Saturday, November 2, 2013

Description vs prescription

     I often hear from people commenting on Romans 13, the portion concerning the civil magistrate, that this passage is descriptive and not prescriptive. This thinking is then used to justify that the civil magistrate has no obligation to enforce the (revealed) law of God. Naturally, there are several problems with this interpretation from the vantage points of basic logic, and presuppositional epistemology.

Definitions First
     When people use this argument that Rom 13 is "descriptive", they are using that term defined as such: "factually grounded or informative rather than normative, prescriptive, or emotive." Using this definition of "descriptive" for Rom 13, it can therefore be easy to see how the conclusion can be drawn that the civil magistrate is not under any obligation to enforce the law of God ("revealed" law). If Rom 13 is simply a description without any normative obligation, then the magistrate is under no obligation to enforce the law of God. 
     "Prescriptive" on the other hand, is generally understood as: "acquired by, founded on, or determined by prescription or by long-standing custom." I think that this definition is generally agreed upon by all Christians. In the specific Christian context, "... determined by biblical mandate...." 

Grammatical Considerations
     A priori, those who advocate for this usage of "descriptive" automatically are using this definition to denote no normative obligation. By what basis is this usage justified? Regardless of the modern definition of the word "descriptive", the fact that one regards something as "descriptive", this does not ***necessarily*** mean that it does not entail any normative obligation. 
     How is this so? An analogous situation could be: Christians are loved by God. This clearly is a descriptive statement. Would not the fact that Christians are loved by God imply that we are obligated to obey His commands? Of course, it does. This is so because of what is entailed with being loved by God. However, by the "descriptive" logic, the Christian is under no obligation for anything since the "Christians are loved by God" is a descriptive statement. 
     Therefore, one cannot make a logical conclusion about a subject's particular normative obligation/duty on the basis of a grammatical rule. In other words, the justification that the civil magistrate has or has no duty to execute God's law cannot be logically derived by understanding a particular point of grammar concerning a descriptive statement in the Bible. One must look at what is entailed by the descriptive statement. 
     In other words, what must be considered in Rom 13 should be similar to what is being implied about our obligation because of our being loved by God. 
     What is implied by being a minister of God in the civil sense? A minister of God in the ecclesiastical sense has obligations due to his status as a minister. This should be obvious. There is a corresponding obligation for the minister of God in the "civil realm" as well. Why would a man designated as a minister of God in the ecclesiastical sense have obligations but not for a minister of God in the civil sense?

Presuppositional epistemology
     This usage of "prescriptive" vs. "descriptive" in the context of Rom 13 also breaks down because the axiom being used in this debate is the definition of "descriptive" as opposed to starting from the presupposition of ultimate authority. Taking the logic train down further, ultimately of course, the issue of authority ends up dealing with the presupposition of the (moral, logical, ultimate, epistemological, metaphysical) truth of God and its expression as revealed in Scripture.

     What are the implications of the axiomatic point being a particular definition as opposed to starting with the presupposition of God? 

     One of the implications is that an axiom (usage of the term "descriptive") that does not properly start with God can easily be manipulated, artificially parsed to make it whatever you want it to be, because you are now **functionally** no longer referencing any subsequent premise in accordance with the standard of God's truth, but simply using that axiom as the (ultimate) basis for your subsequent arguments concerning the obligation (or lack thereof) of the civil magistrate. In other words, when Christians use this idea that Rom 13 is "descriptive", this is their automatic starting point, taking as "fact" without proof or exegesis. 
     While this seems like an esoteric point, it actually has enormous implications for the structural framework of this debate and it flies in the face of a consistent presuppositional epistemology. Whenever we are dealing with issues of what one is morally obligated or not obligated to do (in this case of the civil magistrate's duty), this issue ultimately must be a discussion based ultimate truth and authority, not based on a grammatical construct.      
      One cannot have ultimate certainty of what is (or isnt) a moral obligation or what (civil) authority exactly means when the starting point is a grammar rule and not on the presupposition of God. Therefore, when one starts with a "definition" as a presupposition, this can never provide any sort of real conclusion of what the civil magistrate's obligation is or any real conclusion on the issue of authority and moral obligation. Only when one starts with the presupposition of God can an argument have a conclusion that can be certain.

Basic Logic
     Whenever an argument is made, the entire English language is reduced to only 4 different propositions.
     (1) All "A" is "B"
     (2) No "A" is "B"
     (3) Some "A" is "B"
     (4) Some "A" is not "B".

There is a general recognition that there is a literary/grammatical form of a sentence vs. the philosophical/logical form of a sentence. For instance, the grammatical form of a proposition would be: There are no smokers. A possible logical form would be: No smokers are instantiated. 

    Another one could be: I doubt. The logical form would be: doubt is instantiated, or perhaps: doubt is occurring. 

