Friday, December 7, 2007

For God and Country

That’s my father on the right with a string on his finger. On the left his younger brother David on leave from the Navy. Together again with their sister on that all so familiar Missouri farm late in November. The “Dust Bowl Days” were past and “Great Depression” over. It had been a wonderful time, that Thanksgiving of 1941. And it was after 2 AM as my father gently triggered the camera shutter. A few hours later, David was gone.

The U.S.S. Oglala, bucking the waves under full power, urgently propelled toward its Pacific destination. It had to arrive at the appointed time. However, fatigue eventually had its toll on the minelayer, a WW1 converted passenger steamer. Silently adrift, it summoned assistance. After a tow cable was attached and the feverish pace resumed, David commented to his superior: “If we go any faster that cable is ‘gona’ snap.” And “snap” it did!

The U.S.S. Oglala entered Pearl Harbor during the early morning hours of December 7, the last to arrive. It moored “side by side” with the U.S.S. Helena, completing the formation of "Battleship Row."

And as the sun rose on “December 7, 1941,” most of the Oglala crew, including her commanding officer, was still “out on the town.” However, the men in the boiler room, the cook, the second in command, and a few others including David were at their stations. When the sound of revving planes and whistling bombs punctuated the morning tranquility, General Quarters was sounded. The second in command screamed, “Man the Guns”! David screamed back: “What guns”! Someone found the keys, unlocked the magazine, and after some fumbling a 3"/50 cal. A.A. gun and three .30 cal. machine guns were manned and returning fire.

Then as several enemy planes strafed the deck, David remembered one flying low and amidships. Then a torpedo and its contrail as it converged on the Oglala. It would soon be over! The Oglala lifted out of the water, but he was still alive! The submerged munition had gone under the Oglala and struck the Helena on the other side.

They continued firing, reporting some “definite hits.” However, the Oglala’s hull had ruptured and was flooding rapidly. For an hour and a half the meager crew was uninterrupted in returning fire as the Oglala continued to list to her port side. 5°, 10°, 15°, 20°. Then as the commanding officer finally returned, the Oglala listed to its side, and those who could swam away.

Back on a farm in Missouri, a family had but one thought: “Was he alive.” The phone was never unattended. A speaker in the kitchen was connected remotely to the wireless in the library. And as hours turned to days, a mother listened and waited. And during the days before Christmas, sleep was haunted by the thought of “tapping” sailors trapped in the hulls of sunken ships….

“In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way” ” (Franklin Delano Roosevelt, as quoted in None Dare Call It Conspiracy, Gary Allen & Larry Abraham, 1971).

“They hit us harder than we expected” (Eleanor Roosevelt, as quoted in Harry Elmer Barnes (editor), Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: A Critical Examination of the Foreign Policy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Its Aftermath, 1953).

"Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy...." (Franklin Delano Roosevelt before Congress seeking a declaration of war against Japan, December 8, 1941)

Sunday, April 8, 2007

The Rats Will Run for Cover!

It was so familiar hearing J. Vernon McGee reminisce about growing up on a small southern farm. Of rising early, lighting a lantern, and walking to the barn to tend the animals. He described opening the door and how the light shown in the darkness. And how the birds in the rafters would begin to sing and how the rats over in the corner would run for cover.

This suggests a parable our Lord once told, a parable of wheat and tares, and how the “children of the kingdom” and the “children of the wicked one” were to “grow together until the harvest.” For us this presents a problem, for wheat and tares are indistinguishable for a time. So how are we to know?

The answer is surprisingly simple: show forth the light of His Word and the birds will begin to sing and the rats will run for cover!

A Hostile Takeover

Hostile Takeover: a generally reviled tactic in the business world of taking control of a company for personal advantage and divesting its assets without regard for that companies management, board of directors, shareholders, or workers.

