Monthly Archives: April 2010

Coming Out of the Closet, part I

It appears as though Christian singer Jennifer Knapp has recently come out of the closet. She’s been involved in a same-sex relationship for the last eight years.

ABC News and Christianity Today both broke the story, and Bob Botsford wrote the definitive post on the topic, as well as joined Knapp on Larry King Live (commentary by Mariano beginning here).

I’ve written numerous times on homosexuality in the past. I’ve discussed the proper treatment of homosexual persons (and indicted the church for its shoddy treatment of such persons) and I’ve tried to answer the controversy on whether or not homosexuality is even a sin.

My conclusion is that homosexuality is inescapably condemned by Scripture, but Knapp has refused to see that. During the Larry King interview, she said:

I haven’t gone to seminary. I haven’t gone to Bible school. Yet, I’m aware of the fact — I’m deeply aware of the fact that we’re relying on the translations of Greek and that we’re translating from a language, you and I, that is not originally our own… There are a lot of well-studied academics — both believers and seekers of God and those who are just purely trying to understand what the sacred text means to all of us — that really put question on how we’ve interpreted the words, what is it malikos and arsenokitai. There are two Greek words that we have substituted in our English language as homosexuality, which didn’t actually exist in my understanding of a lot of Greek language experts in the manner in which we use it.

The Greek words malakos and arsenokoites are mentioned. Knapp says that their exact meanings are debated by etymologists. That’s slightly misleading, as I’ve discussed here. Linguistic scholarship is unified that those words refer to homosexuals. She admits that she’s no Greek scholar, then she proceeds to discuss the meaning of Greek words. She must have heard this argument from someone and decided to latch on to what was said (even though it is demonstrably wrong) in order to justify her sin.

I’ve done that before! Haven’t all of us, at one time or another, come up with extremely lame justifications for sins that we just don’t want to let go of? I’ve since repented, and I pray that Knapp does, too. Read the rest of this entry

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Arrest the Pope?

The atheist blogosphere has been positively buzzing as of late with calls to arrest Pope Benedict XVI. I’m no fan of the Catholic Church, but I have seen evidence that the media reports half-truths and pulls things out of context to make the Catholic Church look worse than it has to. The case of Father Lawrence Murphy is a great example.

The leader of the charge is the always pit bull-like Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens wants the Pope charged with aiding and abetting the scandal–or perhaps more serious charges, such as accessory to rape.

The problem is that the Holy See, of which the Pope is head, is treated as a state for the purposes of international relations. As head of that state, the Pope enjoys sovereign immunity, the controversial concept that the government can’t be the subject of a lawsuit or a criminal proceeding.

Sovereign immunity can be waived by the owner, and it’s very doubtful that either the Pope or the Catholic Church will do that. Or, courts can strike it down as inapplicable in the current case, as was done by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati in November of 2008. A case against the Vatican was allowed to proceed because sovereign immunity doesn’t apply to tort law, according to the Fedeal Sovereign Immunities Act.

Sovereign immunity doesn’t apply to international tribunals, either. The Pope could still be charged in the International Criminal Court for patterns of human rights violations perpetrated by the Vatican under the previous two pontiffs.

It will be interesting to see if this actually comes to pass. I doubt that it will, but we shall see.

Keep the Comment Spam Coming!

I should just create a category for comment spam. This just in:

I found your site from bing and it is magnificent. Thankx for supplying such an amazing blog post…

Thanks! This was attached to the post that attempted to answer if God was the author of sin in Calvinism, to which I recently added a retraction. Good, careful reading!

I Agreed With ANOTHER Atheist!

Just when I thought Mark from Proud Atheists was a complete waste of my time, he shines with a short but great post.

In it, he posts a picture meant for comedy, and then asks a single, serious question: “In many states, teachers and child care workers are screened. So why not include the priests, pastors, rabbis and other clergy?”

Why not? If potential pastors have nothing to hide, then they shouldn’t mind being screened in this way. I think more denominations should adopt this. We know that there’s a rampant problem in Catholicism, and Mark is on a quest to prove that Protestantism isn’t immune from it (here, here, here, here, and here). Why not create some better accountability?

It sounds like a very sensible idea.

The Omnipotence of God is Like a Tomato Plant

On my post titled “Things God Can’t or Won’t Do?,” a reader left this comment that found its way into my spam folder:

Great stuff. Perhaps a little off topic, but would you mind if I write something about this on my tomato plant blog? I will of course, cite original source and link back to your page.

Omnipotence of God, tomato plants. Omnipotence of God. . . tomato plants. Yeah, I see how you got there.

Did John Piper Say that God was the Author of Sin?

I’m getting numerous hits from search engines that indicate people are looking to see if John Piper said that God is the author of sin. I can’t find the source of this controversy, or who made the charge, or why people seem to be looking for this topic right now. As near as I can figure, it comes from this article, dated January 1, 1993. Nothing like dealing with current events, right? Read the rest of this entry

Yet More Fun From the Spam Folder

I get a never-ending barrage of comical comments caught in the spam folder. “Kyra Estle” left me this interesting comment attached to my prayer essay:

GURU means the preacher who removes ignorance – darkness by emitting knowledge – light. The field of the context is important here. If you are ignorant of mathematics, a teacher may remove your ignorance about mathematics by teaching mathematics. Such a teacher cannot be called as Guru. Guru is the preacher who diverts you towards God by removing your ignorance about God. This is the most important field for any human being because it is the basis of every aspect of life here as well as there after death. The final knowledge of God is to know that you are always ignorant of God, because God is unimaginable or ever unknown.