     The point behind this is that formal logic necessitates the use of these 4 forms and these 4 forms only, when making arguments. Regardless of whether the proposition is in a grammatical or logical form, in a sense, either form can be thought of as "descriptive". The problem is that the fact that a premise is descriptive (which is what it can only be in any of the 4 forms above) this has no bearing on the actual meaning (proposition) of the premise itself. In other words, simply because something is thought to be descriptive, this in no way dictates a particular conclusion because that is not the nature of how logical argumentation actually works.    
     The form of the premise (one of the 4 forms) is needed in order for an argument to be valid (premise logically leading towards conclusion), but that is not what makes the argument sound (true or false). In other words, the premise in the proper format helps ensure that the mechanics and the structure of the argument are correct, but this actually has no bearing on whether the conclusion is actually **true**. Whether a conclusion is true or not is based on the truth of the premise. If you have false premises in the proper form, you will get false conclusions in the proper form. 
     In the Rom 13 case, the truth of whether the civil magistrate is obligated to follow the law of God cannot be based on whether the premise is "descriptive" or not (since all premises are "descriptive" when put in one of the 4 forms). The reliance on this issue of "description" does not logically entail a true conclusion, only a premise based on truth leads to a true conclusion, not on grammatical construct.  

Fallacy considerations
      This issue of "descriptive" generally is used by those in the R2K camp when discussing Rom 13. R2K advocates will say that this Scriptural description (and to a certain extent, their general observations of what the civil magistrate is) entails absolutely no obligation (or prescription).. "Rom 13 is descriptive, and not prescriptive". 
     This line of reasoning is also very curious and ultimately, very arbitrary when one considers that one of the central tenets of R2K is insisting upon drawing together obligations (or oughtness) from the what is. For example,  

Rom 13:1-7: Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

     From this passage above, we can see that the descriptions made of the civil magistrate: 
     (1) Rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. 
     (2) He is God's servant (ministers of God) for your good.
     (3) He is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. 

     It is these descriptions that are touted simply as.... descriptions, and not prescriptions. This is rather curious since they insist that functionally we can appeal to the non-Christian to say that we can appeal to their reasoning about the world around them without referencing God. If what R2K is saying is true, then, we can derive moral obligation from simply what "is" without using the Bible... Example, R2K will say that you have a mother and father. Through "nature" they have obligation to take care of us and we as children have obligation to obey them. As far as this goes, this is true. But, epistemologically, if we dont use the Bible to them, we have no consistent basis for telling them that parents have an obligation to take care of their kids. 

     Yet in a blindingly obvious (yet somehow unnoticed) about-face, they are willing to say that Rom 13 is descriptive, and has no prescriptive elements.... How much sense does this make? This is rather arbitrary. They insist that these statements from Rom 13 are descriptive and carry no obligation, and yet they will describe what is in "nature" to say that there are things in the natural order that indicates what "ought" to be (obligation). 

Natural law considerations
     If the magistrate is obligated to enforce "natural law" and not revealed law, what exactly is the content of that natural law? Where can we have the non-Christian find it if we cannot show them the Bible? What can we use to tell us whether it is fair to let a murderer go and execute someone who steals a loaf of bread? If we cannot reference an eternal standard, how can we tell the person that is executing the bread stealer that he is wrong???
     How can we bind the heart of the magistrate to let him know the content of natural law? How can we describe to him what true justice is if not for the revealed law of God? What basis do we have if not the Bible to disagree with his standard of justice? 

     What is the point behind all of this? 

     The point is that this kind of analysis of determining moral obligations can only be based on the argument and presupposition of authority given to us from God. Any other starting point can be twisted and massaged and manipulated to however we see fit. How can we derive any sense of obligation for the civil magistrate from a rule of grammar?

     Being salt of the earth is a descriptive statement. However, it will take mental gymnastics of the highest order to willfully refuse to understand that there is no obligation to follow the law of God in order to be that salt of the earth. Let's be consistent in understanding Rom 13 must be understood in the same way, and that we must bring to it to bear upon the magistrate to enforce true justice based on the Bible.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Religious Exemption for Obamacare.


Article below by Dr Joel McDurmon:

