December 31, 2004

2004 on the Crusty Curmudgeon: a retrospective

It seems only fitting, in the last few hours of the year, to look back at my first full calendar year of blogging, and post a few reflections about the experience.

Best posts: I submitted my five favourites by request of The Corner and won't repeat the list again tonight. If I had to choose my favourite of these five, I think it would be God's "perfect will" and Romans 12, which best represents what I strive for in a theological post.

My best idea: The September moratorium on science fiction broadened my horizons a bit, and even though I didn't get through my entire planned reading list, I read some stuff I wouldn't have bothered with otherwise. Strictly speaking this was a personal reading idea, not a blogging idea, but the reason I decided do it in the first place was that I was tracking my reading habits on the blog and wouldn't have noticed otherwise. One thing blogging has done for me over the last year is help me to organize my thinking, somewhat.

From the another-flagstone-on-the-road-to-hell dept.: My best-intentioned idea that went nowhere was "Required Reading Month" in November. As it happened, the books on my list were perpetually checked out of the local library system and never available, with a single exception that wasn't the one I wanted to start with. So I never actually got around to reading any of them.

Books read: Since I started keeping track at the beginning of June, I've read 44 books. My habits didn't change just because I started charting them, so it's a safe estimate that I completed about 75 books since January. My favourite of the lot was The Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

I wrote 13 reviews, in varying lengths, of books this year.

Movies viewed: Again, since June, I have viewed 27 films, either at home or in the theatre. My favourite for the year was also the best movie from this year: The Village, M. Night Shyamalan's most recent.

Of those 27, I reviewed eight.

Out and around the blogosphere: Finally, so as not to toot my own horn endlessly, my favourite blog that I discovered for the first time in the last year is La Shawn Barber's Corner. Alphabetical order put her at the top of my blogroll, but over the last few months I've really begun to appreciate her insights, especially in those areas where our interests appear to cross.

My favourite "re-branding" effort is the one at Not that the old version was bad, but the new design is truly spectacular. Also, affirming the dictum that simplest is best, the new look at Coffeehouse at the End-Of-Days is very nice as well.

"Most improved blog" goes, without question, to James White, who finally ditched hand-coded HTML and all its attendant inconsistencies for actual blog software and a PHP backend. (And the content is top-shelf, with or without all the technical wizbangery.)

Summing up: I spent the last quarter of 2003 banging the Crusty Curmudgeon into shape and feeling out this blogging thing. In 2004, it actually became what I wanted it to be. If anything it has exceeded my expectations, as I suspect this blog has superseded my original Web site as the front end of my presence on the WWW. Finally, I close the year as the fifth most relevant site on Google for the search term "crusty." (I actually peaked at #2 just before Christmas!) I haven't lost interest in the blog yet, so on the whole it's been a very good year. Best of all, I'll be able to hit the ground running in 2005. My first post of the new year will detail some of my plans.

R.I.P. Artie Shaw

I'm listening to Frank Sinatra and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra perform "Stardust" as I write. Shaw, who lived to the ripe old age of 94 before dying yesterday, didn't write this song, though it was one of his signature tunes.

Shaw was a compulsive perfectionist: he quit playing clarinet in the 1950s because he just wasn't good enough to satisfy himself. Nor, apparently, did his first seven wives - who included gorgeous Ava Gardner and the lovely and talented Lana Turner - before he found true love with Evelyn Keyes for nearly 50 years.

Darn good music though.

It's Friday

And Friday is the day I've chosen to highlight other blogs who have posted something noteworthy in the past week. I've been on a sort of hiatus from meta-blogging for about the last month. Frankly, the extended reading and writing required to give a fair shake to the various Carnivals and so forth can get wearying, so I took a break from it for the most of December. Not that I had any obligation, but having done so regularly sets an expected trend, I'm sure. Anyway, in the new year I hope to get back into the swing of things in that respect. Here's a start, sort of.

Over at, Tim takes Brian D. McLaren to task for his Orwellian redefinition of Calvinism. McLaren defines himself as a "Fundamentalist/Calvinist," but his self-identification is belied by his abandonment of traditional Reformed theology and a remaking of the Five Points (i.e. the so-called TULIP) into something apparently more palatable to the new kind of Christian. Tim's conclusion:

Brian McLaren has rewritten the doctrines of grace, the doctrines that summarize what the Scripture teaches about redemption; about how sinful men can be reconciled to a holy God. He has taken these doctrines, which in part and in totality focus exclusively on the works of God in, to and through us, and has rewritten them in terms of what we can offer God and each other. He has given them a man-focus rather than a God-focus. Further, and this is consistent with a theology of redemption and justification drawn more from N.T. Wright and the New Perspective on Paul than from the Bible, he removes the emphasis from reconciliation, substitution and judgment to mere human acts.

[Read Brian McLaren's TULIP]

I haven't gotten on either the "Emergent Church" bandwagon, nor the "bash the Emergent Church" bandwagon - both seem fashionable these days - but I agree with Tim's assessment of McLaren. As my sidebar currently indicates, I've read both his "didactic novels," A New Kind of Christian and The Story We Find Ourselves In, recently. Both books are (pardon my French) pseudo-theological masturbation - self-satisfying, I'm sure, but plotless, ponderous, and ultimately pointless. McLaren likes to question things, but since he doesn't argue for any alternatives, he leaves readers like me cold.

Since I graduated from Waterloo, an Emergent church called The Embassy has started to meet regularly on UW campus. I noticed three things about their Web site that started the red flags waving almost immediately:

  • The focus of the front page is about how "different" they are from other churches. (Are they in competition?)
  • While formally associated with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, I could find neither a statement of affiliation nor of faith anywhere on the site. (Is The Embassy embarrassed by the PAOC or its doctrinal standards?)
  • The threads on the forums tend toward the same meandering, suborthodox wanking as McLaren's books. (If churchgoers do nothing but speculate about faddish pseudo-theology, is the church faithful in fulfilling its divine mandate to equip the saints?)

In short, the Emergent emperor has no clothes. I'll have little to say about it henceforth, since I don't see the point in broadsiding every fad that comes along, but I'm glad others have taken up the cudgels.

Postscript: On a related note, for some reason I had flagged Tim's post "Campolo on the Emerging Church." I don't recall why - I think it was primarily because another Emergent leader, Dan Kimball, got personally involved in the comments - but the fact I had it flagged means I had intended to highlight it.

