23 April 2007

Blargument, Third and Final Round

Anonymous is not pleased.

You can read the comment at the end of my last post. This is the last post I will make regarding this topic. Rather than commenting on the content of Anonymous' comments, I simply want to comment on the importance of presuppositions, those assumptions about the world we all bring to our understanding of anything, especially the Bible and theology. Presuppositions are difficult to avoid, and sometimes they are not bad. They are bad if they do not allow a person to view a subject any other way than thier presuppositions allow.

Anonymous belongs to a church that believes (I hope I'm being accurate here) that there is only one God, Jesus. There is no Father and no Holy Spirit, at least not as separate persons of the Godhead. They are all manifestations of Jesus. All of the Old Testament names for God are names for Jesus. The OT says there is one God, one Lord. The NT says Jesus is God. Therefore, they claim, every Scripture that mentions "God" refers to Jesus and Jesus alone. These are their presuppositions. They will claim that they are inferences or direct teachings straight from Scripture, not the teachings of men.

The problem is, that's what everyone says about their beliefs.

I claim that God is one God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each of whom is rightly called God, but none of whom fully expresses God. They are eternally coequal, coexistent, and are the perfect expression of fellowship, community, and truth. I, too, do not base these assertions on traditions, but on Scripture. Hence, the problem between Anonymous and me: our presuppositions are contradictory, yet we both base them on Scripture.

The problem deepens: if we both accept the law of noncontradiction (that something cannot be and not be at the same time in the same way), then one of us is wrong. Anonymous will say that I am wrong, and I say that Anonymous is wrong. I believe Anonymous' presuppositions are faulty and not based on Scripture but on a creative interpretation of Scripture that is not warranted by the text itself. So many verses mention the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as separate, yet all are called God, and there is only one God. This is somewhat paradoxical, and many have labored to describe it. Welcome to orthodoxy.

Anonymous and I have too many disagreeing presuppositions ever to come to agreement. The end of it, though, being as this is my blog and if you don't like it, start your own blog, is this: I'm right, my understanding is more orthodox and historical than yours, and you are not honestly dealing with the wealth of (especially NT) texts that explicitly list (sometimes in the same verse!) all three persons.

That's my blog, and I'm sticking to it.:)

22 April 2007

Blargument, Round 2

It seems I struck a nerve with Anonymous, who replied to "Should have seen this coming...":

I think it was very petty of you to pick on my grammer. Did it make you feel more intelligent? Was your sarcasm about my bravery meant to be funny? Do you believe that the Bible does not contradict itself? If so you have to consider all the verses from old and new testaments, that refer to Jehovah and Jesus. What about Colossians 2:9 "The fullness of the Godhead is ALL IN HIM" Jesus. Jesus was fully God and Fully man. Jesus is revealed name of God prophesied about in the Old Testament. Father is not a name. Son is not a name. Holy Spirit is not a name. Jesus is the only name in heaven where by we must be saved. To view a visual that puts the scriptures into prospective visit http://www.lighthouseapostolic.com/onegodxl.bmp . God Bless you! [name removed by AG] P.S. The only reason I was identified as anonymous is that I do not have a google/blogger account.

Anonymous, you are right to be anonymous; I shouldn't have questioned your bravery. Having
said that...

In reply, let me start by saying I'm sorry you have bad grammAr. It did not make me feel more intelligent; it disappointed me. Our country is one where the education standards are mixed, and priority is certainly not given to grammar. When I see bad grammar, I fix it. By submitting a comment, you submit it to criticism, just like when I post a blog, I submit it to the public to read or criticize.

I do believe the Bible does not contradict itself. On Colossians 2:9, it is better translated as "because in him dwells all the fullness of the deity bodily. . .", at least that is a more literal translation of the Greek. Jesus is not the revealed name of God; Yahweh is (Ex. 3:14), or "I AM WHO I AM" if you prefer ("Joshua" is A name of God, just like "Jehovah-Jireh" and many others, and we both agree that they all describe the one God). And if "Father" and "Holy Spirit" are not names, how do you explain Matthew 28:19? And you did not answer my questions from my last reply.

Also, I have a couple of questions regarding your monotheism:
  1. When Jesus was on earth, was Heaven empty?
  2. When Jesus is with us now (as you state on your website) and not the Holy Spirit (as a separate person of the one God), then who is in Heaven now?
  3. Did Jesus ascend and then descend?
  4. When Jesus breathed on his disciples and said, "receive the Holy Spirit," why was Jesus still there, if they are indeed the same person?
  5. When Jesus was on the cross, did he pray "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" to himself? If not, then to whom?
  6. Who, according to Ephesians 1:17-23, raised Jesus from the dead?
  7. To whom did Jesus pray in John 17?
  8. In John 17:11, why did Jesus say, "that they may be one, even as WE are"? (PS. the "we" is in the Greek).
  9. If Jesus and the Father are the same, then why did Peter say that God performed miracles through Jesus (Acts 2:22)?
  10. If the three are in fact Jesus only, then how do you explain verses like Acts 2:33; Acts 10:38 (God anointed him [Jesus] with the Holy Spirit); and many others I need not name here?

