Tuesday, December 30, 2008

St. Theophilus was the sixth Bishop of Antioch. He became bishop in 168 AD and was an important leader in the early church. It is known, from Eusibius and other early church writers, that Bishop Theophilus wrote a very early commentary on the Gospels and a number of other works defending the faith recieved by the Church of Jesus Christ.

All of this godly bishop's writings have since been lost except for his apologetical writings to his friend Autolycus. Autolycus was a good friend, but a pagan, who looked down on his friend's faith in Jesus Christ.

In his first book to Autolycus, Theophilus says, "you call me a Christian, as if this were a damning name to bear, I, for my part, avow that I am a Christian, and bear this name beloved of God, hoping to be serviceable to God."

I find this quote interesting, I also find it to be very modern. Today, as for as the secular elite are concerned, one of the most embarrassing names that you can take is that of Christian. Unless, of course you are a "christian" who denies almost every tenant of the traditional faith of the Christian Church. A good "christian," according to secularists, is one who is a near socialist, approves abortion, gay marriage, and other loves of secular, post-Christian culture.

Conservative Christians, be they Roman Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant, are anathema in to our culture's secular elite, as were Christians like Bishop Theophilus of Antioch in the second century Roman Empire. We have come full circle; it is once again, in the eyes of a large segment of modern American culture, and the Biblical faith of Christians is something to be scorned and hated.

According to our cultural elite, it is evil, bigoted, and a matter of hate for a Christian to believe that homosexuality is a sin or for a Christian to oppose gay marriage. In the mind those same elites the title Christian is "a damning name to bear."

The Christian faith was once the cultural norm here and in Europe. Those days are long gone. Today, our land has no cultural norm, In some places in our country, the old Christian norms still have a toe hold on the culture, in other areas those old norms are viewed as stupid bigotry and are despised.

At some point we may find ourselves caught up in a French Revolution type blood bath. I don't think such a thing can happen today, but we are moving in libertine direction and that is what is needed to bring about the conditions that allowed the French Revolution.

No matter, the God of Scripture is the Lord of history and we can trust in Him.

Coram Deo,

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dr. Greg Bahnsen died in 1995, before then he was one of 20th century's greatest defenders of the Christian faith. I have read a number of his books and listened to countless hours of his lectures as well. The clip below is from a tremendous debate that took place between Dr. Bahnsen and Dr. Gordon Stein. It is worth every minute that it will cost you to listen to it.

You can listen to the whole debate by going to this LINK.

Coram Deo,

Monday, December 22, 2008

I am an unapologetic Christian. I believe in the triune God of the Christian Scriptures. I believe in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, that He lived a sinless life, that He died on a cross outside of Jerusalem, and I believe that He rose again on the third.

Was Jesus born on December 25? Probably not, but it does not matter. Far more then a millennium ago Christians chose to celebrate the birth of our Lord on this day. I believe it is good that we do so.

It is necessary to celebrate Christmas? No. It is not, as St. Paul wrote, "One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. " (Rom. 14:5-6)

There are "Christians" who condemn and try to tear down the celebration of Christmas. If they can not celebrate this day in good faith, than they should not do so, but neither should they try to drag others into their weakness. They are free to not celebrate, just as I have liberty in Christ to celebrate his birth near the winter equinox as most my Christian brothers and sisters have done for more than 1500 years.

We have liberty in Christ in matters such as this. It is sad to see people bind their own consciences so that they can not enjoy Christ in His fullness.

Coram Deo,

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rick Warren, Prayer and Hate

Homosexual groups are upset because Rev. Rick Warren has been asked by President elect Obama to say the opening invocation at his inauguration. Pastor Warren accepts the Bibles teaching that homosexual relationships are sinful. On this point he stands solidly within the mainstream of the ancient and common Christian position on the subject.

Today on the news I heard claims that Pastor Warren promoted "hate" against homosexuals, because he opposes the legalisation of homosexual marriage and believes homosexual acts to be sin. This is an interesting argument. Let's see carry out that line of thought.

Christians, following the Bible, believe that adultery is a sin.

Does that imply that we "hate" adulterers?

Christians, following the Bible, believe that sex outside of marriage is a sin.

Does that equate to hatred by Christians for heterosexuals that are sexually active?

Christians, following the Bible, believe that it is a sin to steal?

Does that mean that we "hate" thieves.

The answer to all the above questions is a simple "no." Christians believe, in line with the Scriptures, that we are all sinners. As St. Paul wrote, "all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God." St. John, following Jesus, agrees with St. Paul when he writes, "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us."

Christians can not claim sinlessness. We know that we are sinners, but we do believe that it is wrong to legalise a form of sexual sin by law and put it on par with the biblically condoned position of heterosexual, monogamous marriage.

I no men and women who have committed adultery ( or are doing so now). I do not hate them for that, but I can not say "what your doing is OK or good" because it is not. Sex outside of marriage is sin. I do not hate the single men and women I work with that are engaged in sex outside of marriage. But when the subject has come up in our conversations, I have not dodged the issue. They all know what I believe and why and we are still friends. None of them believe that I hate him or her. I don't try to brow beat my friends and I don't march around them with a sign saying "Turn or Burn" either.

I pray for my friends. I pray that the Lord would give them the grace to repent and turn from their sinful lifestyles.

I am a sinner. I sin daily, one way or an other, in thought, word and deed. I sin positively when I do, think are say sinful things. I also sin by not always doing, thinking or saying what I should say.

Where is the "hate?"
Disagreement does not equate to hate. As I said before it is dangerous to teach that opposing "gay marriage" equals hate. Many in the Gay Rights movement believe that disagreement on the issue is a form of hate. That is, at best fallacious, thinking. It is impossible to reason with someone who is unreasonable and equates disagreement with hate.

I am sure Rick Warren prays for gay people. He would have to deny the Scriptures and the Christian Faith to do otherwise.

Coram Deo,

Saturday, December 06, 2008

For many decades the political left and Hollywood elite have laboured to convince us that homosexuality is a legitimate and acceptable lifestyle. This issue, like abortion, sets much of the the political left and most of Hollywood in opposition to what we know to be "traditional moral values" and the teachings of the historic Christian faith.

The Western world is presently in a cultural civil war. The Christian Faith played a major part in the foundation and development of Western Civilization. But today much of the cultural leadership of the West has abandoned the Christian faith and are they are hostile to the faith that we have inherited in the West through the Church of Jesus Christ.