During a radio interview recently, the host was shocked when I told him that Christians, generally, can get out of ObamaCare right now if they so choose. Really? How?
Many people are still not aware that health care sharing ministries like the one run by my friends at Samaritan Ministries lobbied and debated with Congress hard during the 2009 fight over ObamaCare. As a result of their efforts, and the nature and track record of the ministry, they earned an exemption from the individual mandate in ObamaCare for members of the sharing ministry.
Long story short, join Samaritan Ministries and you are exempt from ObamaCare’s individual mandate.
And this comes among the many other advantages of Samaritan, including the facts that sharing costs are in most cases much lower than insurance premiums, and that no money whatsoever ever funds or helps fund abortions, other planned-parenthood activities, or a variety of other sinful lifestyle consequences.
I am surprised that more Christians do not seem to be aware of this exemption. It has even received fairly mainstream news coverage, reports from Christian News, and others.
I was mildly amused a few days back to read an article from called “Obamacare vs. Samaritan Health-Care Ministry: A Case Study.” The article is quite good in relating details and good case examples of Samaritan. But it carries what seems to me to be a pessimistic bias against the ministry. It says, “Samaritan may soon become a casualty of new incentives created by Obamacare,” because, “Under Obamacare, most Samaritan members will be able to purchase health insurance policies that offer richer benefits for lower prices, thanks to significant taxpayer subsidies.”
Samaritan’s vice president, James Lansberry, notes the obvious: Samaritan members join because of religious convictions, not merely financial benefits, especially government subsidies. But, the Reason author then argues, even just a tiny drop in membership can damage the ministry. It seems to me the guy wants the ministry to fail because of ObamaCare.
This amuses me somewhat because it shows an inherent tension of humanistic libertarianism. Note: is not “liberal” like Slate or HuffPost. It is not pro-big-government. But it is not conservative or Christian, either. Rather, it is humanistic libertarian, as I said. It looks with scientistic, enlightened disdain upon faith and devout people of faith. In our God-gullibility and blind faith crutchism, we represent so much of what is holding back humanity.
So, Reason wants small government and liberty, but it does not know the Christ of liberty. It does not understand the sacrificial life necessary to reclaim liberty in a tyrannical world, nor does it understand the Christian faith necessary for such a sacrificial lifestyle to be viable among a group of people. Thus, it cannot believe that Christians will truly remain devout enough to maintain liberty when just a few hundred dollars of government subsidies are tossed their way.
What this article unwittingly shows is just that: maintaining freedom and liberty absolutely requires a devotion that transcends mere monetary incentives. Personal responsibility means personal effort and personal sacrifice, and without this, tyranny will inevitably grow. It also shows that despite all talk of enlightenment and scientific progress, Reason’s view of man is quite pessimistic: he can be herded instinctively under tyranny with mere economic incentive; he will not sacrifice to stand on principles of faith.
Sacrificing for liberty is, of course, one of the main themes of Restoring America One County at a Time, including the chapter on welfare and health care in which I first prescribed Samaritan Ministries as the Christian vaccination against ObamaCare. Read my relevant articles in chapter two, Welfare.
If you’d like to read the actual exemption for yourself, check out Section 1501(d)(2)(B) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act where “Religious Exemptions” for “Health Care Sharing Ministry” are encoded. The same law is repeated as Section 5000A(d)(2)(B) of the IRS Code.
Or you can just call Samaritan now and let them explain it to you. They will help you with any other questions as well.
- See more at:

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Religious Freedom

Dr Denny Burk wrote a very insightful article. Regardless of what the future holds, the Church (yes, the church) needs to stand against the tide and be that prophetic voice calling upon all to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

If there were any doubt that Van Til was a transformationalist....

     Van Til was not a theonomist in the Bahnsen (American Reconstruction) sense of the word. This much is actually pretty clear. However, this is not to say that he was not a transformationalist.

     "Is it not true that Christianity was meant to conquer the whole world for Christ? Yes it is. We have already said that we think of Christian theism, when we think of Christianity. That covers the whole earth. If we can successfully defend the fortress of Christian theism we have the whole world to ourselves. There is then no standing room left for the enemy. We wage offensive as well as defensive warfare. The two cannot be separated. But we need not leave the fort in order to wage offensive warfare."

Ref: Apologetics by CVT.

     Reformed folks who claim to abide by Van Tillian presuppositionalism either clearly do not understand the dominion mindset that is a ***logical*** result of his apologetic, or they refuse to see it.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Conference with Doug Wilson, David Vandrunen, and Peter LIllback

     Check this out. If you were going to go, what questions would you ask, and to whom? I have very specific questions that I would want to ask DVD. I would be curious to know what yours would be. 

For instance: 
(1) please exegetically prove that the Noahic covenant actually is the formal delineation of the common and redemptive kingdom. (I have read both DVD and Kline on this, and surprisingly, this is merely assumed, and never actually proven.)
(2) If you are saying that we are not to use the Bible in terms of ethical discussions because the non-believer does not submit to the Bible, how does this not logically preclude us from using the Bible for evangelism purposes? Are we not allowed to convict people of their sin in order to lead them to Jesus Christ? How can this conviction of sin be done without using the Bible? 
(3) Please explain using R2K arguments (ie: without the Bible) to an atheist with an evolutionary worldview how the institution of marriage is in fact something that is natural. 
(4) When you say that love, marriage, diligence, morality etc... are not distinctively Christian, how is this consistent with presuppositional epistemology/apologetics, when presupp apologetics outright says that all of these things cannot be accounted for unless the Christian worldview is presupposed? Does that not make those things "distinctively" Christian?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Clarification on govt shutdown and healthcare

I wrote this to my family and friends. Please pass this along:

Family and Friends,

As you all are probably aware, the federal govt has "shut down".

I have been listening to the news and perusing various news articles on-line, and there is a lot of rubbish, half-truths, and general "the-sky-is-falling" rhetoric that can cloud the real issues and the real situation. 

Needless to say, it is quite irritating..

So, here is a summary of the facts to counter what you may be hearing on the media. Some of you are more well informed than others, so, this message is intended as a blanket message to cover all bases.. those who are political junkies, and those who are not.

1) That term "shut-down" is a rather disingenuous to the actual situation. Sometimes, you will also hear the term "partial shut-down." 
What does that exactly mean?