Post-postscript: Yesterday Tim also posted a detailed review of McLaren's newest book, A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I Am a Missional, Evangelical, Post/Protestant, Liberal/Conservative, Mystical/Poetic, Biblical, Charismatic/Contemplative, Fundamentalist/Calvinist, Anabaptist/Anglican, Methodist, Catholic, Green, Incarnational, Depressed-yet-Hopeful, Emergent, Unfinished CHRISTIAN. Frankly, the full title of the book (yes, that is real) tells you pretty much everything you need to know about this crap.

In other news

I've made an addition to my blogroll. Whenever I do a blog run on my larger list of favourites, I always anticipate reading Rebecca Writes, particularly when she's working through some meaty theological issue. Plus, she's Canadian, eh?

Post-post-postscript: From the I-blogrolled-her-before-she-was-cool department: La Shawn Barber has officially entered a higher plane of existence in which frothing lefties actually spend their free time creating hate sites about her. Congratulations!

December 30, 2004

Now I've heard everything

I've been listening to late-night shortwave radio since 1992, and I've heard every wacko in the phone book from Texe Marrs to "Brother Stair" to the überwacko himself, the late William Cooper his own self.

But it wasn't until this week that I actually heard a conspirinaut ranting at her audience in a little-girl voice.

In my current digs, shortwave reception isn't the best. On the other hand, reception in northern Ontario is superb, even on a cruddy radio. While scanning the dial a couple nights ago, I came across a program called "Divided Kingdom" on WWRB (5.085 MHz) at 11 pm EST, hosted by a woman named Elizabeth Border. I caught about the last 15 minutes of the show. She was - I kid you not - explaining chemtrails or Gulf War Syndrome or something in a series of different voices: a little girl, a deep, authoritarian "male" voice, and so forth. It was like a kid's show on acid, or something. I thought I was picking up a pirate broadcast, or a conversation on a cordless phone, it was so bad.

In other conspiracy news, I have a new candidate for the stupidest conspiracy theory ever. This week Derry Brownfield insinuated that the U. S. government was "smuggling" mountain lions into Idaho and other western states. Why? No reason given, except maybe to inconvenience people. Apparently when cougar populations go up, it's because of a gummint conspiracy (and not, say, more plentiful food supplies thanks to a decline in hunting).

One bright spot: on Sunday morning I heard Rod Hembree of Radio Weather on WWCR state that he didn't buy into the conspiracy-theory worldview. I do believe this is a first for a World Wide Conspiracy Radio broadcaster, at least in my earshot. There's a reason I'm not a total cynic.

Back from my holiday

What did I miss?

December 25, 2004

Christmas meditation

No comments tonight. Just two Bible passages to meditate on.

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD's hand double for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: and the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. (Isa. 40:1-5)

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. (Luke 2:8-20)

December 24, 2004

Christmas semi-hiatus

Due to travel - I'm blogging this from the Great White North of northern Ontario - blogging will be sparse until the new year, though hopefully not absent. Just the consequence of having to share the connection with four other people.

Later . . .

December 20, 2004

Carnival of the Reformation II

The second installment of the new Carnival of the Reformation is now up at Jollyblogger. The five-solas theme continues this time around with a discussion of solus Christus in honour of the Christmas season.

This is a smaller carnival than the more established and more general-interest Christian Carnival, so there are only about 10 or 11 entries as opposed to the 30-40 the other is getting these days. Still, judging by the descriptions, it looks like some solid meat.

My contribution was my post from a few days ago: The sufficiency of Christ. I had a hard time with the subject matter, which meant I was still writing into the wee small hours early this morning and posted a very rough draft (which bore little resemblance to the final product) just to meet the deadline. Perhaps I'm not alone in this, although I'm sure many contributors have had more experience than me writing theological exposition.

David had some kind words to say about this post and noted a percieved similarity between my methodology and that of Sinclair Ferguson, whom I have not read. Actually I got the idea from a lecture series by D. A. Carson that I attended a few years ago, as well as a book he recommended: The Unfolding Mystery, by Edmund P. Clowney (P&R, 1988). I recommend this book. It's a short, easy read, but full of meat. Clowney traces ten or a dozen themes through the Old Testament to the New, where they find their culmination in the person of Christ. This was actually the first time I had tried this approach in such depth myself - and anyone who caught the original draft of my post might have noticed it wasn't anything like that on Friday, either. It was originally a lot less cohesive, but I found that re-organizing the material, and then continuing the pattern with the third section, provided the "glue" that made the thesis work. God willing I'll be doing something similar for a related post that I want to submit to an upcoming Christian Carnival, as I did in October with a second sola Scriptura post.

Anyway, it looks like a good selection on a worthy subject. Check it out.

And now . . . this

No surprise this first story comes from Idaho, that haven for militia nuts, gun nuts, and other mixed nuts:

A man has been charged with involuntary manslaughter for fatally shooting his friend through a protective vest on an apparent dare, police said.

Alexander Joseph Swandic, 20, died of a gunshot wound to the heart Monday after donning a protective vest and asking David John Hueth, 30, to shoot him, police said.

[Full Story]

Yeah. Evolution. Whatever. I'll buy the natural selection part.

. . . and this

Meanwhile, in Indiana:

Some Indiana University students could face a hefty fine for tossing a guinea pig from an eighth-floor dormitory with a makeshift parachute.

The students used a garbage bag, dental floss and masking tape to create a parachute and then dropped the animal from their dorm window, Bloomington Animal Shelter manager Leigh Ann Hoffacker said. . . .

"Whoever did this did it in broad daylight," Hoffacker said. "They just didn't care, and I think it is quite disturbing."

[Full Story[

So what's the complaint? They gave the guinea pig a parachute, didn't they?

Perpetuating yet another meme

I've actually been fiddling around with HeroMachine for a few months now, but recently I've seen a bunch of other bloggers trotting out their own personal superheroes.

Well, who am I not to jump on a perfectly good bandwagon? Especially one I was on already before it became fashionable. Like Thai food, or chipotles. Anyway . . .

It's . . .

Excellent Man!

Excellent Man patrols the Crusty Curmudgeon protecting it from hackers, spammers, and various other lamers. And look at the puppy!

December 19, 2004

Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na . . .

. . . Bat, man!

This morning in the lobby outside the lecture hall where my church holds its young adult Sunday school class, we were variously amused, terrified, and thrilled by the derring-do of a rather large (and probably confused) brown bat that somehow got into the building and started swooping around us.

Bats were ubiquitous in the paper mill back home one summer when I worked there, but I never got a real close look at one until today. So I was firmly entrenched in the "Whoa, cool!" camp. At least, until it got six inches in front of my face before veering off. That was freaky.

(And yes, I'm well aware that bats don't usually fly into people's faces. Stop laughing. It was a reflex.)