Unfortunately, the Hostile Takeover has a counterpart in the evangelical world. Consider how Rick Warren has disenfranchised those who have labored a lifetime in their local assemblies:

Be willing to let people leave the church. And I told you earlier the fact that people are gonna leave the church no matter what you do. But when you define the vision, you're choosing who leaves. You say, "But Rick, yes, they're the pillars of the church." Now, you know what pillars are. Pillars are people who hold things up ... And in your church, you may have to have some blessed subtractions before you have any real additions.

Rick, through his books, conferences, and simulcasts, has encouraged churches around the world to trash the gospel "once delivered" for his "new improved version" or as he calls it “vision.” And for those of us who oppose this gospel alien to His Word, he has a solution: make the place where we once worshipped our risen Lord so abominable that the Spirit within us will demand we leave.

A Rick Warren Takeover: what used to be a reviled tactic in the evangelical world of taking control of a local assembly for personal advantage and divesting its assets without regard for that church’s Lord, board of elders, shareholders in His Holiness, or fellow workers in the Truth.

Why does the world recognizes a “hostile takeover” when they see it, but so many in the church do not?

“…for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light” (Luke 16:8).

Sunday, March 18, 2007

“Calvinism 101”

The natural, ordinary, commonsense meaning of words is not sufficient for sustaining the doctrines of Calvinism. Words of key verses must be defined in partisan fashion or the doctrine crumbles. In the following verses (allegedly purporting the tenet of Limited Atonement), Calvinism defines the word ‘many’ to mean the elect only. However, in the immediate or even broader context of Scripture, Calvinism is taking an unjustified liberty:

Isaiah 53:12 “… and he bare the sin of many….”
Matthew 20:28: “… the Son of man came… to give his life a ransom for many.”
Matthew 26:28: “…For this is my blood… which is shed for many….”
Hebrews 9:28: “… Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many…”

By defining many to mean the elect only, Calvinism offers a classic example of eisegesis (forcing the text to fit a preconceived system of theology).

Calvinists affirm: “Christ died for the elect only.” However, this has no biblical basis! Scripture consistently asserts the contrary, and unlike the Calvinist rendition, states it EXPLICITLY: He died NOT for ours sins only, “but also for the sins of the whole world.” And there are many other explicit verses:

Isaiah 53:6: “… and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
John 1:29: “… Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
1 Timothy 2:6: “Who gave himself a ransom for all....”
1 Timothy 4:10: “… we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all….”
Hebrews 2:9: “…that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”
1 John 4:14: “… the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.”?
1 John 2:2: “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

Calvinism 101:
If the word is 'many,' then the meaning is few;
If the word is 'whosoever,' then it must mean only the elect;
If the word is 'world,' then it can’t mean everyone;
And if the word is 'all', then 'all' doesn't mean all at all!

During his Grand Jury testimony, regarding the Lewinsky affair, President Bill Clinton, attempting to reconcile the irreconcilable, reasoned: "… It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is.” However, as children of light, we must be gravely aware of the consequence of twisting Scripture as the “… unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16).

Calvin in his later years appeared to suffer that malady so common to Calvinists: doubts concerning salvation. And for good reason: Calvinism teaches a salvation not based on belief or confession or repentance or faith or calling on the Lord, but rather “the luck of the draw.” So how is one to know if he was one of the elect? Calvinist R. T. Kendall writes: “nearly all of the Puritan ‘divines’ went through great doubt and despair on their deathbeds as they realized their lives did not give perfect evidence that they were elect.” Works are a Calvinist’s only assurance of personal salvation.
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will Iprofess unto them I never knew you… (Matthew 7:21-23).

But whosoever believes that 'whosoever' means whosoever is at peace; perfect love casteth out fear.
John 3:15: “… whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
Acts 10:43: “… whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”
Romans 10:13: “… whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Calvin in his later years appears to have relinquished his doctrine of Limited Atonement: “And He said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many” (Mark 14:24). Although Calvinists, contest that 'many' refers to the elect, John Calvin in contrary commentary affirms:

… by the word 'many' he means not a part of the world only, BUT THE WHOLE HUMAN RACE… (John Calvin, Rev. William Pringle, English Translation, Harmony of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Vol. 3, emphasis added).

