Vox Day 11/22/2007

In fact, this is also a very good example of the very omniderigiste/atheist error that I mentioned in my first post on the matter:

1. Take a Bible verse
2. Assign a possible meaning to it.
3. Insist this is the ONLY possible meaning, even when the meaning doesn’t make sense. (In this case, the problem is apparent a priori, but usually it is only evident when considered in context with other, contradictory verses.)
4. Ignore all other plausible interpretations, especially more logical and Biblically supported ones.

- Vox Day 11/26/2007

Omniderigent logic is atheist logic.
- Vox Day 11/27/2007 (Comments)

After wading through a lot of atheist logic, I’ve come to realize the inherent connections between omniderigence and atheist thinking.
- Vox Day 11/27/2007 (Comments)

Vox – Your readers and I are clear that this is what you think. We get it. At least I do, and despite what you say, your readers have pretty good reading comprehension, even the ones who disagree with you. So in case you were thinking about using it as part of your response to my next post, a word to the wise: Maybe four times in a week is enough.

This is not to say that you have given any evidence to support this claim. Regarding Free Will – show me where I have denied that humans have it.

And regarding the series of four steps listed above. Vox, are you aware that this is what anyone thinks about anyone else who uses the Bible to disagree with them? Don’t you find it coincidental that you think this of the two groups you have primarily spent your time debating religious matters with?

Any time you start doing something you’d rather not do, because you believe it is the right thing to do or because God wants you to do it, you are doing well.

Vox puts in a quick jab.

I would have thought that he knew me well enough by now to know that it is always a mistake to confuse any slowness in showing my cards with a poor or nonexistent hand.

Hey, Mr. Reading Comprehension! I showed no such confusion. Indeed I mentioned that I was aware “that other bible passages would be brought up to challenge” compatiblism.

And he says regarding my biblical interpretation:
The point is that that the quoted verses only state what God CAN do with regards to these subjects, not what He IS ALWAYS DOING. In other words, they are a statement about CAPACITY and not about ACTION.

I guess I’ll ask for a point of clarification. Do you actually believe that God CAN do this? Do you believe he DOES do this? If so, how? (Yes, I know, you don’t know exactly – take a stab at it!) How do you picture God acting in the way this Bible passage says.
Oh, and

Hey, Mr. Biblical Awareness (AKA Nate)!

I don’t generally comment on Vox’s comments section, but -
 
Re: “Consider Jesus’s healings. If God was controlling everything… then one must conclude that God made those people sick. So then Jesus’ healings were refuting the Will of God. Or God made them ill specificly to give Jesus the opportunity to heal them. I’m hoping no one seriously holds this view but if so… well… I’ll point and laugh.”

Have you ever read John 9?

The long awaited moment has come – Vox Day has responded to my post and for his first shot he quotes from his new book – The Irrational Atheist.

In the highlighted section, he responds to an argument posited by one of the New Atheists, Richard Dawkins:

“If God is omniscient, he must already know how he is going to intervene to change the course of history using his omnipotence. But that means he can’t change his mind about his intervention, which means he is not omnipotent.”

I agree with Vox – this is a silly and superficial argument. All one need do to counter it is to remind the reader that God is outside of time and the conflict is removed. But I think Vox highlighted this argument to give him an opportunity in his book to show that he is no Calvinist.

Here is a section from Vox’s response, but you can read it all here:

First, it is important to note that the Christian God, the god towards whom Dawkins directs the great majority of his attacks, makes no broad claims to omniscience. Although there are eighty-seven references to the things that the biblical God knows, only a single example could potentially be interpreted as a universal claim to complete knowledge.

Among the things that God claims to know are the following: He knows the way to wisdom and where it dwells, he knows the day of the wicked is coming, he knows the secrets of men’s hearts, he knows the thoughts of men and their futility. He knows the proud from afar, he knows what lies in darkness, and he knows what you need before you ask him. He knows the Son, he knows the day and the hour that the heavens and the earth shall pass away, he knows the mind of the Spirit and that the Apostle Paul loved the Corinthians. He knows who are his, he knows how to rescue godly men from trials, and perhaps most importantly, he knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.