December 18, 2004

The sufficiency of Christ

The London Baptist Confession of 1689, with which I am in basic agreement as a personal statement of faith, has this to say about the person and work of Christ:

This office of mediator between God and man is proper only to Christ, who is the prophet, priest, and king of the church of God; and may not be either in whole, or any part thereof, transferred from him to any other.1

This is the LBC's expression of the Reformed doctrine of solus Christus (also sometimes referred to as solo Christo), or "Christ alone." In this post I want to discuss this doctrine from three perspectives: the atonement of Christ, the merits of Christ, and the mediatorship of Christ.

Solus Christus: Christ's atonement alone

Leviticus 16 spells out the regulations for the annual day of atonement, the day of the year in which the children of Israel collectively humbled themselves before God and confessed their sins. This was the one day all year where the high priest, robed in his priestly costume, brought the sacrifice into the most holy place and offered it in the very presence of God himself. The personal danger to the priest underscored the solemnity of the occasion: if he did not follow his instructions precisely, he might be struck dead.

On this occasion, two goats were selected from the herds of Israel. One of them was selected by lot to become the sin offering. It was slaughtered and its blood brought into the most holy place by the high priest, into the presence of God himself, as an offering for sin (Lev. 16:15-19).

The reality of sin is a crippling situation. Man cannot cleanse himself from sin (Prov. 20:9); his sin is part of his very nature (Jer. 13:23). Man can never be saved if he must depend on himself for salvation. Yet the perfect justice of a holy God requires that atonement be made for sin.

The animal sacrifices tell us something about the nature of atonement. While pure justice might demand that a man's own blood be shed as atonement for his sins, God by his grace allowed an animal to be substituted. The animal had to be unblemished, illustrating the an imperfect sacrifice was unacceptable. It had a cost, as it was taken from the sinner's own herds. And it had to shed its blood in death.

It was a fundamental truth of the sacrificial system that "without shedding of blood is no remission" (Heb. 9:22). But as the author of Hebrews reminds us, although the goats were offered year after year, it was impossible for their continuous deaths to remit sins perfectly. Hence, they were really only a reminder of sin (Heb. 10:1-3), and not a true atonement: "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins" (4).

But, the author adds,

[W]e are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. . . . this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (10-14)

What continual animal sacrifice could never begin to accomplish, Jesus Christ did once and for all. Impaled through the hands, feet, and side, he shed his blood on the cross when he died. The cost of his sacrifice was great: he cost the Father his only Son. Knowing no sin, Christ was a perfect and unblemished sacrifice.

Lastly, as a man and not an animal, he was a perfect substitute. For Christ's death on the cross was not merely an example or a demonstration of God's justice, as some claim (though it was those things and more). It was an actual, real substitute of one life for another.

The story is often told in evangelical circles about George Wilson, a robber who had been sentenced to death in 1830 for his crimes. Thanks to pleas from his friends, President Andrew Jackson pardoned him. Amazingly, Wilson refused the pardon, choosing to accept his sentence and be hanged. The Supreme Court ruled that the value of a pardon was contingent upon its acceptance. Thus Wilson had a right to refuse if he wanted to. By this story, well-meaning evangelists appeal to sinners: Christ has paid the sins for all mankind, and God has offered a pardon, if only you will accept it.

The problem with this kind of thinking, however well-intentioned, is that the analogy breaks down at the most fundamental level.

Christ's death expiated sins, that is, it removed the penalty for them. Christ died in place of sinners: "[T]he Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28). The word translated for in this verse is one that means in place of or instead of. Christ's death expiates our sin because he died in our stead.

But Christ's sacrifice was also propitiatory, which means it was satisfactory. There was something in it, independent of our own change of mind from unbelief to belief, that satisfied God's justice and turned away his wrath towards sinners. Paul writes:

[W]e all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) . . . (Eph. 2:3-5)

Formerly children of wrath and dead in sins, thanks to the mercy of God, his wrath is appeased by Christ.

And to the Romans, Paul says:

But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. (Rom. 3:21-26)

It was Jesus' obedience of his Father's will (his passive obedience in theological terminology), culminating in the crucifixion, that provides the objective basis upon which not only divine justice was satisfied, but divine mercy could be offered. His death was a propitiation. Those for whom Christ died are no longer the subjects of God's wrath.

Jackson's pardon of Wilson, by contrast, was a Presidential decree, nothing else. It made an offer of mercy without a satisfaction of justice; it was expiation without propitiation. It lacked the objective grounding of a substitutionary atonement.

Theologians such as C. H. Dodd claim that where the Bible says propitiation it really means expiation, saying that Christ's death cleansed sin but had no need to turn away wrath. This theory has had some popularity with theological liberals who find the idea of a vengeful God abhorrent. However, such a theory has a hard time reconciling itself with Romans 3:25-26 and other Biblical passages that speak of the wrath of God against sinners.

Some theories of the Atonement, such as the Moral Influence and Moral Government theories2, also affirm that forgiveness of sins is something God can do simply by decree, without any objective satisfaction. A Biblical, substitutionary view of the atonement agrees with the Moral Influence theory that Christ's death demonstrates God's love toward sinners. And it agrees with the Moral Government theory in that the crucifixion demonstrates the need for justice and the seriousness of sin. But both theories are wrong in what they deny: that the demands of divine justice must also be met. God is both just and justifier (Rom. 3:26).

In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis also denied the idea of a substitutionary atonement, affirming instead a theory that could be called "vicarious confession," in which Christ the "perfect penitent" confessed and repented of sin on our behalf. Lewis found the idea of penal substitution barbaric. I think he failed to see, however, that Christ's death occurred amidst a culture in which shedding blood for the atonement of sins was integral to their worldview. Also, although the Bible calls Christ's death an act of obedience, it never discusses it in terms of repentance and confession on the part of Christ himself.

More recently, "Emergent Church" leader Brian McLaren agrees with Lewis' assessment of penal substitution, having one of the characters in his didactic novel The Story We Find Ourselves In call penal substitution "divine child abuse."3 He provides thumbnail sketches of six theories of the Atonement (including a favourable view of Lewis' version). McLaren treats all the various theories as different "windows" giving different perspectives on the whole truth. Perhaps this is true as far as it goes; however, there is really nothing true about any competing theory that is not covered by the penal substitution theory.

Christ our Substitute alone pays the penalty for sins and makes forgiveness possible: "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Moses never died to provide salvation for sins. Neither did Mary, or Mohammed, or Buddha.

What continual animal sacrifice could never begin to accomplish, Jesus Christ did once and for all.