I just watched a video on the web titled Prop 8: The Musical. It stars a number of Hollywood heavyweights including Jack Black and John C. Reilly. The musical equates opposition to legalization of homosexual marriage to hate. Reilly joins the musical by singing, "Look no body's watching. It's time to spread some hate and put it in the constitution." How is hate to be put in the constitution? By voting for Proposition 8. The Proposition has now passed and it did away with California's judicially imposed legalization of homosexual marriage.

According to this little musical that if you hold to the traditional Christian position, and oppose the legalization of homosexual marriage, you are now, according to much of the left and Hollywood, a promoter of hate. I assume Christians also promote hate when the speak-out (in a proper godly manner) against adultery, bestiality, and other forms of sex outside of marriage which we belief to is between a man and a woman.

I know people who are adulterers, I have unmarried friends who engage in sex outside of matrimony, and I know people who are homosexual. I think all three of these types of sexual activity are, according to the Bible and the Christin Faith, to be sinful and they condemned by the Word of God. I would oppose any attempt by the state support any of these sexual activities by sanctioning them in law.

Does this mean that I hate my friends who are engaged in sexual activity that the Bible condemns as sinful? Certainly not. I disagree with the sexual lifestyles of many people that I consider to be close friends. I do not hate them, even though I believe sex outside of marriage is a sin.

Political and social disagreement does not come close to implying hate, however these days disagreement with the political and cultural left is not allowed by many on that side of the cultural divide. For me to have a philosophical, theological, cultural or political disagreement with many on the left is, from their perspective, a form of hate.

That is scary, because you don't tend to communicate very well with people that you believe "hate" you. Since the French Revolution, it has been fairly common for left wingers when they come to power, to support the elimination of those that philosophically oppose your believe system. The left wing French revolutionaries killed tens of thousands of those in France with whom they disagreed with. Beginning in 1917, the left wing Russians did the same thing, as did the Nazis, who held to a twisted, nationalistic form of left wing (socialistic) thought.

Equating philosophical or political disagreement with hate is very dangerous for any society. Today, in the United States, an important segment of the political and cultural left have crossed that perilous line. That is very scary. Such rhetoric tends to bring an end to civil disagreements, and can bring destroy thoughtfulness and the ability to sound reason. It can also lead to blood shed.

Like I said, it is a very scary turn in the the Culture Cold War that is raging around us.

As to hate, Christians are sinners. There is no sin or sinful lifestyle out here that some Christian has not been guilty of or is even know struggling with. We are all sinners before God. We all need forgiveness. Every Christian in the world has to repent of a multitude of sins every day. Many Christians have been involved in many forms of sexual sin, many more struggle with some type of sexual sin daily.

I do not hate those promoting sinful lifestyles, what I do is pray for my fellow man, who like me is made in the image of God, and like me needs to repent and turn to the forgiveness that is to be found in Christ alone.

Coram Deo,

Saturday, November 29, 2008

My eldest son is (as far as I know) now in the Middle East and will be flying over the wars zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a family we have been praying for our military personnel fighting in those two countries for years. I have a number of friends who have children that have served on the ground in those countries.

I am thankful that my son is not (as far as I know) on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan, but he will be flying above them in an airplane that is more vulnerable than most, and I am concerned for his safety. I am also very proud of him and what he is doing.

I want the wars to end and for all our service personnel to come home. We should never have gone to war in Iraq, but we went to war there and tried to fight the war on the cheap.

Attempting to do something on the cheap usually fails and makes things much more expensive. That is what happened in Iraq. We won the war but tried to do the post war on the cheap. The government did not want to send enough troops there to do the "peace" correctly, so we are still there and we have paid for it with the body and blood of too many young men and women.

We had to go into Afghanistan, 9/11 left us no alternative, but again we never put enough people on the ground there to get the job done right. This is mostly because we started an unnecessary war in Iraq. I pray that we can finish one and then get the job done right in the other, so that we can bring our people home.

I hope our new leaders do what is right and not settle for what is politically expedient. I can hope, but I'm not overly optimistic.

Coram Deo,

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Episcopal Bishop of Fort Worth has taken a stand against the heterodox teachings (i.e. heresies) that long ago became the norm The Episcopal Church in the U.S. (TEC). Bishop Jack Iker issued an open letter titled: We Are Contending for the Faith

It is a good letter and it is encouraging to see that there are still godly believers in that once great/orthodox denomination, which today support boldly what God denies (e.g. abortion, homosexuality) and opposes what the Scriptures deny.

I hope you will read some Bishop Iker's letter below:

Our Diocese believes in salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. TEC believes there are many ways to salvation and that all religions lead to God.

Our Diocese believes in the authority of Holy Scripture in all matters of faith and morals. TEC believes the Bible needs to be revised and adapted to meet the changing culture and that it may mean different things in different social contexts.

Our Diocese believes that the essentials of the Christian Faith have been revealed once and for all in the teachings of Jesus Christ and are not subject to change. TEC believes in a revisionist approach that says only the votes of successive General Conventions can determine doctrinal and faith issues for Episcopalians as times change.

Our Diocese believes that all ordained clergy are under the obligation to model in their own lives the received teaching of the Church that all its members are to abstain from sexual relations outside Holy Matrimony. TEC believes that active homosexuals and bisexuals ?should be ordained to the sacred ministry of bishops, priests and deacons.

Our Diocese believes that marriage is the exclusive physical and spiritual union of one man and one woman for life. TEC believes same sex relationships are good and holy and should be blessed and celebrated.

Our Diocese believes in the sacredness of human life from conception. TEC affirms abortion on demand.

Our Diocese stands with the vast majority of Anglicans around the world. TEC is a declining body and very much out of the mainstream of orthodox Christianity, both here and abroad.

Most liberal (mainline) Protestant Churches are aligned with the TEC in promoting heresy and immorality. As in TEC there is a minority of stalwarts in the other liberal churches that have been fighting a loosing battle against the growth of the antichrist ideas like those above shown to be held by TEC.

I pray for these godly brethren. I don't believe their fight will not be for much longer. TEC loss over 13% of its membership in the last ten years. All the liberal mainline churches are also in decline. They are going the way of the dodo bird - to extinction.

Coram Deo,
PS. Emphasis is mine

Monday, November 10, 2008

In the presidential my own state (Louisiana) supported John McCain. I have very high regard for Senator McCain for his military service, for his courage as a POW in Hanoi, and for some of his actions in the U.S. Senate, especially is position own earmarks.

However, when I entered the poll both I did not vote for Senator McCain. Instead I followed my conscience and voted for Congressman Ron Paul. I knew that he did not have a chance to win any state, my own included, but I agree with him on most issues.