Many more questions can be asked at this point; many verses could be brought up as well. I just don't see how you can claim that there is no Holy Spirit or Father as distinct from the Son. Colossians proves Jesus is God; it does not prove that Jesus is the Father and the Holy Spirit.

I may have taken a sarcastic tone which comes off as being irritated. You're right; I should not be personally offensive; if I insulted you as a person, I ask for your forgiveness. However, your ideas are another matter. I am irritated at your teaching, which goes against centuries of established orthodoxy, an orthodoxy which extends all the way back to the writing of the New Testament itself. You may certainly reply again, but I can tell you that this is probably going to be a vigorous debate. And being as this is a blog and not a forum, I can choose when the discussion ends. I am happy to continue hearing your side, but I guarantee that I will remain unmoved. I stand with the New Testament, not a church founded in 1952.


21 April 2007

Should have seen this coming...

My first blargument! Sweet.

Someone (bravely calling him/herself Anonymous) had this to say about "Christian Songs That Annoy Me (Part 1)":

Mark is absolutely, correct, the bible calls Jesus the everlasting Father. Jesus is God manifested in the flesh. or in other words Jesus is the father manifested in the flesh. The fullness(all) of the God Head is all in Him(Jesus). Jesus is not in the God head, the God head is all in Him. This is all verified in the bible, if you need me to provide you with the scripture I will be glad to.
April 20, 2007 6:27 PM

May I mention a few things:
  1. Grammar: poor grammar, though technically not taking away from the content of your argument, does make you sound a little, well, uneducated. "bible" should be capitalized. There should not be a comma between "absolutely" and "correct." After "correct" a new sentence should begin. The "or in other words . . . ." is a fragment (and the first word is not capitalized). You need a space between a word and parentheses. "scripture" in the last sentence should be plural (unless you have only one verse to offer).
  2. Your reference to Isaiah 9:6 ("For to us a child is born . . . . And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" does not prove that Jesus is the Father incarnate. Isaiah 22:20-21 and Job 29:16 are examples of "father" used in a figurative way. If Jesus is the Father, why does he make dozens of statements that clearly show that the Father is someone else (Matt. 11:26; 18:35; 26:39-42, 53; 28:18-20; Mark 14:36; Luke 23:34; John 3:35; 5:17; 6:57; 8:54; 11:41; 14:28 et. al.)? To whom was Jesus talking on the cross? To whom did he pray?
  3. "Jesus is God manifested in the flesh" is NOT the same as "Jesus is the Father manifested in the flesh." You're saying it this way: Jesus is God. The Father is God. Therefore, Jesus is the Father. That's like saying the following: My cat is a mammal. My dog is a mammal. Therefore, my cat is my dog. This is the fallacy of the undistributed middle term.

I need not say more. Provide your Scriptures if you want to; you cannot deny that Jesus (and Paul and everyone else who wrote the NT) separted the Father, Son and Spirit.

19 April 2007

My All-time least favorite choruses, chosen for various reasons:

- Stupid or shallow lyrics

Mercy is Falling ("Hey-O and I receive your mercy...and I will dance forevermore" - I think I just threw up a little in my mouth - "La la la la la la la la la la. La la la la la la la - la la" - yeah, I just puked big time.)

The Happy Song

- Forced awkwardness for the less jumpy among us (you know, those of us who wouldn't raise our hands even if we were being mugged). In other words, the "please don't make me jump, dance, raise my hands, or otherwise move" songs.

Your Everlasting Love ("Oh the wonder of your everlasting love is higher than the WOO-WOO-WOO, W-W-W-WOO" while jumping side to side. Thanks, Jeff Moody)

Father Abraham (OK, it's a youth group song, but I still hated it; it reminded me of a Christian Hokey-Pokey - "Father Abraham...and that's what it's all about!")

Romans 16:19 (did anyone else hate doing the 180-degree jump after "underneath your feet"? I always just looked at the group now facing me until they turned around, thinking, "hurry up and get this song over with!" Even worse was the "rap" of the chorus.)

I'm Trading My Sorrows (this may only be familiar to you OCC folks. Right hand up in the air, now sing: "yes, Lord! Yes, Lord! Yes, Yes, Lord!")

We Will Dance ("Lift up your hands and clap out of sync. . . ." until the chorus, when everyone gives up) Did anyone else think this would have been a good bar song? Imagine sitting fifteen people across, arms around each other and beers swaying back and forth to "and WE will DANCE on the STREETS that are GOLDEN...."