Solus Christus: Christ's merits alone

The second goat on the Day of Atonement was the "scapegoat." Today, when we call someone a scapegoat, it's not a good thing: it means he is taking the blame for someone else's problems. But it was certainly a good thing for the goat! It escaped a bloody death (hence "scapegoat"). Rather, the high priest laid his hands on its head and confessed the sins of the nation. The goat was then taken out of the camp and set free into the wilderness (Lev. 16:20-22).

Obviously, the goat itself was blameless. The sins of others were imputed, or transferred, to it, and then symbolically removed from the people by the goat's release.

Christ, too, was blameless, as Paul writes to the Corinthians:

Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Cor. 5:20-21)

Christ played the rôle not only of the sacrificial goat, but the scapegoat. Although he himself was blameless, he was "made sin for us" - or, as the prophet Isaiah prophesied, using the language of the day of atonement: "the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isa. 53:6).

Christ was the last righteous Israelite, the only one who obeyed God's Law perfectly - indeed, as the God-Man, the only one capable of so doing. It was his perfect obedience to the Law (his active obedience) that secured a righteousness - God's righteousness - that could be transferred to others. Our guilt was transferred, or imputed, to him, and his righteousness was imputed to us.

This truth is diametrically opposed to the teaching of the Church of Rome, which claims there is a "treasury" of merit comprising not only the merits of Christ, but "includes as well the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary" and "all the saints."4 In the Roman system, the merits of Christ are not sufficient; they must be supplemented with the superfluous merits of Mary and the saints. Rome also claims for itself the authority to dispense merit from the treasury for the remission of sins.5 This is the basis of the practice of indulgences, the crass commercialism of which goaded Luther into nailing his 95 theses to the church door. In addition, Rome's system of confessions and penances entails the efficiency of one's own merits to expiate some sins. Thus Christ, Mary, the saints, and oneself all cooperate to atone for sin. This is a categorical denial of the sufficiency of Christ.

It is Christ's merit alone that is imputed to us. No one else has ever lived a sinless life. Not Mary, not the saints, and most certainly not me.

Solus Christus: Christ's mediatorship alone

A mediator

intervene[s] between two parties in order to promote relations between them which the parties themselves are not able to effect. The situation requiring the offices of a mediator is often one of estrangement and alienation, and the mediator effects reconciliation.6

In the Old Covenant, the priest was the mediator between God and Israel, receiving the sacrifices from the people and presenting them to God. But he himself was in need of a mediator; before he could make atonement for the sins of his nation, it was necessary for him to make atonement for himself and the other priests with the sacrifice of a bull (Lev. 16:6). Moreover, the priests died and new priests had to replace them.

But, once again, the author of Hebrews says:

And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: but this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore. (Heb. 8:22-28)

Christ is that priest. He is the antitype not only of the goat who is killed for a sin offering, and the scapegoat that is left in the wilderness, but the priest who offers them.

Christ's priesthood is better than Aaron's, first because, unlike the Levites, he never sinned, and thus needs to make no atonement for himself. Jesus never makes confession or atonement; he says on the cross, "Father, forgive them," not "Father, forgive me." Thus he was able to mediate between men and God,

having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight. . . . (Col. 1:20-22)

Second, Christ's priesthood is better than Aaron's because, since he will never die, "his mediatory activity is never suspended."7 His intercessory work was not completed at Golgotha. He is a priest forever (Heb. 7:21, 24), interceding before the Father with the needs of his people.

I personally believe that the intercessory work of Christ is the strongest argument for particular redemption. Just as the priests of the Old Covenant interceded in the Temple for their people, the nation of Israel, Christ, the priest of the New Covenant intercedes before the throne of God for his people, the Church. It is inconceivable that the Father having elected someone, the Son would fail to atone for him; or that the Son having shed his blood for someone, would fail to intercede for him or that the Father would refuse to hear his intercession. Scripture ties Christ's atoning sacrifice and his priestly intercession together. They are co-extensive. Here is a practical example. Does the church freely offer the Lord's Supper to all and sundry, even committed unbelievers? Of course not. Jesus said of the cup of wine, "This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you" (Luke 22:20). The elements are reserved for partakers of the New Covenant - Christian believers - because they symbolize the blood shed and the body broken for Christ's people, the Church.

Scripture comes right out and says that Christ alone is the mediator between God and man: "[N]o man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). And what could be clearer than 1 Tim. 2:5-6? "[T]here is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus: who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." Yet again, however, men have invented attempts to interpose other mediators between God and men. Popular Catholic piety views Mary as a mediatrix as well. How does the Hail Mary go? "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death." Indeed Mary-as-intercessor is an official teaching of the Church of Rome: "We believe that the Holy Mother of God, the New Eve, Mother of the Church, continues in heaven to exercise her maternal role on behalf of the members of Christ."8 I once asked a Catholic online how they could reconcile this belief with 1 Tim. 2:5, and he said that Mary was not a mediator between God and man, but man and Christ. Counterargument: There is only one day left until Christmas, but that doesn't mean there aren't six more days between that one day and now. Both arguments are, of course, semantic tomfoolery. Again, the Roman church nullifies the Word of God for the sake of its traditions.


Another of the five solas, sola fide, is said to be the material principle of the Reformation. But solus Christus is the core truth of the Gospel. If Jesus Christ were unable to save perfectly and completely, he would not be someone we could put our faith in.

But he is a powerful Saviour who accomplished what no mortal man could ever achieve. He removed the guilt of sin from men who could not save themselves. He turned away the wrath of God from men who could only incur it. He is the perfect priest, giving his people access to God himself.


1 London Baptist Confession of Faith 8.xi.

2 Briefly, the Moral Influence theory of the atonement was developed by Peter Abelard in response to the theory of penal substitution of Anselm. Abelard argued that the purpose of the atonement was to demonstrate God's love for sinners, and so in part to soften their hearts toward God. The Moral Government theory, developed by Hugo Grotius and held by many Arminians, states that Christ's death demonstrates the necessity of divine justice and the seriousness of sin, again with the purpose of persuading men to repent and turn to obedience.

3 Brian D. McLaren, The Story We Find Ourselves In (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003) 102.

4 Catechism of the Catholic Church (New York: Image-Doubleday, 1995) 1477.

5 Catechism 1478.

6 J. Murray, "Mediator," International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 2 (London: Inter-Varsity; Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1980) 970-71.

7 Murray 972.

8 Catechism 975.

Works Cited

Catechism of the Catholic Church. New York: Image-Doubleday, 1995.

Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1998.

McLaren, Brian D. The Story We Find Ourselves In. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003.

Morris, L. L. "Atonement." International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. London: Inter-Varsity; Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1980. 147-50.