I do disagree with Paul on Iran. I think he was correct on the invasion of Iraq - we did not have a lawful reason to go to war with Iraq. But after the invasion I believe that we have a duty to finish what we started. To have pulled out Iraq and leave them in chaos would have been immoral and brought about more bloodshed.

The main point that I disagree Senator McCain on is I find him to ready to go military. I disagreed with him on our taking the lead in the Balkans and on the invasion of Iraq.

I do believe that McCain was a better choice than Obama. McCain is a true American hero and I wish him all the best. He is a great American, but I voted for the paleo-con/libertarian because I that is where I am in my own political philosophy. I am a Christian libertarian/ paleo-conservative.

Coram Deo,

Saturday, November 08, 2008

As a theologically conservative Christian, I was not able to vote for Barack Obama in the Presidential election. Obama' views on abortion and gay rights made voting for him an impossibility for me and millions of other Christians (Catholic, Protestant, etc...)

While I could not vote for Obama, he has been elected President of the United States, and as a Christian I know that his election is ordained by God for His purposes. St. Paul wrote this about our relation ship to those whom God has placed to rule over us, "Let every soul be in subjection to the higher powers: for there is no power but of God; and the powers that be are ordained of God. Therefore he that resisteth the power, withstandeth the ordinance of God: and they that withstand shall receive to themselves judgment. For rulers are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. And wouldest thou have no fear of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise from the same: for he is a minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is a minister of God, an avenger for wrath to him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be in subjection, not only because of the wrath, but also for conscience' sake." (Rom. 13:1-5)

When Paul wrote these words Nero Caesar was leader of the Roman world in which lived. No, I'm not comparing Barack to Nero. But if the Apostle Paul could say these things to Christians about an evil ruler like Nero, than certainly it is true of all rulers, including American presidents.

In Paul's letter to Timothy we read, "I exhort therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all men; for kings and all that are in high place; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity." It's the duty of American Christians to lift him up in prayer.

I believe that Obama will work support issues (abortion and gay rights) that I believe to be evil. We, as Christians, can not approve of such actions, but Christians can and should pray for him and his presidency so "that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity." Paul goes on to say, "This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth."

We need to pray for Barack Obama and all others who are in authority over us. We need to pray for him to our Lord about how he governs ans we need to pray for his soul as well.

Coram Deo,

I've been working an awful lot of hours and have not had much of a chance to read very much. But I did read a little bit and the most striking thing that I've read recently is an article in First Things titled The Death of Protestant America: A Political Theory of the Protestant Mainline. The article discusses the decline of the once culturally dominant "mainline" Protestant churches such as the Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, etc...

The older, larger versions of these churches long ago went "liberal" theologically. They preach a social gospel and they long ago gave up on preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Because they have abandoned the faith on which they were founded, millions of Americans have left their ranks for Churches that still promote Biblical Christiansity or left the Christian faith for non-faith or cults. These mainline churches have been hemorrhaging members for decades.

While they make the news when ordaining an active homosexual to the office of bishop, or debating "gay marriage" they have lost the cultural clout that they once had in this land. Today they are just shrill voices on the far left.

I know there are many solid Christian people in those denominations, who have been fighting the liberal drift and working to restore the biblical foundations of those once great denominations. I pray for these Christian. And my heart goes out to them, but I will not weep when these mostly apostate churches disapear completely.

It is sad, but so many of them have ceased to be Churches of Christ they have lost there reason to exist at all.

Coram Deo,

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I grew up in the rural and suburban South during the 1960's and 70's. When I was a young child we were poor and as I grew our economic circumstances slowly improved. By the time I graduated from high school my family was blue collar and middle class. In Louisiana, at that time, was just starting to have a bit of a two party system, but if you were blue collar, poor or middle class there was only one party to join and that was the Democratic Party.

In 1976, though still too you to vote, I was a Jimmy Carter supporter. By 1980 I was 20 and in the U.S. Navy. I did not vote in the presidential election that year. I spent election day on the USS Francis Hammond (FF 1067) somewhere in the Gulf of Oman near the coast of Iran. Though I was a solid Democrat I was disgusted with Carter and hoped that Ronald Reagan would win the election, which of course he did.

I left the Navy in 1982, came back to Louisiana and dutifully voted Democratic, except for Presidential elections. In the mid-eighties I was working as a helper at one of the local refineries and one of the men I worked with was very active politically and had been a delegate to the last Democratic National Convention. He had a copy of the party platform, he loaned it to me so that I could read it.

I took the document home determined to learn more about my political party and it's official stand on the issues. I was shocked by what I read. I was not politically savvy but I knew I had strong disagreements with what I read in the Democratic Presidential Platform.

The very next time that I had a day off from work, I went and changed my party affiliation from Democrat to Republican. I still voted democrat in most local races, but I was paying more attention to politics. My voting pattern slowly became more consistently Republican than Democrat, but I have never reached the point where I voted strictly the party line.

When the Republicans took over Congress I was hoping that they would live up to the better aspects of their rhetoric. I was sorely disappointed. The disappointment increased all the more after George W. Bush became President. It became clear that though the cut of meat might be different the Republicans were just as good at dishing out the pork as the Democrats had been.

Four years ago my family moved to a new home, our voting district changed so I had to register in the new district. Disgusted by the Republican performance, I once again changed party affiliation. I left the Republican party and today I'm registered independent and I have a low view of the political hacks in both parties.

In the up coming election I will not vote for Senator Obama. The social liberal views that he and his party (on the national level) still support are still the ones I left the party for over twenty years ago.

The question is: Can I vote for McCain?

I am struggling with that. There are somethings I like about McCain, but there are other things that I have VERY big problems with as well. I've voted for third party candidates before, so what about this year? I don't know yet.

I consider myself to be a paleoconservative or Christian libertarian. So I am against both Democratic and Republican versions of centralised big government. Democrates are atleast more honest. They admit that they like big government. The Republicans have shown that they speak against big government, but when in power they work to make it bigger and centralise more power in Washington.

I hope for divided government. If one party controls the executive and the other party controls congress they tend to do less, which means they do less harm.

Coram Deo,

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Thoughts About New Orleans

The parts of New Orleans that flooded during Katrina, was built on drained swamps that required a levee to keep the waters of Lake Pontchartrain from filling back in. The Old part of the city was built on the natural levee that was built up over the centuries by the Mississippi River.

The flooding like that of Katrina had happened before, for example, the Crescent City had similar flooding after Hurricane Betsy in 1965. The big difference then was the city then still had a viable middle class, which was mostly independent self reliant. That middle class mostly disappeared long ago and has been replaced by people who have been dependent on the welfare state.