Yes, there will be many federal workers that will be on furlough (~800,000).. And yes, that is quite a distressing thing for those federal workers. However, if one is to look at the entirety of the situation, on an aggregate scale, what this "shut down" or "partial shut down" actually means is that 70% of the federal govt (entire civilian fed govt workforce is ~2.5M govt workers, part time and full time) will still be in operation.

TSA will still be around, military will be fully paid (the only bill so far that was 100% approved by both houses, and signed by POTUS), and USDA inspectors will still be around. (while FDA inspectors will not be).

-So, is it quite distressing that we have people not going to work for the fed? 
Yes.. of course, as it should be since they are earning a living through the fed govt.
However, let's put it in context and understand that the country is not going to implode because the federal govt is "shutting down" partially as some politicians are saying that it will.

-Additionally, while it is distressing that these federal workers are not going to be working until this budget issue is resolved, let's not forget that the entire country is struggling with finding quality work to do.. And while the unemployment rate is touted as ~7.3%, the actual figure is closer to ~15%-20% because the 7.3% number does not take into account people who have stopped looking for work or who have been out of a job for a certain length of time..
Example: If I lost my job, and I stopped looking, say, after 1 year of searching, does that mean I am no longer unemployed? No, of course not.. But by the definition of "unemployed" by the fed govt, I am no longer "unemployed."

With this 7.3%, this translates to 11.3M people.. So, yes, while 800,000 is a big deal, the country itself has been struggling for many years now.. But, the kicker is, once this budget issue is resolved (in about 1-2 months, most likely), all 800,000 people will be able to go back to work, get a paycheck, and get backpay for the months that they were not working.

Can we say that about the (actual) 15%-20% that are not working right now?
Once Congress passes something, these people will still be out of a job.

2) As a house keeping note, please be aware that the fiscal year for the federal govt starts on Oct 1 2013. So, even though it is calendar year 2013, we are technically in the **fiscal year*** 2014 now.
So, this is why you are hearing about this stuff now, and this is why it is a big deal around Sep/Oct timeframe every year because this is when Congress is supposed to pass a budget.. 

As you can probably understand, this has rarely been the case that proper appropriations and/or a budget have been passed on time.

3) What is actually being fought over is what is called the "continuing resolution"... this is a "stop-gap" measure that Congress is supposed to pass to fund the govt for a certain length of time (say, several months).. You may hear that term, or the term "CR"..
The purpose of a CR is to fund the govt when there is no formal budget..

So, with this budget battle, it was not even a battle for a formalized budget for the entire federal govt, but it was a battle over the CR that is to fund the govt until Thanksgiving... ?????? (I dont know the timeframe, so, please dont hold me to it).

4) Even with the whole govt "shutdown", this actually in no way affects the start of the health care implementation. It is still going on as scheduled, and the democrats anticipated that a situation like this would happen.. and so, in the event of a budget fight like this, they made the law in such a way that the law would still be funded, even without a Fiscal Year 2014 appropriated budget... (or FY14 appropriated CR more specifically in this case).

Any delay in implementation has to do with technical glitches or overall lack of competence in attempting to implement a program properly and on time...

It has nothing to do with the budget battle going on in Capitol Hill, absolutely nothing...

5) Initially, the issue for the CR was the House put in a measure to completely defund Obamacare. This obviously crashed and burned in the Senate.

6) Before the Senate voted on this first iteration of the House bill, Sen Cruz went on his 21 hour (with help from others) marathon speech.. It was NOT technically a filibuster because whether he did that speech or not, the Senate vote was still going to happen as planned. In Sen Cruz's speech, he mentioned numerous instances of how Obamacare has forced small businesses to cut back their hours and lay off employees, and also to drop their health plans.

Please make no mistake, it is because of the health care law that these businesses are suffering these consequences. For instance, UPS has dropped their spouse coverage. You can look it up online...

7) Just as importantly, in different ways though, if you listened to Sen Cruz's speech (at least part of it), you will realize that the entire intent behind the health care law is to ultimately go to a single-payer system. Sen Reid has emphatically stated this from the beginning as has Rep Pelosi..
Look it up, dont take my word for it.

For those who are not familiar with what a single-payer system is, in the end, the federal govt will be who is in charge of running health care.. No private insurance.
Do we really want a govt bureaucrat to make decisions about your healthcare, when it should be between you, your doctor and your insurance company?

If the federal govt cant even execute building construction properly (and no, they cannot), how could they possibly implement health care properly, when it is infinitely more complex?

8) The second, third and fourth iterations that the House passed, which the Senate immediately rejected was over the individual mandate and eliminating the exemption for congress and the president from the health care law.. which of course, the senate summarily rejected generally along party lines.

In other words, while we regular citizens will be subject to this law, Congress (and staffers) and the President (and his family) will not be...

-Please understand that the House did try their earnest to "compromise" while the Senate immediately rejected all attempts, and refused to "negotiate" at all because of the anti-Obamacare legislation.
Contrary to what you may be hearing, it isnt the House that is attempting to shut down the govt. Each CR bill that was sent to the Senate included fully funding the entire govt while maintaining an exemption from the individual mandate and eliminating the exemption of the POTUS and congress.. 