Murray, J. "Mediator." International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. London: Inter-Varsity; Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1980. 970-72.

"1689 LBC: Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator." The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith. June 1996. Truth for Eternity Ministries. 19 December 2004. <>.

December 15, 2004

2004's five crustiest posts

Via Bene Diction Blogs On, The Corner is inviting bloggers to compile and submit a list of their best five posts of the year.

This does seem like a good way to close off my first full calendar year, so here are my choices, in chronological order:

If you want to participate in this end-of-year round-up, the instructions are here.

A thing of beauty

The Times reports on the unveiling of the new Millau Viaduct, in France:

Taller than the Eiffel Tower and longer than the Champs Elysee, the Millau viaduct was today unveiled by President Jacques Chirac to acclaim as a marvel of art and architecture.

Its seven slender pillars, the tallest rising to 1,122ft (340 metres), were likened to needles supporting a taut thread in one the many poetic newspaper front pages marking the elegant structure's unveiling to the nation.

[Full Story]

I love the architecture and engineering of bridges. I especially love the futuristic look of cable-stayed bridges like this one. On the other hand, I definitely have mixed feelings about driving over 500 feet above a massive cloud bank . . .

Read more at Brian's Culture Blog.

December 13, 2004

We wish you a merry Chrismukkah (and a happy Eastover)

If you thought the fake holiday Kwanzaa was stupid, get ready for Chrismukkah:

Ron Gompertz and his wife, Michelle Gantt, hope that their unique holiday cards might be a way to avoid family squabbles over Christmas versus Hanukkah and open the door to understanding.

Called "Chrismukkah" cards, the message is clear: this is a time of holiday joy no matter what your faith background. "Oy Joy" and "Merry Mazeltov" are some of the messages on the cards. . . .

Gompertz is Jewish, raised in New York. His wife is a Protestant, raised in Indiana.

[Full Story]

Apparently, mixed-faith marriages are on the rise. So this syncretistic time calls for syncretistic holidays - having the unintended effect of insulting both original faiths equally. And with the original idea having come from an episode of The O.C., it's another silly example of life imitating television.

Gompertz and his wife have sold thousands of cards. Obviously there is still no lack of a market for crap.

But hey, what better way to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace than by celebrating the violent overthrow of Antiochus Epiphanes?

December 10, 2004

One last rant (for now)

In 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada overturned the existing laws banning abortion on demand in the Criminal Code, on constitutional grounds. It was then the responsibility of the government to draft replacement legislation. The then-Progressive Conservative government made one attempt to do this, in 1990, but the bill was defeated in the Senate. In 1993, the Tories were defeated in a general election and the Liberals came to power. More than 11 years later, due to Liberal inaction, Canada still has zero laws concerning abortion; it remains legal and unrestricted such that a woman may have an abortion at any time during her pregnancy, for any reason.

Now in 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada has again returned the ball to Parliament's court. While they declined to answer whether limiting marriage to "the lawful union between one man and one woman" was unconstitutional, yesterday's decision did affirm that the government had the right to change the definition. And the Liberals can't do it fast enough; legislation to that effect will be introduced in January when Parliament returns from the Christmas break and given top priority.

The irony of the situation is palpable. 11 years of inaction by the government on the abortion issue has resulted in the mass murder of multiple thousands of unborn human persons (for such they are, notwithstanding the ex cathedra pronunciation of the law to the contrary). Today, the Liberals are falling all over themselves to appease the 2% of the population who wants an official blessing to continue behaving the same way they were going to anyway. Sodomy has been legal in Canada since 1969 when Pierre Trudeau famously quipped that the governent has no place in the bedrooms of the nation; the lack of legal same-sex "marriage" has not stopped consenting adults from sleeping together, as long as they both shall live, or otherwise.

Truly a skewed sense of priority. Peace, order and good government? Like hell.

December 09, 2004

Back to first principles on same-sex marriage

This post is nothing new or profound; in fact it's an amalgamation of comments I've posted to other fora from time to time. But in light of the direction which Canadian society is now inevitably heading, the reminder is timely.)

First principles: Homosexuality and creation

Beginning with the proper starting point, we can see that God's normative design for human sexuality has its origins in the very beginning of creation: "male and female created he them" (Gen. 1:27). God created not male and male, nor female and female, but male and female.

God told them to "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth" (Gen. 1:28). God designed man and woman so that when they come together, the natural result is procreation. Man and man cannot procreate; neither can woman and woman.

"Therefore," the Word of God says, that "shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh" (Gen. 2:24). The creation account culminates in this statement. The covenant of marriage is between a man and a woman, because that covenant reflects the divinely ordained, natural order. There can be no marriage covenant between man and man, or woman and woman. It is "the man and his wife" that were "naked . . . and were not ashamed" (Gen. 2:25).

The sexual union of two members of the same sex goes against the created design. It is "vile [i.e. unnatural]" (Rom. 1:26). This twisted caricature of creation is the result of, and one evidence of, a deliberate rejection of the sovereign Creator (Rom. 1:18-32).

The issue of homosexuality is not merely one of culture. Culture is mercurial because it is the product of ever-changing human opinion. This issue goes right back to first principles.

Homosexuality and the New Covenant

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor. 6:9-10, emphasis added

The word translated "abusers of themselves with mankind" in 1 Cor. 6:9 is arsenokoites - a compound word derived from arsen, male, and koite, sexual intercourse. The meaning of the word is plain: an arsenokoites is a practicer of homosexuality, one who lies with a man as with a woman.

The Septuagint translation uses the same words, arsen and koite in Lev. 20:13, which in English reads:

If a man also lie with [koimethe] mankind [arsenos], as he lieth with [koiten] a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

Neither the Old Testament (Lev. 20:13) nor the new (1 Cor. 6:9-10) makes any allowance for "married" homosexuals. It is a contradiction in terms, notwithstanding the attempts of activists and social engineers to redefine the word; by definition a marriage is between a man and a woman. Man who lies with man has committed an abomination; he is damned.

Nonetheless, Paul does go on to say:

And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6:11, emphasis added)

The proper duty of the homosexual practitioner is not to transform society to accomodate his sins; rather, he is bound to turn from his wicked practices. Even abomination is not beyond the grace of God and the blood of Christ.

Snape! Aaaah, it's Snape!

Here's the latest thing to make me laugh out loud uncontrollably: PotterPotterMovie.

(If you don't get it, see this major Internet fad from about a year ago. You probably still won't get it, but you'll at least understand the inspiration.)

Start loading up the handbaskets

This just in from up the street:

The Supreme Court of Canada says the federal government can redefine the definition of marriage, giving gays and lesbians the legal right to marry.