New Orleans was a great tragedy and the loss of human life was horrible and terrible and this kind of tragedy should never happen again in that city. For New Orleans to survive as a major American city this sort of catastrophy must be made a near impossibility. She will need to have levees and locks that are state of the art and on par with what is found in a place like Holland. If that is not done than the city should shrink to the higher ground in the older parts of the city which are nearer the River.

For much of my childhood and early teens I lived 20 miles up river of the city and we too lived between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain on high ground near the River. After about a mile from the river the high ground disappeared and the back swamp began and the swamp continued all the way to the lake, jast as was once found in Orleans Parish.

New Orleans needs two things to once again be a great city. It needs good levees and locks and just as importantly it needs a population that is more middle class and self reliant.

Coram Deo,

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Tomorrow morning my family and I will wake, eat breakfast, dress and then go to worship at Bethel Presbyterian Church (PCA). We will join other believers at Bethel to worship the true and living God. While we are worshipping at Bethel our Christian brethren will be worshipping at other Christian congregations throughout the city, state, country, world and before the the face of God in Paradise.

Here on earth some Christians will worship God in Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Baptist, Reformed and many other types of Christian assemblies. I am in more agreement in doctrinal issues with some Christians and I'm in less agreement on doctrines with others, but if they hold to the basic doctrines taught in the Nicene or Apostles Creeds they are Christian and worship the Triune God of the Bible.

I know many Protestants who deny that A Roman Catholic can be saved, and I've known Catholics who denied that any Protestant or Orthodox could be saved. Pope Boniface VIII is one who comes to mind, of course he was before the Protestant Reformation, but if you read his Unam Sanctam its clear that he would believe them damned.

I've had arguments about religion, but it has been some time since I've argued religion. I discuss religion a good bit, but I don't argue or fight over religion. It is not good to become angry and fight with a fellow Christian about the Christian faith. It is also a horrible witness to the world which desperately needs to know the God of the Scriptures and His Christ.

There are points of doctrine on which Baptists and I disagree. The same is true when it comes to the teachings of the Catholics, Lutherans, Assemblies of God, and even Presbyterians. I enjoy discussions about these differences, but I always try to remember that I am discussing these differences with my Christian brethren. I am commanded in the Scriptures to be loving and patient with my brethren with whom I disagree.

I did not always try to "discuss" in a godly manner. I used to enjoy a little heat when discussing the differences with other Christians, but I have seen much damage done to Christians and to the testimony of the faith by all out wars within denominations and between them.

We Christians need to be just as serious about the Bible's teaching regarding loving the brethren and being patient and loving toward one another.

Coram Deo,

Monday, August 04, 2008

I first read Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago while I was serving in the USN. I knew I was reading an important, great work. Some years later I read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, another important book.

Solzhenitsyn was a Christian man how was a sound critic of both Soviet communism and Western materialism.

He will be missed.

Coram Deo,

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Thomas Jefferson, in 1816, wrote about his view of the Union to then Secretary of War (soon to be Sec. of the Treasury) William Crawford, “If any State in the Union will declare that it prefers separation with the first alternative, to a continuance in union without it, I have no hesitation in saying “let us separate." I would rather the States should withdraw which are for unlimited commerce and war, and confederate with those alone which are for peace and agriculture.”

These views were not new to Jefferson. We see this same understanding in 1798, while he was serving as Vice-president as the United States. In that year Jefferson wrote what has come to be known as the Kentucky Resolutions, which were written in response to the Alien and Sedition Acts.

In 1804 he wrote the following in a letter to Dr. Joseph Priestley, “Whether we remain in one confederacy, or form into Atlantic and Mississippi confederacies, I believe not very important to the happiness of either part. Those of the Western confederacy will be as much our children and descendants as those of the Eastern, and I feel myself as much identified what that country, in future time. As with this: and did I now foresee a separation at some future day, yet I should feel the duty and the desire to promote the Western interests as zealously as the Eastern, doing all the good for both portions of our future family which should fall within my power.” This was written because of secession talk due to the Louisiana Purchase.

Again in 1820 Jefferson wrote on this topic again because of sectional friction because of debate over Missouri. He wrote, “The experiment of separation would soon prove to both that they had mutually miscalculated their best interests. And even were the parties in Congress to secede in a passion, the soberer people would call a convention and cement again the severance attempted by the insanity of their functionaries.” This was written former U.S. Attorney General Richard Rush. Notice, Jefferson did not think that secession at this time to be wise nor that it would last long, but he certainly believed it a viable/legal option.

On matters of religion, I differ with Jefferson at many points, because I hold to orthodox Christianity and Jefferson had rejected the Christian faith. On political issues I stand much closer to Jefferson. I am for true constitutional federalism (which was lost in 1865), and also limited government (which was lost in 1865, mostly regained after that for a time and now almost completely disappeared again and forgotten).

Deo Vindice,

Monday, July 28, 2008

The idea of secession is something I written about on this forum a number of times. It is not something that I was planning on writing about again, but in the last few days the subject has come up on Christian Forums and on a couple of my favourite blogs. So I want to make just a few brief comments on the subject.

I would like to know what my anti-secessionists friends thought of the secession movements that were supported in Eastern Europe in the last few decades?

Was it wrong for Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine, Byelorussia, Georgia, etc... to seceded from the Soviet Union?

If so why did the U.S. support these acts of secession.

We also supported many areas of Yugoslavia in their bids to break with that country. Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia all seceded from Yugoslavia and we supported them. We even sent troops to help them do so.

Our governments latest support for secession was when Kosovo broke with Serbia just last February.

Would we support a Canadian war on Quebec if the people there voted to break with Canada?

What about the Scots. What if they were to seceded from the U.K.?

Both of these peoples have strong secession movements and secesssion for either or both lands is very possible. The right to secession is an important aspect of liberty. I am for liberty and freedom. I do believe secession is a big and very serious deal and should not be something that we do over minor issues, but if it is off the table we are not truly a FREE people.

You can read about my views on secession and our own U.S. Constitution at the two following links:
Secession Discussion

The Constitution and Secession

Deo Vindice,

Ps. Here is part of a post I recently wrote on Christian Forums, "Now back to the point. Was secession legal? Yes. Was it just for the North to make war on the South for opting for independence from the USA as in then existed. I say NO. It was an unlawful war. It was a war of aggression by the North and a war of defence by the Southern states.

"If Quebec were to seceded from Canada would it be lawful for Canada to force Quebec to re-join by invasion and war?