Now currently, the House is attempting to send separate CR bills to fund separate aspects of the govt piecemeal, and every time, it is expected that Sen Reid will reject these attempts, even though these attempts have nothing to do with the healthcare issue.

9) If you think that this is a pro-republican message, you are completely wrong. We are in this mess because of both the mealy-mouthed Republicans and the liberal democrats.

10) In the end, if we are to understand that Obamacare is designed to fail so that we can go to a single payer system (which has been flat out admitted by Sen Reid, and Pelosi, among others..) this entire health care debate is about control..

It has never been about health care.

Control of your life and your health.

Prior to Obamacare, 90% of Americans were getting some sort of healthcare. And of that group, 90% liked their healthcare. If this issue was really about healthcare for all, the bill should have only focused on the 10%... not forcing the entire nation to be on some healthcare, while exempting big business, labor unions, and themselves.

If the govt funds insurance, they can control whether you get a hip replacement when you are 75 yrs old. For instance, in the military healthcare system, it is already a quasi-Obamacare healthcare. A good friend that I know can tell you about it when she was pregnant with her daughter. Because their experience was so bad, she refused to give birth at Camp Pendleton, and they went all the way to Los Angeles to give birth.

And guess who pays for all 300M-350M people's insurance??? You do.. the taxpayer..

What right does the govt have to have this kind of control over you?
By what moral authority does the govt have to control you in this way?

The answer is, they have no authority to control you in this way.. Only through a proper understanding of the authority that Jesus Christ gave to the civil magistrate can we truly and properly understand that govt is to avenge evil, not to control your life by deciding whether you live or die based on whether a medical procedure is too expensive..

In our family worship in the evenings, my family and I pray that God's justice will be done and that God would raise up godly leaders and call upon the church to use its prophetic voice to command all people everywhere (including the govt) to repent and believe in Jesus Christ.

So, in conclusion, please consider what I have written above whenever you hear anything about this issue, and I hope that I am helping so that we all can be better informed citizens. Please also call your representatives and let your voice be heard.

It is difficult at this time to know how things will play out in terms of these multiple CR bills that will keep getting rejected, but please let your voice be heard. Please urge your representatives to stop controlling us and let us decide what is best for our health and well-being. 

Though this current effort in the House does not completely stop Obamacare (partly because the CR's keep getting rejected), it is a step in the right direction.. 

A) Please call your congressman, and tell him/her to do what it takes to do away with this law, step by step.. Your reps need to hear from you... Call both repub and democrat... 

B) There is an online petition that you can sign: Over 2M people have already signed. 

C) Knowledge and information is power... These are some good websites for news that actually give you the information you need to make an informed decision..

D) Inform your friends and others you know. You can forward this message. 

E) Lastly, let's ask God to execute his justice in this land and that all will repent and believe in Jesus. Let us repent of our sins that have contributed to this mess. 

Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you for your time. 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

All Christians should be transformationalists.

     A lot of times within the reformed polemical debates concerning the law of God, I think that sometimes, things get lost within the carpet bombing about the logical implications regarding the respective viewpoints or what the logical implications should be.

     Typically, theonomists tend to be the most obvious example of Christian activism along with Neo-Calvinists/Kuyperians. Also, typically, but not exclusively, (R)2K advocates tend to be very neutered in their approach, or even have a refusal or general reluctance at all to be an activist. And then you have folks who are presuppositional, not really theonomists, not Kuyperian, and not really (R)2K, and these folks are all over the map when it comes to activism. John Frame would be an example of this fourth category in that he seems generally pretty vocal (at least in his "Doctrine of the Christian Life"), while some others who are generally in this fourth camp tend to let their "pessimistic" eschatology justify their refusal to be involved, even through their presuppositionalism should belie this attitude of refusal. 

     All this to say that even if you are a presuppositionalist (as in the fourth category), this does not necessarily mean that you are a (reformed) transformationalist as a theonomist or a neo-calvinist/kuyperian is.

     Transformationalism in this sense means as the gospel goes forth, people will be changed in their hearts and minds, and thus culture, politics, economics etc... will gradually conform the moral standards of law of Christ. Transformationalism can (and should) be used to focus externals such as changing legislation. However, it must properly be understood that changing legislation or changing culture isn't an ends to itself but those changes are for the purpose of reflecting God's law publicly as a context to call people to repentance and believe and have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
     It bears repeating: it is important for transformationalists to understand that true transformation comes from the gospel changing hearts. Changed legislation or changed culture can be one of the means by which this is done (law driving to the gospel), but it can also be a result of the gospel changing hearts and behavior (gospel driving people to the law). Additionally, it should again be mentioned that any attempts to change culture or legislation are not the ends to themselves.

      With this definition of transformationalism in mind, it is difficult for me to understand why all Christians are not transformationalist. Some Christians who are anti-transformationalist will say that there is an over-emphasis on worldviews, as if that somehow properly provides a rebuttal against a theonomic or neo-calvinist transformational methodology.

     An overemphasis on worldviews? This is an absolutely strange statement that is being made given what the Bible says concerning the differences between those who belong in Christ and those of the world. A simple reading of 1, 2, 3 John will clearly reveal that John clearly understood that this spiritual conflict between Christians and pagans is reflected by a difference in their respective masters, worldviews (among other things) and subsequent behaviors.