[Full Story]

Once again, the Liberal government practices its time-honoured tradition of activism thorugh inaction:

But the court said that by failing to appeal a number of lower court rulings that said excluding gays from marriage was discriminatory, the federal government had already accepted that position.

"The government has clearly accepted these decisions and adopted this position as its own," the court wrote. . . .

Federal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler said Monday he would take the bill [legalizing same-sex marriages] to Parliament as early as this month.

Mitigating circumstances: The court declined to rule on whether same-sex marriage is required by the constitution (meaning it ain't a right yet) but did rule that churches could not be compelled to perform them.

Still . . . stock up on volcano insurance, people, Sodom and Gomorrah are taking an overseas vacation.

December 08, 2004

An ironic answer from Harold Camping

Apropos to the Harold Camping quotation in my previous entry: while going through some of my old files looking for it, I found this one from the previous Open Bible Dialogue program (August 20, 2002):

Camping: I will never never recommend or use a study Bible. The reason is, is that the notes in the margin or the study helps that are there are the work of men, and they're not fallible - infallible, that is. Any of us can make errors, and we read those notes on the page of the Bible, and later on we remember we saw this truth or that truth in the Bible and we don't remember whether we saw it in the notes in the margin, or whether we saw it in the text of the Bible, and it's really a very presumptuous thing to mix the Bible with notes. It'd be better to do it the proper way, and that's write your notes in a commentary that is another book alongside the Bible and then anyone reading will know, I read that in that commentary, I didn't read that on the page of the Bible.

Caller: So commentaries are supposed to be how we understand the Bible?

Camping: Well, that may be helpful, but we always read a commentary with very great care, because the one writing the commentary may be true to the Word of God, or he may not be so true to the Word of God. But at least we know when we're reading the Bible we have absolute truth, we know that that is trustworthy. When we read the commentary, we could have a very big question mark as to whether what we're reading is true or not.

Caller: And what about Bibles that have some words in italics?

Camping: Well, the words in italics, that's very legitimate, that's simply warning the reader that that particular word was not translated from the original language, it was placed there by the translators to assist in the formulation of the sentence that is given, and it's a warning, don't take that word as the Word of God, that particular word that's italicized.

Caller: So we don't know if it's true or not?

Camping: We don't know if the italicized word is true or not. We know that the rest of the words are true, but not the, uh, we don't know that the italicized word is. But thank you for calling and sharing, and shall we take our next call, please . . .

It's too bad he didn't also warn the caller about the dangers of extreme allegorization . . .

December 07, 2004

Calvinism and the sincere offer of the Gospel

Dr. Science has a standing offer to local crank inventors. Anyone who can demonstrate a working model of a perpetual-motion machine or some other "free energy" device is entitled to a cash reward of $10,000, payable immediately.

Of course, Dr. Science is a good physicist, and so he knows that his conditions cannot ever be met. Perpetual motion violates the first two laws of thermodynamics. You can't get more energy out of a system than you put into it, and all mechanical systems, left to themselves, will eventually succumb to friction and stop working. His $10,000 is perfectly safe.

Question: Is the offer sincere? Most people probably doubt it, thinking that he is cynical and just out to prove a point.

Likewise, one of the most frequent objections raised against Calvinist soteriology is that it makes God insincere in light of the doctrines of unconditional election and particular redemption. If God has already chosen the elect from the beginning of time, and if Christ has died for them only, then how can God sincerely offer salvation to the lost? He knows full well that they will refuse; indeed, they can do nothing but refuse. God, according to the Calvinists, must be some sort of cosmic tease, like a child dangling a piece of meat just out of reach of a dog tied up in the yard.

The problem with the accusation of insincerity is that it ignores the prerequisite of a sincere offer: what is offered, is granted. In fact, the focus of the argument has been shifted away from the terms of the offer onto the one making the offer.

It may very well be that Dr. Science is only trying to prove a point about kook science with his challenge. But that has nothing to do with the sincerity of the offer: "Demonstrate a working perpetual-motion machine and win $10,000," he says; "Meet my conditions, and I will keep my promise." As long as no one actually steps up to claim the prize, there is no logical ground upon which to question Dr. Science's sincerity. It hasn't been tested one way or the other.

But suppose that Mr. Crank, an inventor, discovers a genuine loophole in the laws of thermodynamics. He designs a working perpetual-motion machine. He presents it to Dr. Science with a thorough explanation of the underlying theory. However, Dr. Science chooses to rest upon his own presuppositions. Ignoring the evidence in front of him, he refuses to pay Mr. Crank his reward. Now Dr. Science's sincerity has been tested, and it has been found wanting.

And so it is with God as well. He demands that the Law be kept perfectly, else if we violate one of its statutes we are guilty of violating all of them (cf. Deut. 27:26; Gal. 3:10; Jas. 2:10). And indeed, he is trying to prove a point: that it is impossible for any man, by his own ability, to obey the Law perfectly. The Law is "our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith" (Gal. 3:24). Its purpose is to teach what sin is, and also to expose man's sinfulness and drive him to seek God's mercy through Christ. "[I]f thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved," God says (Rom. 10:9). "Meet my conditions, and I will keep my promise." Man is not able, of his own ability, to meet God's requirements, but that does not call his sincerity into question.

But God seizes the initiative and grants some men the ability to meet his conditions. If he then refused to deliver what he promised, there would be grounds upon which to doubt his sincerity. Indeed, some professed "Calvinists" have complicated matters by claiming that God may not save all who call out to him. For example, a few years ago I personally heard Harold Camping of Family Radio tell a caller who asked how to be saved:

Remember if God wants to save you, and I have no idea whether he will save you, God has to do it. But the environment in which he saves is the Word of God and I would encourage you to read the Bible, read the Bible and, and try to become as acquainted as you can with the Word of God, as you're in an environment where if God plans to save you he will apply that word to your heart. At the same time, for your own encouragement you can beseech the Lord, and God wants us to do this, you can beseech him and beg him, "O God, have mercy on me, have mercy, have mercy." Doesn't mean you're gonna get saved, but at least you know that you can get the, the message to Eternal God that you, er, uh, truly wish to have that salvation. And those - that's a luxury that God gives us. But we don't dictate to God we, we'd like, we'd like to get saved right now, right this minute. We have to wait upon the Lord. I know men and women who have waited almost a lifetime before God saved them. But, er, uh, the glorious and glamourous thing is, today is the day of salvation, God is saving all over the world. So the situation is not hopeless at all. (Open Bible Dialogue, August 21, 2002, emphasis added)

But Calvinists and Arminians alike can agree that Camping and his kind are in grave error. God has promised that "[w]hosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed" (Rom. 10:11). Because God is as good as his word, the sincerity of the gospel offer is beyond question.