"What if the Scots were to opt to leave the UK. Should England make them stay in the union by killing several hundred thousand Scottish defenders?I think the Southern understanding of the Constitution and States Rights is what was accomplished by ratifying the Constitution in 1788. The War brought an end to the Federation that was formed by the Constitution We no longer say, 'These United States are' and now say 'The United States is.' That is a radical/revolutionary change in our form of Government. It was accomplished by Lincoln and 600,000 men killed and the South laid waste for 80 years.

"God has determined this to be, just as he determined that Babylon should destroy sinful Judah. The winner is not necessarily the more just, though it is part of God's righteous judgement. The South did practice an unbiblical form of race based slavery. The Lord ended that system in a horrific way. That is as it is.

"Does this mean that Southern secession was therefore wrong? No. Southern secession was lawful and that is a very different discussion than the discussion of slavery."

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Some years ago I got into an email debate with a Baptist friend about Christians drinking alcohol. It was an interesting discussion, but it was also an eye opener for me. My friend is a conservative, independent Baptist but in our debate he resorted to arguments that are more in line with liberalism.

I believe that the Bible (Old and New Testament) clearly allows for the people of God to drink wine and "strong drink."

My Baptist friend, who believes that the Bible is the Word of God, used very twisted logic to try and argue that wine in the Bible, when used by God’s people, was only grape juice and not an alcoholic beverage.

When pressed about his position with Scripture, my friend switched his argument from "the Bible" to “social” reasons for Christians not to use alcohol. He argued that it was a “bad witness” to drink a beer or wine in front of a non-believer or an alcoholic.

I have found that many of my conservative, Protestant Christian, brethren that hold to “abstinence only” often use liberal "like" reasoning and make “social” arguments when defending their position that Christians should not drink alcohol.

In this discussion with my friend it became clear that his “biblical” arguments could not and did not hold water; neither did his “social” argument, so he soon bowed out of the discussion, saying that we would have to agree to disagree.

I was disappointed by the way the discussion turned out, but I was not surprised. It had happened before, when I’ve discussed this issue with conservative Christians who are opposed to wine, beer, etc... Sadly, most conservative Protestants don’t know what the Bible actually says on this subject. They also don’t know anything about their own Protestant history.

Let's look at this issue in American history:

Q: Why did the Pilgrims settle at Plymouth?
A: They were running low on beer, and other food, but “especially our beer.”

Here is a quote from Pilgrim leader, William Bradford, "So, in the morning, after we had called on GOD for direction, we came to this resolution, To go presently ashore again; and to take a better view of two places which we thought most fitting for us. For we could not now take time for further search or consideration: our victuals being much spent, especially our beer; and it being now the 20th of December."

Beer is an important part of America’s history, even the history of conservative, Protestant, Americans.

I had a few cold beers today after mowing the lawn. God is so good to give us such wonderful gifts like beer and wine.

Coram Deo,

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Philip Melanchthon is one of my heroes of the time of the Protestant Reformation. Phillip was one of the great minds of his day. He, like Martin Bucer, was a reformer who managed to be held in high regard by friend and foe alike.

Melachthon was, for his on day, a man far ahead of his time. Philip was not willing to compromise on essential issues, but he was always looking for ways to bring about unity and for ways to fix the shattered church. Philip was Luther's right hand man, but he was very unlike Luther in many ways. Luther could be violent and ugly in his polemical writings, while Melanchthan tended to be polite and kind to those he was arguing against.

Philip's view on the Eucharist was closer to Calvin's position than it was to Luther's position, and Philip work with Calvin to bring the Reformed and Lutheran Churches together. Both of these men were willing to bend on non-essentials for the sake of greater unity. Both of these men were vehemently attacked by doctrianal (hyper) purists for this work of unity.

Things do not change. There are theologians today who are willing to split hairs and divide and spout anathemas at all who disagree with their subsection of split haired doctrine. We need more Melanchthons today.

Coram Deo,


Monday, June 09, 2008


Every few years I take a test similar to the Political Compass test and I have consistently landed in the same place:

I am a slightly right/libertarian. I believe this is becuse I am a conservative Christian who believes that the state is controlled by fallen men, so it must be limited in authority. The state can not stop all evil, but it does have limited authority which comes from God.The state is only one of the institutions established by God. The family is the most basic of God ordained institutions, church and state are also God ordained as or other institutions. All authoritative institutions are limited in authority, therefore we have liberty to do what is right and good.

Take the test.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

I am, obviously, a Cajun descended from the Acadians exiled from Acadia (modern Nova Scotia) in the 1750's. On this blog I mostly write about how I view religion and history, but a major part of who I am is my South Louisiana heritage. It is a cultural Gumbo, influenced by many that has grown out of the coming together of many cultures. Acadian, French, Spanish, African, German, etc.... The dominate culture was, until the mid 20th century, mostly Acadian/French with strong African/French undercurrents. Music is important part of our Culture.

Our native language (Cajun/Creole) was systematically attacked for most of the 20th century, until it has been almost destroyed. I know more French than most of my generation and I am very far from fluent. My parents, like most parent of my peers, did not teach us French, because they had been punished for speaking French and were made to be ashamed of the language when they attended school. If you spoke French on the school grounds, even if you knew no English, you were punished.

I pray and work for it's renaissance of our almost lost language.

Here are some links to examples of cajun/Creole Zydeco music on You Tube:

Some more modern Cajun/Creole music:

This is just a very small sample of South Louisiana music. Laissez les Bon Temps Rouler

Coram Deo,

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Pope Julius II (reign 1503- 1513) is more popularly remembered as the “Warrior Pope.” His given name is Giuliano della Rovere and he was born in 1543. He was educated by the Franciscans and entered the priesthood.In 1471 his uncle Francesco became Pope Sixtus IV. After his uncle took the Chair of Peter, and in the same year, young Giuliano became first and bishop and then a cardinal in the Church.

Pope Julius had only one child, a daughter named Felice. The mother of his daughter was Lucrezia Normanni. To his credit, Julius was very unlike his predecessor Alexander VI, because he did not use his high office to aggrandize his child.Even though Cardinal della Rovere had an affair that produced a daughter, there were persistent rumors that he was also a homosexual. These rumors endured while he was pope and there is circumstantial evidence that appear to give credence regarding the accuracy of those rumors.

As Pope, Julius was interested in expanding the secular dominions of the Papacy. He spent much of time as pope at war and involved in political intrigues. He had his mind set on expanding his earthly kingdom and not on forwarding the Gospel and Kingdom of Christ. The Pope was, at times, a better military leader than his generals and was happy to lead a siege to over take a castle are city that he wanted subdued. The French King, James I, said to in a conversation to Pope Leo X, "Holy Father, Do not wonder that all these were the enemies of Pope Julius, because he was our (i.e. France) chief enemy, and we have not known in our time a more terrible adversary in war than Pope Julius; for he was in truth a most skilful captain and would have made a better general of an army than a pope of Rome."