These songs are why I never went to Jr. High Get-a-Way
(why is "get-a-way" hyphenated, anyway?)
- Oversung into oblivion
One Name Under Heaven Whereby We Must Be Saved
Better is One Day
How Great is Our God (unfortunate; this was at one time my favorite praise song)
I Can Only Imagine (unfortunate; this was at one time my favorite song)

Tell me some of yours!

Christian Songs that Annoy Me (Part 2)

Today, I present another song that just annoys me: Todd Agnew's "My Jesus":

Which Jesus do you follow? Which Jesus do you serve?
If Ephesians says to imitate Christ, why do you look so much like the
[A little presumptuous, don't you think?]

'Cause my Jesus bled and died; he spent his time with thieves and
He loved the poor and accosted the arrogant, so which one do you want to
[IOW, my Jesus can beat up your Jesus! Are "poor" and "arrogant" the only two choices here?]

[Furthermore, are you saying that you want to bleed and die for your sins? You can't be "like Jesus" in that way. The compassion, the social action, yes. The substitutionary atonement, resurrection, ascension, and high priestly intercession in heaven? No.]

Blessed are the poor in spirit, or do we pray to blessed with with the
wealth of this land?
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness
Or do we ache for another taste of this world of shifting sands

My Jesus bled and died for my sins; He spent His time with thieves and
sluts and liars.
He loved the poor and accosted the rich, So which one do you want to

[Again, are my only choices "poor" and "rich"? Or is he asking, "which one (thieves, sluts, or liars) do you want to be?"]

Who is this that You follow, This picture of the American dream?
If Jesus was here would you walk right by on the other side, Or fall down
and worship at His holy feet? holy

Pretty, blue eyes and curly brown hair and a clear complexion,-
is how you see Him as He dies for Your sins
But the Word says He was battered and scarred - or did you miss that
Sometimes I doubt we'd recognize Him
[I actually like this part - the Jesus portrait in every small church in America makes him look like a gentle hippie from California, not a 1st-Century Jew]

My Jesus bled and died He spent His time with thieves and the least of
He loved the poor and accosted the comfortable, So which one do you want to

'Cause My Jesus would never be accepted in my church!
The blood and dirt on His feet might stain the carpet
[Hold it right there, Todd. If someone walked into a church dirty and bloody, I'd probably want to get him to a hospital, not the front pew! Also, MY Jesus is RISEN - he bleeds no more!]

[I know, I know - the point is that people sometimes care more about the carpet than reaching the lost etc., which is valid. But to suggest that making any decisions about facilities is a direct affront to Jesus is a stretch.]

But He reaches for the hurting and despises the proud
And,I think He'd prefer Beale St. to the stained glass crowd
[Perhaps, but is stained glass therefore sinful? Come on...]

And I know that He can hear me if I cry out loud
I want to be like my Jesus! I want to be like my Jesus I want to be like my
Not a posterchild for American prosperity, but like my Jesus
You see I'm tired of living for success and popularity [then you might want to reconsider making a living standing in front of crowds, singing, and selling albums with your pictures plastered all over them.]
I want to be like my Jesus but I'm not sure what that means to be like You,
Cause You said to live like You, love like You but then You died for
Can I be like You Jesus? I wanna be like you Jesus I wanna be Like my

Is it me, or is Todd a little arrogant himself here? The whole sarcasm in the middle works against the message of the song, not to mention the fact that this message comes in a form of a song that can be purchased (in two different versions!) on iTunes.

I do appreciate the attempt: the guy feels that the American church is lukewarm and has lost sight of the reason we are here, and to a certain extent, he's right. But if I went to his church, where Jesus would never be accepted, I think I'd be looking for a new church.

But there are so many little things in this song that bug me, like the "stained-glass crowd" comment, as if everyone who worships in a church with stained glass can not possibly be doing anything outside of their church. Maybe that's not what he's saying; but it comes across this way: either you are a social activist Christian or you worship a false Christ.

So much for grace. . . .

18 April 2007

Christian Songs that Annoy Me (Part 1)

Today, I would like to draw your attention to Mr. Mark Schultz, who is otherwise a very talented singer/songwriter. It's just when he's singing heresy that I bristle. Whatever do I mean? I give you "I Am":

I am the maker of the Heavens/I am the bright and morning star

I am the breath of all Creation/Who always was And is to come

I am the One who walked on water/I am the One who calmed the seas

I am the miracles and wonders/So come and see And follow me

You will know

Chorus:I am the fount of living water/The risen Son of man/The healer of the broken/And when you cry I am your savior and redeemer/Who bore the sins of man/The author and perfecter/Beginning and the end/I am

[So far, so good, except that part about "I am the miracles and wonders," but I'm willing to let that go for now.]

I am the spirit deep inside you/I am the word upon your heart [which is what exactly?]