Postscript: I was, um, inspired to write this after reading Jollyblogger's post on limited atonement, in particular the most recent (topmost) comment it garnered.

Post-postscript:Rebecca has also posted a different approach to this objection to Calvinism that is well worth reading.


I didn't notice at first, thanks to some pretty nifty integration into the existing Web site, but Alpha and Omega Ministries now has a bona fide, PHP-based blog, with RSS and permalinks and everything, instead of just James White rolling his own HTML.

Plaid rules.

Who am I to argue with that? I can already feel the blog-o-rifficness oozing its way into my browser.

Almost immediately, White took the opportunity to once again go after the new edition of the very deserving What Love Is This? by Dave "How to Go from Ignoramus to Expert in Just Six Months" Hunt: here, here, and here. I can't think of a more deserving subject to "baptize" a Reformed Baptist apologetics-oriented blog with.

December 06, 2004

On this day in Canadian history

87 years ago, in 1917, the Norwegian cargo ship Imo collided with the French munitions ship Mont Blanc, carrying more than 2000 tons of TNT, picric acid, and other explosives. The result was the Great Halifax Explosion. The largest man-made explosion prior to Hiroshima obliterated two square kilometers of Halifax, killed 2000 people where they stood, and injured 9000 more. The official inquiry into the disaster originally assigned sole responsibility to the Mont Blanc, but it was later concluded that both ships were equally to blame.

The CBC Web site has a good documentary on the Halifax Explosion, with pictures and even movies.

15 years go, in 1989, Marc Lépine, a mentally ill misogynist from an extremely dysfunctional family gunned down 14 female engineering students at L'École Polytechnique de Montréal. Every December 6 since, feminists politicize this aberration as an archetype of all men everywhere. As always, I refuse to be guilted into admitting to attitudes I do not share.


Why does everybody want a bad reputation?
You're so bad, you'll be a big sensation.

- Fleming and John

Read this post from Proverbial Wife, which I just read in the Christian Carnival.

Now, read this overweening response to one of Marla's offhand remarks. Today's meditation: Why are there so many poseurs who feel an overwhelming need to remind us all how much of a badass they are? And why are there so many people happy to affirm them? ("You done told her good, Cletus. That'll larn her, haw haw haw.")

(No trackbacks. Deal with that, buddy.)

(Belated) Christian Carnival XLVI

is up at A Physicist's Perspective, and indeed it has been for some time, but I just haven't gotten around to blogging it until now. With 37 entries this week, David's done a pretty good job for his first time hosting.

Once again, no submission from the Crusty Curmudgeon. That will change with CCXLVII. But here are the highlights:

I'm always a sucker for expositions of Romans, particularly chapters 8 and 9 - I have an edition of the Bible that I've opened to this place so many times, it opens there naturally now. So it's understandable that I appreciated Jeremy's exposition of Christ's deity in Rom. 9:5 over at Parableman:

Someone emailed me asking what I thought about different translations that give very different readings of Romans 9:5. The issue has a bearing on whether this verse affirms Christ's deity, so it makes a big difference to those who believe that the Bible doesn't teach Christ's deity. I don't think much rests on this verse for those who think the Bible teaches that doctrine over and over, as I believe, so even if this verse doesn't teach the deity of Christ that doesn't mean that other passages don't. The grammar of the verse is technically ambiguous (as is the earliest translation I have access to, the Latin Vulgate), but I think there are good arguments for thinking it probably does refer to Christ as God, and I don't think the arguments against that view are very strong.

[Read Christ's Divinity in Romans 9:5]

A few blogs have recently been doing series on the five points of Calvinism. Great, I say, it just saves me the trouble. Especially when people like the Jollyblogger are doing such a great job of it. He makes a covenantal argument for particular redemption (or "limited atonement," that horrible, dangerous L in TULIP), which is the best kind (in fact it was James White's version that turned me into a full-fledged, card-carrying Calvinist):

Point number one in the argument for "limited atonement," or "particular redemption," is simply to note that all of these things - Passover, Day of Atonement, sacrificial system - were intended for the people of Israel, not for everyone in the world. True, the foreigner could have his sins atoned for, but he had to become a member of the people of Israel to do so. God never intended to provide a sacrifice for sins for those outside of the people of Israel.

[Read L - Limited Atonement (Five Points of Calvinism, Part 3)]

Also be sure to read through the comments section for this post. One comment raises the important side issue of the sincerity of the Gospel call if Calvinism is true. I don't recall seeing an answer to this question in the blogosphere, so I will be tackling it myself in the next couple of days (hopefully in time for the next Carnival).

Here's a neat post from Uncle Sam's Cabin illustrating that vis-à-vis idolatry, there is still nothing new under the sun:

So Demetrius gets the craftsmen all riled up and they essentially start a riot in Ephesus. They grab themselves a couple of Christians and head off to the local gathering place. This is where we pick up the story. The mob doesn’t really have a clue what’s going on or what they’re rioting against but they know that, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

This episode reminded me very much of the mobs today in Muslim countries who gather to shout, “Allah akbar!” until they have no voice left. They are willing pawns of corrupt leaders who see their power over the people threatened. Any one of those Ephesian craftsmen could have said, well if they don’t want shrines we can make other things for them. Just as any Muslim leader or average person on the street can say, Allah akbar but we don’t need to kill ourselves or others to prove it.

[Read Great is Artemis and Allah akbar]

The King of Fools takes on a columnist who is bitter at the outcome of the presidential election, whose (typical) reaction is to quote the Bible back at the Christian Right:

The election was a decisive victory for the President and for the Republican party. The President's percentage of the national vote was the largest since Reagan while the Republicans increased their margin in both chambers of congress. Was the election a victory for Christians? I'm not convinced it was. Definition of marriage initiatives were overwhelmingly passed in 11 states but only a fool would tack a Christian label on all Republicans (or a pagan one on all Democrats).

[Read Religious Right = Wrong?]

Alan at Imago Veritatis draws a parallel between the attempts by the Chinese government to promote a Maoist-compatible "Christianity" by revising its tenets, and the historical revisionism of the Maryland educational system, in whose Thanksgiving God is no longer the object of thanks:

It seems to me that what is going on here is a deliberate cover up. It has the appearance of a purposeful distortion of historical fact. I really can’t see much difference between what the state is doing in the Maryland public schools and the type of brainwashing being engaged in by the Chinese government. Through its manipulation and distortion of the truth of history, the state of Maryland is creating the false impression that religion was irrelevant to the historical formation of our society.