Julius, as pope, was constantly involved in intrigues and creating alliances against his enemies. His first target was the city of Venice, because it stood in the way of his expansionist ideas. When Venice was defeated, he formed new alliances to attack France, whom he had allied with to make war on Venice. When the expenses of war had nearly exhausted his treasury Julius created new Cardinals who paid handsomely for the positions and thereby allowed him to continue his militaristic ambitions.

Julius II was Pope when Luther visited Rome, sent there on a mission by his Augustinian order. When Luther came to Rome he found corrupt and decadent city and a pope far more interested in worldly kingdoms than in the Kingdom of our Lord.During the Pontificate of Julius II there were, as was ever common, calls for “reform” of the church just as there had been for hundreds of years before, but Julius, while he might wink at the idea, and even called a council, was not interested in spiritual reform.

Resentment, do to the ever present and growing corruptions, had been building for so long, a reaction was bound to occur. ItIn the years of the Pope that who followed Julius II the Western Church explode and divided into schism, reform, and revolution. The next pope was Leo X and Luther's Ninety-five Theses was the spark that ignited the conflagration.

Coram Deo,

Friday, April 04, 2008

Pope Alexander VI was Pope from 1492 -1503. He was a Pope with no less than four illegitimate children. These four children were born of his long time mistress, Vannozza dei Cattanei, and were all born while he served as a Cardinal in the Church.

Pope Alexander’s main goal as Pope was to secure high places in the world for His children. His most famous child, Cesare Borgia, was originally to be a prince in the Church, so he was made bishop at the age of 15 and, after his father became Pope, he became a cardinal. He was, at that time, only eighteen. Cesare was a strong military leader, and with his father, the Pope's, assistance, he spent the majority of his father's pontificate fighting wars to extend the secular territory Papacy and power his and his fathers power.

Adultery, intrigue and murder were not unknown to the Papacy of Alexander VI. It is probable that he was involved in the death of a Cardinal now and then. He was suspected of playing a part in the poisoning death of one of them from time to time. When a Cardinal died he ceased their assets. So the death af a Cardinal was profitable for Alexander. He also made a good many Cardinals as well. The office, then, was for sale and Pope Alexander VI made a good income this way as well.

As Pope, Alexander took a new mistress, Giulia Farnese, who was the wife of another man. Alexander had a daughter by Guilia, while he was the Bishop of Rome. Guilia was referred to as “the Pope’s whore” and (more tongue-in-cheek) “the bride of Christ.”

When Alexander became Pope, Giovanni di Lorenzo dé Medici, the future Pope Leo X, said, "Now we are in the power of a wolf, the most rapacious perhaps that this has ever seen. And if we do not flee, he will inevitably devour us all.”

Pope Julius II, who gained the Papal throne in 1503, said, in a Papal Bull, “Our predecessor desiring to enrich his own kin, through no zeal for Justice, but by fraud and deceit sought for causes….”

After the death of Alexander, his many schemes collapsed and Cesare lost his land’s in Italy. Four years after his father’s death, he was killed at the siege of Viana, while fighting for his brother-in-law the King of Navarre. Cesare was thirty-one.

Pope Alexander is an example of the corruption and decadence that had become the Church at Rome. It is this Church that men, such as Erasmus, complained of in their just criticisms. Luther like Erasmus saw the corruption at Rome first hand.

I think such insight about the corruptions of that time, helps us to understand, just a little better, about the context of the then approaching storm that we call the Protestant Reformation.

Coram Deo,

Thursday, April 03, 2008

A MUST Read Article

Read this article in the National Review about Islam's Public Enemy #1 by Raymond Ibrahim. If you are a Christian, and pray for the salvation of Muslims, this article will thrill your soul.

The article is about a Coptic Priest who is seen on Arabic television by millions of Muslims. Takes this time to compare Islam to the Christian Faith and the Koran to the Bible. He is a native of Egypt and his first language is that same as Arabs to whom he is speaking.

President Bush want to give Arabs democracy, but Father Zakaria Botros is offering them something much more important than Western democracy. He is offering them the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Coram Deo,

Saturday, March 29, 2008

One of the blogs I go to often is by a fellow from North Louisiana. It is Opinionated Catholic (OC). James (the writer of OC) wrote a response to a couple of my blogs (Luther and Rome and Erasmus and Folly) and titled it Martin Luther- Saint or Villian or a Bit of Both? -Intro. I think it is worth reading and I hope I can comment on it soon. I am also looking forward to the second installment.

OC is a Louisiana blog that is worth visiting often.


Friday, March 28, 2008

Luther and Erasmus


Erasmus was a strong and biting critic of the corruptions in the Western Church in the years prior to the outbreak of the Protestant Reformation. Erasmus was an a Monk and a priest, but most of his life was spent in academic study and translations. He did much to make the Greek New Testament available in the West.

Martin Luther certainly benefited from Erasmus, who did much to lay the groundwork for the coming reform. Luther's Ninety-five Theses touched on matters and corruptions that Erasmus had also written about. When the storm broke on Luther, Erasmus was sympathetic to Luther and what he was saying. In 1519 he wrote in a letter to Luther:

"My Dearest Brother in Christ, — Your letter in which you show no less your truly Christian spirit than your great abilities, was extremely acceptable to me. I have no words to tell you what a sensation your writings have caused here. It is impossible to eradicate from people's minds the utterly false suspicion that I have had a hand in them, and that I am the ringleader in this faction, as they call it. Some thought an opportunity had been given them of extinguishing literature, for which they cherish the most deadly hatred, because they are afraid it will cloud the majesty of their divinity, which many of them prize before Christianity. The evil weapons which they use are vociferation, rash assertion, tricks, detraction, and calumny. I have assured them I have never read your books, and that I therefore neither sanction nor condemn anything you have said. I have advised them not to bellow so fiercely in public before reading your books, especially when the author's life is universally well spoken of; but all to no purpose. You have friends in England, and among them men of the greatest eminence, who think most highly of your writings. Even here there are some who favor you. There is at Antwerp a prior of a monastery, a man of pure Christian life, who loves you immensely; he declares he was once a disciple of yours. He is almost the only one who preaches Christ; the rest generally preach either human fables or their own gain."