And Calvin's "LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT, April 25, 1564" affirms that the Sovereign Redeemer’s blood was shed for the entire human race:

… that I suppliantly beg of Him, that He may be pleased so to wash and purify me in the blood which my Sovereign Redeemer has shed for THE SINS OF THE HUMAN RACE… (John Calvin, as cited in: Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church, Volume VIII: Modern Christianity, The Swiss Reformation; emphasis added).

Monday, February 19, 2007

Mel’s “Passion”


Do you remember the movie you brought home last Christmas, the one that you correctly assured me was not rated “R” the one that we watched for a minute or so and found so offensive we took it quickly back to the store? That was my introduction to Mel Gibson. Well today, Mel’s new movie is out. But this one is different; it’s perverse, but in a different way.

And something else is different. The “Christian” leaders of the world have gone mad with praise for Mel and his “passion.” Panic stricken pastors are trashing church budgets to rent theaters and charter buses and purchase “R” rated tickets so their flocks can attend. Attempting to energize members, now bored with Promise Keepers, to the next new high, they seem to have forgotten that there is but ONE gospel, and it is NOT from Hollywood!

Your father

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:6-9).

Friday, February 16, 2007

Pied Piper of Purpose


You recently asked what was happening with us. I told you of His blessing, but not the rest.

A number of months ago a church, historically stalwart in the faith, we were visiting, suddenly mandated that Sunday classes were to be suspended for approximately forty days. During that time everyone was to participate in the study of a popular “purpose driven” paperback. Rather than gathering together to study the Word, that we might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, our challenge was to affirm a book by a mere man.

A few months ago another church, historically stalwart in the faith, we were visiting, suddenly mandated that Sunday classes were to be suspended for approximately forty days. During that time everyone was to participate in the study of a popular “purpose driven” paperback. Rather than learning together from the Word, That we might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God, our challenge was to affirm a book by a mere man and a rather... one at that.

These churches, each having heard the sirens’ call, marched in lockstep with a thousand other churches as the self proclaimed Pied Piper of Purpose lead them to a tranquil oblivion. “Purposefully” doing the “spiritually correct” thing each opted for an unholy aberration of His Word and the inevitable accompaniment: spiritual confusion. They failed to discern between two mutually exclusive ways of “doing church” His Way or man’s. And they are not alone. The pastor of Saddleback, Inc. has convinced multitudes that his “way” is more contemporary, more savvy, more pragmatic, more loving, and of course, more popular than the other Way. The author of “purpose” has persuaded many that he has discovered mysteries that even the Author and Finisher of our faith neglected to reveal. These two churches have apparently forgotten Judges, the book of spiritual confusion that sadly concludes: “every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

Tell me pastor, what is your church doing this fall…

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Popular Apostasy

Photo courtesy of the Franklin Collection.

I took my father for a drive one evening not too long ago. Over old country roads that were once so familiar. Latent memories brightened his face at every turn: “I used to plow that field for Jake, or plant that one for Dave, or combine that for Marlon.” Returning from the war, he and his often envied Oliver 70, purchased for two hundred dollars and two mules, not only tended his land but that of a multitude of others, land he knew as intimately as his own.

Suddenly, pointing toward the fading sun, he became disturbed: “There used to be a church there and a graveyard.” But I saw nothing but the silhouette of a fencerow entwined with reeds and vines. Yes, there had been a church, and perhaps as many as a dozen other one room sanctuaries scattered along that dusty meandering road, but like this one, little or nothing now remains. The voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride are now forever silent.

These forgotten churches of fair meadows and vale are so unlike those of today: No satellite receiver affixed to a steeple. No sermons to “spiritually” download or hymns with copyright code. No worship bands to rival a night club or bar. Or messages patterned after some Hollywood movie or star. No popular book studies other then the King James. No “Lights, Action, Camera” directing performers to take the stage. And sometimes not even a pastor. But they continued steadfastly in the apostles teaching and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers in a time when apostasy could travel little faster than an occasional circuit rider, in a time when Satan could deceive but one church at a time.