[Read China, Maryland and Religious Distortion]


December 05, 2004

How moonbats think, part III

From Wizbang:

It appears that one of the Wampum authors provided the psuedo code or logic for the script hacks at Daily Kos and did so publicly and proudly at Wampum. I really don't know if the script kiddie at Kos ever saw the Wampum post, but it's just galling that a site that I have gone out of my way to promote both this year and last year would unapologetically participate (however peripherally) in what amount to a denial of service attack on the Weblog Awards site Saturday night.

[Full Text]

Ballot-box stuffing.

For a Web award.

It screams volumes about the character of the contemporary Left that they would engage in organized cheating over . . . what? A bit of goodwill from your fellow Netizens and the privilege of adding a little button graphic to your blogroll? Puerile.

December 03, 2004

Friday: Spotted in the wild

Courtesy of the handy BlogThis! feature of Blogger, a brief rundown of some good blog entries I spotted over the last week. Again, due to other circumstances in my life, a lot of these are later rather than sooner. (Sorry.)

The Jollyblogger has a good rundown of a) the case that John Stott makes a better representative of evangelical Christianity than Jerry Falwell and friends; and b) liberal "sour grapes" reactions to the argument, e.g. "Jerry Falwell is an outspoken anti-homosexual bigot, and John Stott shares the same moral views, therefore John Stott is a soft-spoken anti-homosexual bigot." Start with "David Brooks, Andrew Sullivan and John Stott" and follow the links from there.

Ambra Nykol argues in favour of abstinence-based sex education, but notes correctly that, like other controversial ethical stands such as abortion, it will only be successful after people's minds are changed:

Do I think teenagers (or anyone for that matter) should be encouraged to have premarital sex? I can say with about 658.9% certainty: NO. What I recognize is that gaining of any ground on this issue is going to take some diplomacy. (Not compromise, but diplomacy). In addition, this country is too carnal and too self-seeking to latch-on to the reality that premarital sex for anyone, is ultimately a bad decision. For the nation to come to that revelation alone would take the mighty hand of God. For this very reason, Conservatives need to be wise as serpents in how we push abstinence-only education and other similar initiatives because the very semblance of "morality" or "Christianity" will send Liberals flying off the handle. Not only that, the Liberal knee-jerk reaction to abstinence-only education is usually to write-off abstinence education altogether and I believe that possibility to be very dangerous.

[Read Abstinence-Only Education Part #6758302]

Finally, some brilliantly withering satire from the Evangelical Outpost takes on abortion, euthanasia, "moral neutrality," and the Groningen protocol (a/k/a Reason #86,204 to nuke the Dutch):

Jan: "Marsha! How are you girl? I haven’t seen you in ages.
Marsha: "Hey Jan, you’re looking great. How’ve you been?"
Jan: "Just peachy. Hey, guess what? I’m going to have a fetus!"
Marsha (excited): "That’s wonderful! Oh, I’m so happy for you. Now we both have parasites growing in us."
Jan: "Yeah, but you’re having twins. I’m so jealous."

[Read She's Having a Fetus]


(Also, I'm late blogging about the latest Christian Carnival. Stand by.)

December 01, 2004

Bush visit wrap-up

President Bush left Ottawa this morning for Halifax, where he delivered what was being billed as a major foreign policy speech at the historic Pier 21. He spoke for half an hour. It was a good speech, but there were no surprises to anyone who follows U.S. foreign policy news. The war on terror continues; the hope for prosperity in the Middle East is democracy; the peace process in Israel/Palestine will require that Palestine embrace democracy.

All in all, the president's first trip to Canada didn't accomplish anything productive, nor was it meant to; it was a goodwill visit intended to begin repairing the damage done to Canada/U.S. relations by Paul Martin's predecessor.

Best picture of the day (courtesy of the CBC):

But the clear runner-up is (props to

Personal disappointment #1

Having been aware that there was a pro-Bush rally scheduled away from downtown Ottawa, I had intended to go, but missed out. Too bad; it turns out that in return for not causing problems with the unwashed masses downtown, the authorities let the pro-Bush people inside the security area to cheer on the motorcade. I could have been one of the 0.001% of the world's population that has been within 20 feet of an American president.

Personal disappointment #2

I also wanted to go downtown and check out the demonstrations, maybe have some chitchat with a few of the moonbats. It didn't happen. As I was getting ready to leave, that was about the time that the most serious confrontations between them and the police began to happen, and I didn't want to get caught in the middle of a riot I had nothing to do with. Tear gas, as a rule, is something I tend to avoid. (None was used.)

But that's OK, because later I happened to be on a bus that served one of the local universities, and I was sitting amidst a small cadre of students who had done just that (and some of them apparently had gone to greet the president, as well). So I eavesdropped . . .

How moonbats think #1

Apparently, according to one of the students (this is pure, unashamed hearsay), one of the protestors was wielding a placard that depicted George Bush with a star of David. Asked what the significance of the symbol was, she apparently replied that she was saying Bush was a Nazi.

You gotta think about that for a few minutes.

Apparently the contradiction never dawned on her. Nor, apparently, did it dawn on the authors of this sign, posted on a Wellington Street pole. (The picture was originally snapped by Ottawa student blogger Paul Denton, who provided an excellent photo-record of the day's events yonder. I have cropped this image for use here.)

How moonbats think #2

This picture (again courtesy of Paul Denton) sums up the day:

It's got it all: the usual lame Bush-is-Hitler motif, the poorly drawn backwards swastika, an unflattering picture of Condoleezza Rice (conspicuously out of place, as a black woman, in a Nazi cabinet). Mind you, considering the number of placards sporting the name "Socialist Worker" that I saw in television coverage of the demonstrations, it seems that not a few of the demonstrators probably wore certain ideological blinders as far as who else they could compare Bush to. (Stalin, after all, was just misunderstood; all those Ukranian farmers just starved themselves to death to make him look bad.)

Of course, if Bush is Hitler, then Hitler is Bush; and oddly enough, from what I have seen of Bush so far I would be tempted to conclude that Hitler was a pretty decent guy.

Finally, as I write this, I'm listening to a late-night R&B program on a local university radio station. The DJ keeps cutting in to compliment the protestors on an effective demonstration. Conspicuously absent is any mention of what they were supposed to be protesting. That about says it all, really.


I noted the anniversary of C. S. Lewis' death on November 22, but while reading the Thinklings Weblog this morning I realized that I had missed his birthday on Monday.

Born in 1898, he died only a week shy of his 65th birthday. I hadn't realized the two dates were so close.