Time and again Erasmus defended Luther to high ranking officials in both Church and state, but he was always careful to keep himself outside of the tempest that raged around Luther. Let's look at some of Erasmus' early letters concerning Luther.

As early as December 1517 in a letter to Wolsey, Lord Chancellor of King Henry VIII and also a Cardinal in the Church, he wrote "The life of this man is universally praised. Even his enemies find nothing to condemn..."

In 1519 he wrote to Cardinal Archbishop Albrecht, of Mainz: "I do not see that any honest man takes the least offense at his writings. I say not that everything is assented to, but that he is read in the same spirit with which we read Cyprian or Jerome; that is, taking much with indulgence. I neither condemn nor vindicate him. Even his enemies praise him as an upright man. Finally, I believe it is Christian to wish Luther well in his way, that if he is innocent he should not be put down by the rabbles of the bad; but if he errs he should be put right, not destroyed. For that is more in accord with the pattern of Christ, who, as the prophet says, will not break the broken reed. I wish that every breast in which there is a spark of evangelical doctrine be not crushed, but instructed, and brought back fully to proclaim the honor of Christ."

In a 1519 letter to Philip Melanchthon, Luther’s protegee, he wrote, “Everybody finds Luther's life blameless; concerning his doctrine there is a difference of opinion. While it becomes those learned in divine things to instruct, now it is quite otherwise; for they compel, they destroy, they wipe out. They wish that Luther be imprisoned and destroyed. They are more like hangmen than men instructed of God."

As time progressed, Luther responded to those who wished "that Luther be imprisoned and destroyed" with growing ferocity. Violent language flew from Catholics and Protestants alike and Luther was right there with them and at times leading the pack in vehemence. As time progressed Erasmus and Luther grew apart. The agreed on the corruptions of the Church at their time, but as the break became more and more apparent, Erasmus stood back from the fray.

In the 1520's he and Luther finally crossed swords on the doctrine of predestination and free will. In 1524 Erasmus wrote De libero arbitrio diatribe sive collatio (Freedom of the Will or The Diatribe). Luther responed with the great work from the period on the doctrine of Predestination titled, The Bondage of the Will.

In 1526 Erasmus reponded to Luther. In the doctrinal debate I agree with Luther on this issue, but I also believe that Erasmus is correct in his response when he wrote, "Your bitterness in writing, your itch for calumniation, your biting jokes and mockeries against all who do not receive your dogmas, make us to miss in you the Spirit of Christ." In this criticism of Luther, Erasmus is correct. Luther, by the tone and anger in his writtings, did much to damage the good that he sought to accomplish.

Luther was not the only one guilty of having an ungodly and violent tone in his writings, such was the case for many of the "Christians" on all sides. The tone of the polemicists then did much to damage the cause of Christ at the time. The same is no less true today!

We have far less of an excuss when we are ugly to others when we're engaged in doctrinal "discussions" with those who disagree with us. We MUST be longsuffering with those within the Church with whom we disagree. Doctrinal dissagreement is a very poor reason to attack a brother or sister in Christ, not to mention an unbeliever in need of Christ's salvation.

Coram Deo,

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Erasmus and Folly

Erasmus of Rotterdam was the great Christian Humanist prior to the start of the Reformation. He was a brilliant scholar and linguist. He was also one of the most influential critics of the corruptions of the Western Church and though he remained in the Catholic Church, his writings certainly laid the ground work for the coming divide.

Erasmus' most famous work, The Praise of Folly was written partly on his travel from Rome to England and finished while he was staying with his friend Thomas More (later to be saint). It was written in 1509 and published in 1511, six years before Luther's 95 Theses.

Folly is personified in the book. Here is a quote from Folly about the leaders of the Church. In the quote Folly takes some strong swipes at the then Pope, Julius II.

"If the cardinals claim to be successors to the apostles, they should consider that the same things are required of them as their predecessors. So if the popes, being the vicars of Christ, endeavored to emulate His life, His labors, His teachings, His cross, His contempt of the world ; if they thought of their name of pope, that is father, and their title Most Holy, — what more afflicted beings would there be on earth? Who, in that case, would purchase the post with all his fortune, and when purchased keep it with his sword, with poison, and with violence [a dig at Julius II and other popes of the time] ?

If wisdom stepped in, what abasement would be theirs! Wisdom, did I say? Nay, one grain of that salt of which Christ speaks. Their wealth, their honors, their riches, and their pleasures would all be gone, and in their place would be studies, sermons, prayers, tears, vigils, fastings, and a thousand miserable labors of the same kind. Neither should we forget what would follow: a whole host of clerks, notaries, advocates, secretaries, of muleteers, grooms, and serving-men (I might add other words which would shock modest ears) would be reduced to famine.

The princes of the Church would be reduced to scrip and staff! Thanks to my [Folly's] influence, there is scarcely any kind of people who live more at their ease than do these successors of the apostles; thinking that Christ is quite satisfied if, in a mysterious theatrical costume, with their ceremonies and titles of Beatitude, Reverence, Holiness, with their blessings — and their curses — they play the part of bishops. Miracles are out of date ; teaching is laborious ; explaining the Scriptures is the employment of the schools; praying is idle ; weeping is wretched and womanly; poverty is sordid ; to be conquered in battle is unworthy of one who scarcely admits the highest kings to kiss his blessed feet ; to die is disagreeable, to be crucified is ignominious.

There remain only arms and those fair speeches of which Paul makes mention (Romans xvi, 18), and of those they are liberal enough ; to wit, interdictions, suspensions, anathemas, and that terrific thunder whereby, with a single nod, they send men's souls to farthest Tartarus.

These thunders are most eagerly launched by the Most Holy Fathers in Christ upon those who, by the instigation of the devil, endeavor to diminish the patrimony of Peter. But what says Peter in the Gospel? 'Lord, we have left all, and followed thee.' And yet they give the name of his patrimony to provinces and cities for which they fight with fire and sword; as though there were more pernicious enemies of the Church than impious pontiffs, who, by neglect of teaching, allow Christ to be forgotten, who bind by laws made for profit, adulterate by forced interpretations, and slay by a pestilent life.

And whereas war is a thing so fierce and cruel as to be more suitable to men so impious that it can not at all be reconciled with Christianity, nevertheless this is the one business to which they give their attention. Among them you will see decrepit old men [like Julius II] display the energy of a youthful spirit, deterred by no cost, fatigued by no labors, if so they can turn religion, laws, peace, and all human affairs upside down. Nor are there wanting learned flatterers who to this plain insanity give the name of zeal, of piety, and fortitude, having devised a way in which a man may draw his sword and sheath it in his brother's body, without any violation of Christ's charity."