I am the One who even knew you/Before your birth Before you were


Before the Earth (I am)

The universe (I am) [Ahh, Mark, you sound dangerously pantheistic here! I am the universe? Yes, folks, Jesus is the universe - the stars, planets, nebulae - when you see a star blow up, that's Jesus. When a black hole swallows a neutron star, that, my friend, is Jesus. Uhh, what?]

In every heart (I am)

Oh, where you are (I am)

The Lord of love (I am)/The King of Kings (I am)/The Holy lamb (I am)/Above all things

Chorus:Yes, I am almighty God your father/The risen son of man/The healer of the broken. . . . [So is Jesus not separate from the Father? Be careful, Mark; not only are you sounding pantheistic, you are also just about to go all Sabellianistic on us! Ouch - a twofer!]

I'm not saying that Mark Schultz is a heretic. I am saying that CCM artists need to be careful with their words. You can't just say anything that sounds worshipful. Doctrine matters, my friends. If you don't think so, then ask yourself: why did the Heaven's Gate cult commit suicide? Or, why does Kenneth Copeland think Jesus was the first person to be born again?

Ladies and gentlemen, let us listen to the words of our songs! Are there no boundaries as to what lyrics Christian songs may have? What makes Christian music Christian is the words! That's all we've got to distinguish us from mediocre soft rock and country!

Stay tuned for more Christian songs that annoy me. Your suggested songs are welcome.

What do we really want when bad things happen?

When bad things happen, what is it that we really want? We ask God "why?" and get angry when there's no audible answer. What I would like to know is: would it help if you knew exactly why this or that happened? It wouldn't change the past, and it might involve information you'd rather not know (for example, what if the answer to "why did God let my baby die?" were "because he would have grown up to be a mass murderer" for one family and "because I just decided to take him from the earth" for another?).

As is the case in every situation in life, Scripture is helpful here. I'm thinking of Philippians 4:5b-7: "The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." The word translated "transcends" is the same word in Phil. 2:3 as "better than" - "in humility consider others better than yourselves"; it is also translated "surpassing greatness" in Phil. 3:8. So we can render 4:7 as "the peace of God, which is better than understanding, . . ." or "the peace of God, which is surpassingly greater than understanding. . . ."

What's the point of all this? I submit that it is far better to have God's peace and presence than his answers. In times of trouble, I may ask God "why?", but what I'm really saying is "I need your peace and your presence." In other words, when we hurt, we want our Father to hold us, not lecture us.

It is better by far to have the presence of peace than the presence of answers.

09 April 2007

Do you say, "That's so gay"?

Check out this story, then read on.

I would like to know why the kids who asked the Mormon, "do you have 10 moms" were not in trouble. Apparently you can make fun of a person's religion, but not their sexual orientation. Not that I'm saying, "If you allow one, you should allow the other." To the contrary, I am saying, "If you ban one, you should ban the other."

That being said, I have always hated the use of "gay" as a synonym for "stupid" or "boring" or "ridiculous" or whatever other use it has in modern culture. People my age say it, too, which seems 1) weird, and 2) immature.

For all you Christians out there who say "That's so gay", let me ask: are you offended/bothered when someone, out of anger, says, "Jesus Christ!" ? If you are, then that's probably how a homosexual feels when they overhear you saying "that's so gay."

I think this goes deeper than saying something's "gay." It goes to all Christians who think that cussing is acceptable (not the f-word, but just about everything else, especially when they're "just quoting" someone).

I will confess: I have joked once or twice about a donkey I saw in the street in India (it's not just cows there that roam the streets, but dogs, goats, donkeys etc.). Speaking to Heidi, I pointed to it and said, "get your a** off the road!" But even then, that was actually a correct use of an archaic word for donkey.

All right, then.... Here's my top reasons why swearing (and by that I mean cussing/using profanity, including saying something/someone is "gay" in the sense of "stupid") is unnecessary for anyone, especially the Christian:

1. Swearing is for people who cannot adequately express themselves.
2. Swearing limits one's vocabulary.
3. Swearing is a sign of disregard for the English language.
4. Swearing is immature and a sign of weakness.
5. Swearing cheapens the thought process; cuss words are a copout from having to think about what you want to say and how you want to say it.
6. Swearing is inappropriate around children.
7. Swearing in public is disrespectful to others and intolerant.
8. Swearing neither wins the respect of your peers nor impresses your elders.
9. (For Christians) Swearing is unscriptural.
Matthew 12:36-37 – But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.
Ephesians 4:29 – Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Colossians 4:6 – let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
(For Christians) Swearing is, at best, a confusing witness to the watching world, and at worst is a turnoff to the Christian faith ("why be like them if they don't seem that different from me [except on Sundays]?")

There; I feel better.

Let me ask you, then, beloved reader: what do you think?