Now it should be noted, that for purposes of his book, Vox need only show that it is possible to remove the conflict in the paradox posed by the atheist. Vox’s response works to meet this goal. But our goal here is to learn the biblical truth about God.

(There is a fairly significant omission to his list of things God knows, I think: God knows, indeed he knew from creation, the names of all of the elect. We can see this in more than one spot – notably Ephesians 1: 3-6 and 1 Peter 1: 2)

Then in response to my question: What would it take for you to believe that God is in control to the degree that I am arguing - Vox responds:

(2) A significant rewriting of the Bible which eliminates all of the many obvious implications and outright demonstrations that God is not actively managing every single Earthly event and individual action.

And then he goes on . .

There is a strange similarity between omniderigistes and the New Atheists. Both groups take a small number of specific Bible verses, assign one reasonable interpretation to them, and then argue that it is the only possible interpretation in defiance of numerous equally possible alternatives that are better supported by historical facts, logic and other Bible verses.

There is some irony here in that Vox is slow to give his own bible verses. The passages referred to above do not in any way prove that his interpretation is true, he can only use them to show that his interpretation is possible.

I ask Vox – how many Bible passages do you want? You can find them more than a few in my “Both Ways” category and I will be giving more presently. But I send the challenge back.

Please show me the ‘outright demonstrations’ where God is not actively managing what goes on in our world.

I talked with Pastor Piper a few weeks back about this online debate that I was going to be having, specifically to ask him about a bible passage which is challenging to the Compatibleist viewpoint, and he warned me that other bible passages would be brought up to challenge it. So I am interested to see which approach you will take.

But to show that I know the requirement to use Bible verses goes both ways, here is a passage that we studied in our Adult Sunday School Class yesterday: 1 Samuel 2: 6-8

6 “The LORD brings death and makes alive;
       he brings down to the grave [c] and raises up.
7 The LORD sends poverty and wealth;
       he humbles and he exalts.
8 He raises the poor from the dust
       and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
       he seats them with princes
       and has them inherit a throne of honor.
       “For the foundations of the earth are the LORD’s;
       upon them he has set the world.

This says that God has controls how much wealth individual people have. Vox, wouldn’t you say that this is evidence that God has an active roll in what happens on earth? You will say that you read it differently. I am curious as to how.

Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned From “The Magician’s Nephew” By C.S. Lewis (Part 1) 

  

Grownups are always thinking of un-interesting explanations. *** No Great Wisdom can be reached without sacrifice ***  Very well, I’ll go. But there’s one thing I jolly well mean to say first. I didn’t believe in Magic till today. I see now it’s real. Well, if it is, I suppose all the old fairly tales are more or less true. And you’re simply a wicked, cruel magician like the ones in the stories. Well, I’ve never read a story in which people of that sort weren’t paid out in the end and I bet you will be. And serve you right. *** Does not Magic go with the royal blood? *** I expect most witches are like that. They are not interested in things or people unless they can use them; they are terribly practical. *** Children have one kind of silliness, as you know, and grown-ups have another kind. *** Keep cool everyone, that’s what I say. *** And if we’re dead, and I don’t deny it might be- well, you got to remember that worse things ‘appen at sea and a chap’s got to die sometime. And there ain’t nothing to be afraid of if a chap’s let a decent life. And if you ask me, I think the best thing we could do to pass the time would be to sing a ‘ymn. *** Awake. Love. Think. Speak. Be walking trees. Be talking beasts. Be divine waters. *** Creatures, I give you yourselves. I give you forever this land. . . I give you the woods, the fruits, the rivers. I give you the stars and I give you myself.

The Adventures of Ogden: Man of the Suburb
Episode 3 – November – Giving Thanks

Ogden woke up, and it took a few seconds to gain his bearings. He was in a car, in the back seat, and his younger sister, Terry, was looking at him, trying to stifle a grin. Why was he waking up in a car? And then he felt the pain in his hand and he looked at it, very clumsily bandaged.