Actually, according to Wikipedia, a guru is “one who is regarded as having great knowledge, wisdom and authority in a certain area, and who uses it to guide others (teacher).” Kyra is correct in drawing the comparison between darkness and light, as the elements of the word indicate coming out of the darkness and into the light. However, why someone would not be considered a guru just because his subject is mathematics is beyond me.

Kyra seems to say that a guru can direct one toward God, but then turns around to say that we’re always ignorant of God because he is “unimaginable or ever unkown.”

Obviously, Kyra’s concept of God isn’t drawn from the Judeo-Christian one. Man is made in the image of God. Therefore, it stands to reason that God is, at least in some sense, knowable to man in that respect. While I agree that it is tough to contain God in a neat box, the fact that man is made in the image of God means that God and man share at least some characteristics. This makes it possible for the skeptic to argue as he does that man made God in his image. Put another way, “if triangles had God, he’d have three sides.”

Either way, that is why I thank God for spam folders. DELETE!

Do Christians Read the Bible Anymore?

When I see this:

Many women who dress inappropriately … cause youths to go astray, taint their chastity and incite extramarital sex in society, which increases earthquakes. Calamities are the result of people’s deeds. We have no way but conform to Islam to ward off dangers. (source)

And this:

Television and radio evangelist Pastor John Hagee believes the recent eruption of the volcano in Iceland stems from Britain breaking God’s covenant.

The day after Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority said the Western Wall in Jerusalem could not be used in Israeli tourism ads in Britain because it is considered occupied territory, Hagee said, the volcano erupted, shutting down Britain’s economy in one day.

“That’s coincidence, like the flood was a coincidence. That’s coincidence, like the Red Sea was coincidence. That’s coincidence, like the earthquake and the Resurrection was coincidence,” Hagee told about 3,200 people at Lancaster County Convention Center on Thursday night as part of John Hagee Ministries’ Rally and Prophecy Seminar. (source)

I really wonder about the intelligence and the sanity of the preachers ordained by God to minister to his people. I’ve answered this point before, but only in general terms. Since these two are speaking specifically about disasters, I thought I’d take a look at the words of Jesus regarding a disaster in his day, the fall of the Tower of Siloam.

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Lk 13:1-5)

It is often the temptation of us ordinary mortals to try to attribute some sort of meaning to the meaningless. But it isn’t always the case, bibically or otherwise, that a disaster leading to death or destruction of a country’s economy is the result of sin. Look at Job; he was righteous in God’s eyes, yet God allowed tragedy after tragedy to befall the poor guy.

Jesus, who would have been in a position to know why God allowed that tower to collapse and kill those 18 people, didn’t ruminate on the sin of those people. Instead, he called his hearers to repentance, asking them if they thought that they were somehow better than those who were caught in the disaster.

Of course they aren’t. No one is better than anyone else; we all are sinners (Rom 3:23).

Instead of being arrogant and acting as if he knows better than Jesus why a particular disaster befell the U.K., perhaps Hagee should follow in Jesus’ footsteps more closely. Use this event to highlight God’s impartiality: “Do you suppose that those caught in the volcanic eruption were worse sinners than you? Repent, or you too will perish.”

More Spam Folder Comedy

My spam folder has become an endless source of amusement.

This essay on the Jesus Tomb Documentary (from March 2007) generated the following comment:

Check this Out!

2 days ago I received a message from 972-284-0600 / 9722840600 and was convinced the the person calling was a scammer.

I decided to complain to the the number and went nuts.

Anyway, I feel like such a fool Gulf Coast Western -an oil corporation- was calling me back to approve my job application – apparently I got the job!

I think I’m soooo fired!!!!???

Question. What does that have to do with anything I wrote in the essay?

Wow!

Steve Hays (I’ve disagreed with him in the past) of Triablogue has posted twice about this comment from Ben of Arminian Perspectives:

Wrong. J.C. has never said that God is dependent on our choices. What he has said is that God’s knowledge of our choices is dependent on those choices. How could it be otherwise? If God never created us, would he know anything about us? Of course not. So God’s knowledge of us is dependent on their being an “us” to know something about.

Fascinating. And dead wrong.

The key here is the sentence “If God never created us, would he know anything about us? Of course not.” As a Reformed thinker, I don’t agree with Molinism, but there is something to Molinism’s levels of knowledge that is important here.

The first level of knowledge is God’s natural knowledge. This includes all that ever could be created, without restrictions. Without this knowledge, God would simply not be God.

The second level of knowledge is middle knowledge, that which God knows will come to pass given the right circumstances. This represents how humans will exercise their free will, but middle knowledge is not dependent on God’s action or inaction. It grows out of the act of creation itself.

The third level of knowledge is God’s free knowledge, which is God’s ability to intimately know every aspect of the world that he created. And I should mention at this point that this description of Molinism is extremely simplified; and likely inaccurate on at least a few points.

Note that us Reformed philosophers grant God both natural and free knowledge, while denying that middle knowledge is even necessary to explain divine sovereignty versus man’s free will.

God’s divine foreknowledge, even in a system like Molinism that is needlessly complicated, doesn’t depend on human movements subsequent to the act of creation. God knows what is possible before a single act of creation is undertaken (natural knowledge), and he knows what will follow from any act of creation (free knowledge) given the circumstances that a creature finds him or herself in (middle knowledge).

No one denies this–not the Molinist, not the Calvinist, not the Arminian. Except for Ben. So maybe this wasn’t facetious after all?