     First, at what point does an emphasis on worldviews become an over-emphasis? And how can we assume that that anti-transformationalist standard for over-emphasis is correct, while the theonomists' isn't? Clearly, this involves a lot of question begging and is logically absurd.

     3 John 7: "It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans."
     3 John 11: "Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God."
     2 John 7-9: Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. -Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.
     1 John 2:9-11: "Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them."
     1 John 2: 15-17: "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever."
     1 John 3: 9, 10: "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister."
     1 John 4: 2,3:  "This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world."
     1 John 5:18, 19: "We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one."

     Even just a cursory glance should show that John labors to tell his audience that there is in fact a distinct contrast between those who are in Christ, and those who are in the world. This difference is due to our union with Christ, while those in the world do what is evil and has not seen God (2 John 9), are still in darkness (1 John 2: 9-11) etc... All of these verses that I quoted can be thought of as differences in worldview and one's subsequent actions/behavior based on his worldview. So, to disparage someone for an "over-emphasis" on contrasting the Christian worldview to the secular worldview should be really be seen as quite inconsistent with the sharp contrasts that John works hard to delineate.

      Of course, as you pull the logic train backwards and forwards, this delves into other issues involving the ontological Trinity as the true theological axiom of presuppositionalism, and the derivative concept (yet still foundational in certain ways) of the worldview.

     Different situations call for different emphasis in your apologetical methodology. In John's letters, the ontological Trinity is of course assumed but not directly dealt with, and so what is emphasized in the letters is the derivative contrast between a man who has union with Christ (1 John 4:2,3), his resulting worldview based on Christ (1 John 5:19) and his subsequent actions that he commits based that worldview (1 John 3:9, 10) vs. a man who is not of God.

     What does this have to do with (reformed) transformationalism?

     We clearly can see from this that there is a sharp spiritual (1 John 3:9, 10), moral (1 John 5:18, 19), and ethical  (1 John 2:15-17) antithesis between the Christian and the non-Christian.

     We clearly can see that the God-hating (Rom 1:30) presuppositions of natural man lead him to sin. We know that sin is breaking of the law of God (1 John 3:4).

     We know that it is the law that provides the proper context for the gospel (and vice versa). We are saved from the curse of the law and God commands us to repent of our disobedience to Him and the law and to submit to him (Acts 2:38). By implication, when in Christ, we submit to his law for our sanctification (Jas 2:8).     
     We also know that God commands his people to believe in His Son. 1 John 3:23: "And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us."

     Now then, does God call only on Christians to believe in Him and to repent of their sins (law-breaking)? Or by extension, is He calling on the entire world to believe and repent? 

     We should clearly understand that it is the latter. If He is commanding the church to believe in Jesus, He is also commanding the rest of humanity to believe in Christ as well. 
     So, as we Christians go out and evangelize, we not only tell people about Christ, but we also tell them about the need to repent of their sins (1 John 3:4) because they have broken His law and to sin no more. On a large scale, as more and more people become converted, they would repent of their sins and change their behavior personally, and their extended behavior as it delves into other areas such as the legislative process and through the arts and general culture. 

     This is what true gopsel centered transformationalism should entail and one that every Christian, no matter what polemical stripe he is, should be praying for. Sadly, we know that this isn't the case. But even through this, I know that God will accomplish His will, even with the obstinate and ignorant sheep that we all are.

    Jesus, may your will be done and please come back soon!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The low information American citizen.

     What has concerned me for quite some time now is the utter lack of information being purposely left out by such radical leftist "news" organizations such as CNN, and MSNBC. It really bothers me that I have friends and relatives who actually think that these organizations are actually worth their salt in terms of being reputable journalistic organizations.

     Even if one were to primarily get his news from these sources, if he were a thinking man, he would eventually see that what is not being reported and what is being reported is very noteworthy, which should cause him to search the Internet for other sources of news. There is almost too much information out there on the web, and there are many excellent politically conservative news sources here, and here and here and even better, Christian ones as well. There really is no excuse for a person not be informed.

     For example, this whole ridiculous debacle with the George Zimmerman trial, in which the main point behind this was that trial was about race. This is the mantra that the main stream media was pushing, and like docile sheep, so many Americans simply believed it, thereby revealing their intellectual laziness to dig deeper and actually look at the facts of the case. There is a problem in that if you actually looked at the trial and the arguments that the prosecution and the defense were using, neither side used race during the trial, and even the jurors agreed that this trial was not about race. Look it up. Dont take my word for it.

    My point behind this is that a large part of why our country is the way that it is, and a large part of why our Christians have such a weak practice of a strong Christian ethic is that they are constantly being bombarded by mediocre journalism that touts itself as the gold standard. Many Christians don't realize that they are falling into the exact same trap as the pagan, which is using the media as their authority. They may not realize it, but their Christian worldview is so weak and their doctrine so poor, that they simply replace God with the pagan media.