“You fainted,” said Terry, obviously trying not to giggle.

“I fainted?” Ogden asked

“Yep!”

It came to him quickly. Whole family together for Thanksgiving, a little touch football outside, listening to the uncles doing dueling jokes, chatting with Terry’s new boyfriend Chad. Dad had offered to let him carve the turkey and . . . . that’s all he could remember.

“You cut yourself on the carving knife”
“I did?”
Ogden was now experiencing a faint memory of seeing a good amount of blood, but he didn’t want to think about it.

A voice came from the front seat “That’s right. A pretty impressive cut. Your aunt Janice ran screaming from the room” Ogden looked up. Chad was driving them to the hospital.

“Well,” said Ogden, sitting up a little, “It looks like my reaction wasn’t that impressive either.”

There was a pause in the conversation.

“So I assume we’re going to the hospital”
“That’s correct,” giggled Terry, “Mom said she’d hold off on serving the food until we get back.”

“So I’m screwing up the big meal for everyone.”

“Believe me, Ogden” said Chad, “No one’s blaming you. They were all feeling so sorry for you, and your Grandma called you a hero.”

“Ah.” That sounded like Grandma. So kind. More so since Grandpa had died.

So now, thought Ogden, this is what was going to happen. They would soon be getting to the hospital, the nurse would hear about his hand, they would wait three hours, the doctor would finally see him and sew him up, which would take twenty minutes, during every single minute of which Ogden would be liable to faint again. It would hurt. And they wouldn’t get home until 7:00, by which time everyone would be irritable and trying somewhat unsuccessfully to hide it.

==

“So, what happened?” asked Anna Joy, Ogden’s ten year old daughter fifteen years later, “Was it as bad as you expected?”

Anna was sitting between Mom and Dad on the couch, happy to be allowed to stay up and talk to them when her brother and sister were already in bed.

“No, actually. The wait was only about an hour, I was able to handle the work on my hand without losing consciousness and we were sitting down to eat before 4:30. And I think the visible happiness was authentic.”

“What about your hand?”
“Well, it healed pretty quickly, but you can still see the scar, see?” Ogden showed it to his daughter. The scar was faint but evident.
“And that was an interesting meal. I couldn’t use this hand, so Grandma offered to cut everything for me.”
“I imagine that was a humbling experience for you as a twenty five year old,” said Gretta.
“It was indeed,” replied Ogden. “But Grandma loved helping out. She still does.”
“Why didn’t you help him,” Anna asked her mom.
Ogden chuckled, “Oh, we hadn’t met yet.”
“Oh yeah,” said Anna. It was always sobering to consider your parents before they’d met. What if they never had?

“But here’s the interesting thing,” said Ogden, “I had taken a dim opinion of uncle Chad from the first day I met him. My immediate opinion of him was that he was someone who only liked to talk to people and was too interested in making himself look good. But my accident caused me to see him in a different light. He made a real sacrifice when he offered to drive me to the hospital. He really was quite helpful. I had been too quick to judge. I thank God for that lesson.”

“I like Uncle Chad!” said Anna Joy.
“So do I, now. And I am actually glad that I cut my hand, because it gave me an opportunity to rethink my opinion of him.”

“So that’s why they never let you carve the turkey!”
Happy Thanksgiving from the Responsible Puppet.
 

Just in time for Thanksgiving Weekend, a suggestion from the Original Cyberpunk

“There’s one piece of one-size-fits-all advice that I keep on giving out. Whenever would-be writers complain to me that they just can’t find the time to write, I say, “Turn off the television.” Whenever my kids complain to me that school’s too hard and they can’t find the time to do all their homework and required reading, I say, “Turn off the television.” When even non-writers complain to me that their lives are just too complicated and they can never seem to find the hours in the day to do everything that needs to be done, I say, “TURN OFF YOUR . . . “

You don’t really care about that football game anyway. Admit it.

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him, all creatures here below.
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

In yesterday’s sermon he noted their title (among several others) - “Born Again Christians Just As Likely to Divorce As Are Non-Christians.” – and says:

====================

A Profound Mistake
Now I want to say loud and clear that when the Barna Group uses term “born again” to describe American church-goers whose lives are indistinguishable from the world, and who sin as much as the world, and sacrifice for others as little as the world, and embrace injustice as readily as the world, and covet things as greedily as the world, and enjoy God-ignoring entertainment as enthusiastically as the world—when the term “born again” is used to describe these professing Christians, the Barna Group is making a profound mistake. It is using the biblical term “born again” in a way that would make it unrecognizable by Jesus and the biblical writers.

Here is the way the researchers defined “born again” in their research:

“Born again Christians” were defined in these surveys as people who said they have made “a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today” and who also indicated they believe that when they die they will go to Heaven because they had confessed their sins and had accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. Respondents were not asked to describe themselves as “born again.” Being classified as “born again” is not dependent upon church or denominational affiliation or involvement.

In other words, in this research the term “born again” refers to people who say things. They say, “I have a personal commitment to Jesus Christ. It’s important to me.” They say, “I believe that I will go to heaven when I die. I have confessed my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior.” Then the Barna Group takes them at their word, ascribes to them the infinitely important reality of the new birth, and then blasphemes that precious biblical reality by saying that regenerate hearts have no more victory over sin than unregenerate hearts.

==========================

You can read the whole sermon here.

Behind the Cascade Lodge Restaurant

A unique place in the world – My boys and I stand at a point.

 I look ahead and up at the steep stairway,
  Moss covered wood railing
  Uneven steps that lead to the bright sunlit trees at the top of a ridge.
 that we are about to go up.
 I look behind and see the creek 
  Rock covered
  A pleasant, trickling stream flowing
  Water that has come from deep inside the thick north woods forest
  And is heading into the great lake
 I look to my left and see a small wooden cabin.
  With a chimney
  And a few small windows
 I look to my right and see the back of a restaurant.
We are above it, so we see mostly roof.
  We see the exhaust vents from the kitchen
  The back of this building is flat and dark

But one might ask – what is the poignancy here?
And sir, my answer:

 Looking ahead, I see steps that will be a happy challenge
for a three year old to climb 
  and for a six year old to count 
  and for a five year old who can’t wait to look down from the top of the ridge.
 Looking behind, I see the lowest part of a creek
That just two days ago, my boys and I hiked up
I see rocks that we all worked together to get across
 Looking to the left I see a cozy getaway log cabin
  Where my wife and I have spent romantic nights
  Listening to a crackling fire inside
 and the trickling creek outside.
 Looking to the right (Although it is not pretty to look at from this view)
 I see the dining hall
where we have eaten many pancakes
my one-year-old son smiled at old ladies
 who smiled back
  and my two-year-old showed her pink and blue crayon drawings
to another artist, fifty years older.

And what of those near things that are out of site?
Not quite in view?
 Looking ahead I think of the much larger river
   Beyond the steps
   Perhaps a third of a mile away
   With canyons and pine trees and tall wooden bridges
  Carving it’s place into the rock
 Looking behind I think of the cozy main lodge
   Beyond the creek
  With the old magazines and pictures
  And the grandiose fireplace.
  And grand piano where my wife and her sister once played a duet
Looking to the left I think of the open outdoor chapel among pine trees
  Beyond the log cabin
 Where a family sat and prayed and sang and read from the bible
And looking beyond the restaurant to my right, I think of the great lake
 Powerful and majestic
 Reflecting the power and majesty of it’s Creator
 Our presence here is what I tried to describe in the Georgia Hospital.
It’s good to be here.
I wonder . . .
What do others see when they come to this spot?

Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned From Calvin (Part 6)

Circa 1988. Warning: This one has Dark Undertones.