     For example, a Christian man that I know kept telling me how it would be a good idea to enact stricter gun control legislation after the Sandy Hook murders. Reducing the number of rounds in a magazine, and eliminating semi-automatic weapons and only keeping non-semi-automatic weapons. It was obvious to me that he was simply regurgitating the liberal viewpoints without realizing how foolish he was sounding.

     First of all, he has never handled a gun in his entire life, and he speaks as if he is the authority on weapons.. I have handled weapons in the past, so I know what I am talking about. I hope I dont have to belabor the point in terms of the absurdity of what I was dealing with. For those that dont know, whether it is 10 rounds in a magazine or 30 rounds, the amount of damage done with a 10 round magazine is the same as a 30 round magazine as long as the shooter reloads fast enough, and in the Sandy Hook case, the shooter would have been able to reload fast enough. The delay would only have been less than 1 second if he only had 10 round magazines.

     Second, automatic weapons are outright illegal everywhere in the US, and if you have one, even if it is in your home, in your basement, you will go to jail. By definition, if your weapon is not automatic, it is semi-automatic. One pull of the trigger for one firing of a round. To want to ban semi-automatic weapons and only have non semi-automatic weapons is clearly an absurd and grossly uninformed statement.

     Third, the shooter was breaking about just about every gun law on the books.. He wasnt old enough to have a gun, he was bringing guns into a gun-free zone, he took the guns from his mother, he didnt register the guns that he stole from his mom, he concealed the guns in his clothes before the shooting etc... We already have laws in place and my friend simply could not understand that enacting more laws would not have prevented Sandy Hook because the shooter was already breaking so many laws to begin with... laws that were supposedly designed to prevent gun violence.

     Fourth, his entire premise for why we need more gun control is based on the fallacy of cause. It is a basic philosophical/logical concept that items or things do not cause events, it is people who causes these events. By his logic, we should ban certain types of cars and alcohol because DUI's kill pedestrians. Or perhaps ban forks because we ate too much spaghetti and it made us gain so much weight.

     Fifth, this is where the whole idea of media comes in. He was so uninformed and so willing to make the media his God that he didn't know that on that very same day as Sandy Hook, a man in China murdered about the same number of kids with a knife. To be consistent, we should start banning kitchen knives as well. At this point, people would say, that it was the person's fault, not the knife's fault. What is the difference for a gun? Nothing...

     And I havent even begun to talk about the philsophical, theological and constitutional arguments for proper self defense in relation to guns.

     It is amazing how much control the media has on people, and how people have made the media their God, and they will absolutely refuse to listen to other viewpoints because of their authority, the liberal media, is saying something completely opposite to the proper Biblical response.. and this includes low information Christians as well.

     Another example is here. Take a look at the video, here. You will notice how grossly uninformed these college students are. It concerns me because these people are the ones who will eventually make the decisions in our country as voters and as government officials and whatever other vocation you can think of. These people make decisions based on the narrative of what is being fed to them, not because they ever actually gave the situation any critical thought.

     This should scare you and motivate you to do what you can in your current station in life.
    Dont be stupid sheep. Be informed so that you can make the most biblically consistent decision possible based on ALL the information that you got from searching and analyzing, not by being intellectually lazy and having things spoon fed for you by the liberal media.

     In theology, it is critical to understand all sides of an issue before making a decision on what particular theological viewpoint you are going to hold.. Calvinism, Arminiasm, Paedobaptism, creedobaptism etc... It should be easy to see why one needs to do this.
     Why is this any different for political and cultural issues? The point is that it isnt any different at all.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Is murder a crime against man or against God?

     One of the common arguments against having civil government enforce the first table of the decalogue, in addition to the second table is that the first table involves our duty towards God while the second table involves duty towards man. The idea is that govt was made for man and that it isn't the govt's place to "enforce" religion by enforcing the first table of the law.
     The reasoning goes that civil government is obligated to enforce the second table of the Decalogue because this is what is reflected in nature and "common" to all man.
      Predictably, this type of reasoning is full of flaws and sloppy reasoning. I will focus on a few points.

      Most people would recognize that murder is wrong, whether Christian or non-Christian., it is "common" among both. The reasoning then goes on to say that therefore, this is an acceptable crime for the government to address, and it certainly isn't a "religious" crime, since it is a "common" crime. Before I go on, unfortunately, it is not as "common" as people think to say that murder is wrong.. Why do we still have abortion then? And we have top abortion advocates finally admitting that the "fetus" is a human being and yet they still advocate abortion!

     While we can certainly understand that killing without justifiable provocation (murder) is wrong, the ultimate normative basis behind why murder is wrong is that it is an assault on the image of God. In Gen 9:6, we read: “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind."

     The entire reason that death penalty for murder is instituted is that murder is wrong because that man was made in the image of God, and that image is being destroyed when one is being murdered. 

     This point is an important one that seems to be overlooked so often. This is exactly why there is a fundamental difference between killing an ant when it is eating our food versus killing a human being because he looked at you in a grumpy way.

     Atheists will say that murder is wrong because it is wrong to harm another person. This is certainly true. But ***why*** is it wrong to harm another person? The atheist at this point has no answer. If it were wrong to kill another person simply because it is wrong, that is question begging and it's his word against another atheist's. Who is to say that Atheist A is correct while Atheist B is not? Without the normative standard of God's law as revealed to us in the Bible, we would never properly know.