You know, sometimes it seems things go by too quickly. We’re so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us that we don’t take the time to enjoy where we are. Days go by and we hardly notice them. Life becomes a blur. Often it takes some calamity to make us live in the present. Then suddenly we wake up and see all the mistakes we’ve made. But it’s too late to change anything. *** Here I am, waiting for the bus. Eleven more years of school to go. Then college, then maybe graduate school, and then I work until I die. What kind of world is this?! You only get five years to be a kid?? What about exploring and discovering and playing? Those things are important too! ***  Enjoy this while you can! I’ll be a hulking, surly teen-ager before you know it!! *** You should get your stories straight with Mom, Mr. Britannica! *** Archeologists dig slowly and carefully, using small, delicate tools. Each rock has to be painstakingly brushed and scraped so nothing is broken or missed. Archeologists have the most mind-numbing job on the planet. *** You’ve got to help me! I’m in big trouble! You know how Dad said I could use his binoculars as longs as I was extra careful with them? Well, I just broke them by accident! Now I need some advice. Should I run away, or commit hara-kiri? *** At times like these, all Mom can think of is how long she was in labor with me. *** Yes, we’re just tiny specks on a planet particle, hurling through the infinite blackness. *** You can’t be cool if you don’t have an attitude. *** I’ve decided to be a fatalist. All events are preordained and unalterable. Whatever will be will be. That way, if anything bad happens, it’s not my fault. It’s fate. *** When I’m president, I’ll have things whipped into shape in no time. *** Why can’t I ever build character at a Miami condo or a casino somewhere? *** Ever notice how tense grown-ups get when they’re recreating? *** Any game without push-ups, hits or noogies is a sissy game.

Here is the last section of this short story. If you haven’t read the first two parts here they are:

Read Part 1

Read Part 2
And as always, I would appreciate any feedback.

====
A week and a day later Knifeweed was shocked at how poorly things were going. In the hours after ScarMak’s breath had infected the honorable man entire body, he had indeed become more and more alert. Acutely alert. Terrifyingly alert. He had, on occasion, screamed with agonizing alertness. This had been fun to watch. No demon, no matter how forward thinking, could deny that. And again, hopes had illogically been raised, even in Knifeweed’s mind.

But the honorable man had continued to pray; his faith had continued uninterrupted, as expected. There was to be no Creator cursing as the chief had foolishly predicted at the beginning of the last meeting. Why was he so bold?

And even the hopes for the man’s wife soul had been dashed. Things had looked extremely promising at first. She had initially responded in the way they had hoped the man would. She, having lost her children and now with the fear and desperation of (what must be to her) the great possibility of watching her husband die, had momentarily lashed out against her creator. But her husband had pointed out her folly and she had calmed her self and now, as she watched her husband’s response, to their distress and dismay, was learning startlingly strong lessons in accepting evil from her creator.
 
And now these friends! They had been with him a week and what was their choice of activity? Did they try to comfort him with wrong minded and empty comforts and advice (which might have brought thoughts of sinful bitterness to the Honorable man’s mind.)

No, curse them, they chose the least helpful way – they had just sat silent near the Honorable man. For nearly seven days now the watching demons had whispered, grumbling. Where was these men’s selfishness? Didn’t they have more important things to do? Leave him in his suffering! Or at least say something! Something angry, judgmental or proud sounding!

But no, they just sat, Satan curse them!

But as he watched, the honorable man stirred himself. And then he began to speak.

Knifeweed listened intently. As one might guess, they weren’t cheerful words. In fact they were quite . . . negative. Nothing sinful, just venting. But perhaps it might . . .

Yes, one of the friends was obviously bothered by this. He begins to speak. Defending God, – not much hope there, just a misunderstanding of the Honorable man’s words. But there was some opportunity there! Knifeweed and the other demons begin to work on the other friends.

“There is no doubt. He must have sinned. He must have serious unconfessed sin. You should confront him.”

“Hey, wasn’t that blasphemy? You can’t let him get away with that!”

And now another friend is entering into the discussion . . .

Yes, there was some promise here.
==

Knifewood yawned. This was becoming annoying and boring. He had listened for hours. He’d heard much truth spoken for wrong reasons. Falsehood spoken with relatively pure motivations.  More misunderstanding and misplaced anger. And so much dangerous God glorification, too close to right on the mark. Even his best temptors were getting confused. What untruth should they be trying to instill now, again? . . . .

. . . Well, . . . . . maybe if we . . . . could we try . . .

Okay, Game over. God had interrupted and now was talking directly to the honorable man. Sure, of course. They knew it couldn’t last. They should have guessed that at some point, the hated King was going to put a stop all these words

And now the men would all learn. And forget ever getting these guys to doubt again! And then there would be – Yep, there it is. The man repenting.

And then the forgiveness . . .
And then the healing . . .
And then, if God chose the most merciful path, (which he did too often!) the blessing . . .
And then the Thanksgiving and Praise!

The temptors all snuck away. Lucky them. He had to stay and watch the horrific ending to this story. . .

==

Hundreds of years later, Knifeweed after much time away, found himself assigned back to this region, and so he had returned. An urgent mission. An important discovery: The story of the honorable man had been written down by one of the man’s friends (Where had the spies been? Why hadn’t he learned this as it happened?) Now there were rumors of rekindled interest in this document. He searched where his informant had suggested and found this document on a stack of scrolls soon to be read by a priest – an expert in literature and theology. As the priest picked it up, Knifeweed, knowing the truth that could be released to many if they didn’t stop it, brought in a team of able tempters. They shot thoughts at him as he read.

You don’t know where this story comes from. It may be false. It may teach falsehood about God.

This book gives Satan too much credit.

No, this book gives God too much credit. It’s main character seems to blame God for the evil that happens to him. Isn’t that blasphemy?

Boy, that ending is too pat. Blessed with twice as much as before the curse? Would anyone believe that? Do you?

He watched with dread as he saw the man’s mind open up to new truths about God. His dread continued as the man (in turn) developed a more sobered mind and then a more cheerful faith as he read the poetry. His dread grew as he watched the man get up when he had finished it, and carry the scroll to the chief priest. His dread reached its zenith, two days later, when the chief priest ordered that two dozen copies be made and sent to priests around the nation.

Ugh! Even if they kept at their hard work day and night for months, it might now be years or even decades before the chosen people again forget the name “Job.”

If you don’t believe that God controls (ordains, wills, is behind, causes) sin, I’d like to hear how you can read the twenty one verse book of Obadiah and not get from it these two main truths.

1. God is aware of the great evil done by the nation of Edom.
2. God’s chosen punishment is going to be sinful acts done against Edom.

(Written and scheduled yesterday, before Vox’s post.)

It’s time to face facts: There are people with sound mind who have put great thought into it, who, nevertheless, strongly disagree with you on that subject you feel is so important. They are not all crazy or sheep. Maybe even most of them aren’t.

No, I did not have the guts to actually send this to a coworker-guy outside our department in response to his last email a few years ago (even though I was frustrated enough to type it out):

I have two problems with your suggestion: (1) the data in <one source> are not at all similar to <the other source>, and (2) it still doesn’t come close to answering the question I have posed now five times (in different ways) in this email stream, namely – quoting from my last email, two emails below: Who can help us determine the mapping of the two fields <the two fields in question>?

I know that there are different reasons for sending out an email, and one of them is to communicate to the recipient: Hey look, I can send out an email!  I’ll not deny that this reason may have been a minor motivation in my sending out my last response.

But there is another (some would say a more important) reason for sending out an email, and that is to attain the following goal: To get the recipient to read and comprehend the actual message in the email. And in the case where the email is a request for data (as this was) to respond with either an answer, or a statement explaining that the recipient doesn’t have available to him/her at present. Not a set of words apparently chosen at random.

So you can understand my frustration when your last email sent in response to my last email appeared to disregard completely the content of the email to which it was responding.

Perhaps next time, in hopes of preventing this misunderstanding, I will put this as a disclaimer:

“* * * * * Please Consider Actually Reading The Content of this Email Before Responding * * * * *.”

Would that be helpful?

<Jamsco>

Night On The Sea

By Carl, Eldest Son of Jamsco – Age 9

The sea is bare,
No boat is there,
There is mist in the air,

But I don’t have a care,
You have nothing to bear,
In the open night air.

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