     At this point, many R2K-ers will also say that we don't need the Bible to tell us that murder is wrong because of Gen 9:6 and how this is something that was naturally placed in our hearts to understand and know. This line of reasoning is fallacious.
     It seems ironic to me that an R2K-er will tell me that we cannot use the Bible to say that murder is wrong to the non-Christian and he will cite justification for doing so ***using the Bible***. How can one use the Bible to justify not using the Bible? That is like trying to prove that I dont know how to speak English by using all of my reasoning in the English language.
     Secondly, I wrote above that the ultimate reason that murder is wrong is because of Gen 9:6 (the image of God). R2K arguments, which refuse to actually use the Bible in the public square, would have a hard time informing the atheist that murder is wrong when they refuse to actually give the non-Christian the primary and ultimate reason as to why it is wrong in the first place.
     Thirdly, how would the R2K-er have even known the proper concept that there actually is such a thing as things being revealed in nature if it weren't for the Bible? Consistent atheism does not understand that anything is revealed in nature. All they see is that nature is what it is.. Christians do understand that things are revealed in nature, because of what they read in the Bible (Rom 1). R2K attempts to prove revelation in nature without using the Bible when the only way that we could possibly know that there is revelation in nature is because the Bible says so! And yet, R2K refuses to acknowledge the very reason for the very concept of revelation in nature.

     It concerns me that R2K refuses to understand the utter incoherence of its theological methodology.

     Remember when Saul was murdering Christians in Acts. From a "purely civil" perspective, this would generally be seen as a crime against another human. However, if you notice in Acts 9:4, when Jesus is talking to Saul, the first thing that Jesus says isnt, "Why are you persecuting my people?", the first and actually the only thing that Jesus says is: "Why are you persecuting ME?". Jesus reiterates this when he responds to Saul's question about who He is. Jesus repeats his assertion that Saul was persecuting him by responding "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.".

      It is interesting to note that Jesus is implying that every time Saul had killed Christians, he was actually and ultimately persecuting Jesus. Of course, Jesus understood that Saul was directly hurting His followers, and yet, it is noteworthy that Jesus never mentions to Saul about persecuting his followers, but that Saul was persecuting Him!

     This is noteworthy because although murder and persecution are commonly seen today as crimes primarily against the individual from a temporal perspective, we see that the Bible doesnt view these crimes first and foremost from the temporal perspective.

     We see that the Bible views the sins of murder and persecution FIRST AND FOREMOST as heinous acts against the Triune God. Notice how in Gen 9:6, and in Acts 9:4, what is mentioned is that these sins are against God (image of God: Gen, and Jesus: Acts), and there is no justification mentioned for these crimes being wrong because of their effect on man.

      In other words, when we are talking about murder, the standard as to why it is wrong is that it is an assault on the image of God. Through the secondary means of murdering a fellow man, this assault on the image of God is brought to bear. God clearly understands that murder is an assault on a fellow human, but He doesnt mention that as the reason for why murder is wrong in Gen 9:6. Yes, murdering someone is wrong.. (secondary means)... But why is it wrong? Because it destroys the image of God (primary).
     If man were the first and foremost reason as to why murder is wrong, Gen 9:6 would have been stated differently and focused on the harm done to man, and not the harm done to God.

     And more specifically, when talking about the state or any person persecuting Christians, they are in fact persecuting Jesus, through the secondary means of harming his followers.

     I am hoping that through this example of murder, we can see that it isn't simply a "civil" crime that has no religious significance, but in fact has as much religious significance as idol worship or blasphemy. (I also seem to remember certain non-Israelite nations (who did not directly have the law of Moses) being blotted out for their idolatry even though they were not specifically told that idolatry is wrong.........).. We can see implications of this on not just murder in general, but on other issues such as abortion. With this in mind, we should never grow cold towards abortion.

     Finally, for the persecution example, we see that there is murder or other hateful actions being done towards Christians, but our Lord looks at this persecution FIRST AND FOREMOST not as an assault on his followers, but on HIM.

     It really does concern me, and to be honest, it angers me, when I see Christians and church leaders refusing to speak out and take practical steps towards fighting against this persecution through prayer, and loving Christian action towards calling people to repent and believe in the Lord.. and other non-traditional things such as blogging and other forms of information transmission through various other media.

    In effect, the message that is being said when churches refuse to speak out and take action is: We find it acceptable for you the state, other people etc.. to continue to persecute Jesus by passing laws and bullying Christians to be silent, compromise our faith, and ultimately make us sin against our Lord.

     It is unfortunate that people don't see that the implications of refusing to speak out is that we are allowing the persecution not just Jesus' followers but persecution of JESUS himself to be accepted.

     How is it that a Christian is now somehow regarded as being orthodox (R2K) by refusing to speak out and ultimately therefore allowing Jesus to be persecuted as opposed to not allowing him to be persecuted but honored and feared (theonomic, or at least Kuiperian)?

     When did Christendom and supposed bastions of the reformed faith become so terribly backwards?