I added the paragraph breaks. Erasmus was a fair critic of the church in his day. He was himself and ordained priest and remained such.

Coram Deo,

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Iraq and Moral Responsibility

In the pasts several months I've had discussions with three close friends in which they have told me that five years ago they were mistaken and I was correct about the then just beginning war in Iraq. These three friends were each pro-invasion. I was opposed to America's invasion of Iraq.

They, like most Americans then, believed it would be a intense but quick war and American troops would be victorious and come home. I believed that it would be a quick, perhaps blood war, but we, as I said then, would be bringing young Americans home in body-bags for the next fifty years. I still believe that this will be the case.

As bad as that is, I do believe, now that the die is cast, that the worst thing that we could do is just pickup and leave the Iraqis to their fate. By invading Iraq we have stirred up a hornets nest. The nest that we have irritated was there for everyone to see. I am certain the people in the State Department who knew Iraq's history plus ethnic and religious demographics of the country must have foreseen what is now reality there. Put the President would not listen to such people, he had made up his mind and would not be persuaded by the facts.

I saw some of it and I am certainly no expert. However, I did serve in the military and I had a fair understanding of what things were like over there. I had this understanding because of a secret briefing that I received in 1980, because I was a Navy Aircrew man, before I went on deployment to the Gulf of Oman, near the Straits of Hormuz. I remembered that briefing and had read more about Iraq, it's history and peoples since then, this gave me insights that most Americans did not have.

If I could see what would happen certainly many others in the military and State Department must have foreseen it, but those who saw the clearly were ignored and now we have been fighting brush-fires in Iraq for five years, 4,ooo American service men and women are dead and Iraq is in tatters.

The Democratic Candidates for president promise to "bring the troops home." OK. The American people "want the troops home." I believe that such a move would lead to civil war and a far greater blood bath in Iraq. An American pull out at this time would lead to a holocaust. I could also pour over Iraq's borders and destabilise other (somewhat pro-American) nations in the region.

We toppled the de facto government in Iraq and blinded by our on democratic mythology, tried to establish democracy in a land and culture unprepared for democracy. We NOW have a moral obligation to see this thing through to the end. We started it by invading the country and toppling its two-bit thug dictator.

Saddam was a murderous thug, but it is not our duty to remove thugs from power in other countries, but now that we have done the deed it would be cowardly to shrink from the obligations that we have brought on ourselves by our own free choice. It would be more immoral for us to simply up and leave Iraq now, than it is to continue there until a stable (which will not be a democracy) is established, even though it means that we will, for the foreseeable future, have to bring a handful of brave young Americans home in body-bags, as we are now doing.

We made a very bad decision. The question is do we have the moral courage and intestinal fortitude to live up to the obligations that that bad decision has put on our shoulders?

Coram Deo,

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Luther and Rome

Tonight I once again watched the movie Luther, starring Joseph Fiennes. This is a great movie and I recommend it to everyone. With that said I do have to add that it is a movie and therefore it is not to be taken has a total history of Luther or his times. But it is, I believe, a fairly accurate account of those parts of history that it touches.

Luther was a very interesting man. He was a man of great courage and conviction. He was, I believe, greatly used by God to accomplish much good. He was also a man with many faults, and those faults did much to damage and divide the same faith that he desired to see reformed.

Luther was a brilliant man and a passionate man. Much in what he wrote is wonderful to read and uplifting to the soul, but some of what he wrote is shameful and has done a great deal to blemished His name and work.

I know some Roman Catholics who despise him and count him among the worst of criminals. They see the Western Church divided into so many sects and blame Luther for those divisions. I think those who think that way have it backwards. Luther did not divide the Church and he did not bring about its division. The Church was divided by the acts of Rome.

Luther wrote his Ninety-Five Theses against the abuses then common in the sale of indulgences. The paper was not written against the Pope or Rome, in fact Luther was surprised to learn that the Pope was against what he had written. Pope Leo X was more disturbed by the loss of revenue that followed the publication of Luther’s Theses than he was by the doctrines in them. Pope Leo was using monies raised by the sale of indulgences (much of it coming from Germany) to build St. Peter’s Basilica. After Luther attacked the despicable practice of indulgences (forgiveness of sin and salvation were commodity offered by the Church for cash money) the money coming into Rome through the selling indulgences in Germany dropped off substantially.

Rome, Pope Leo, caused the breach. He, not Luther is more responsible for the initial division in the Western Church. Leo, like so many of the Renaissance Popes before him, was a corrupt man of the world who cared little for spiritual matters. Had there been a godly man seated in the Chair of St. Peter the Church would not have been torn apart.

Luther’s actions and the actions of others were in response to the wrongful response of Rome. Every person will stand before God and answer for his/her sins. Luther was a man with many faults and when he sinned he did so passionately, but he was also a man of faith who repented passionately as well. Christ’s blood covers the sins of all of us who repent (truly) and I believe Luther was such a man. I do not believe Pope Leo X was such a man. I don’t believe he will reside eternally in the same place as Luther and I believe Luther will be resurrected, even with his many failings, to eternal live in Jesus Christ.

This is not written as an anti-Roman Catholic rant. There is much about the Roman Catholic Church that I love and respect. There have even been times when I have wished that I could return to Rome (but it is not possible). I also desire to see Roman Catholics, Protestants and Eastern Christians come together and work toward Christian unity as the Scripture teach. I also believe we must call a spade a spade, but we should do so in a loving, and when possible, diplomatic way. It does none of us any good when we call the other guy’s spade a “damned shovel.”

Coram Deo,

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The internet is a great tool and I use it often. There are so many useful tools on it for study and research. When I discovered Google Book Search, I was like a child in a candy store. I love old books and they have countless numbers of old books that have been scanned and placed there to be read or downloaded and best off all is these old Public Domain books are FREE.

I’ve already downloaded dozens of books onto a flash drive so I can carry them with me anywhere and everywhere. The last latest book, downloaded from Google Books, that I’ve read was written by Henry Caswell, an Anglican minister. Caswell’s book was published in 1843 and has the lengthy title. It is The Prophet of the Nineteenth Century: or, the Rise, Progress, and Present State of the Mormons, or Latter-Day Saints, to Which is Appended an Analysis of the Book of Mormon. The book is a bit dated, but it also has some interesting insights.

It was an interesting book. Rev. Caswell actually visited with Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, Illinois before he wrote the book. I am still reading Bushman’s biography of Joseph Smith. I’m well past half way through the book. I’ve been working a lot (more than 90 hours last week), and I was working a working a unit shutdown. Caswell book is interesting and I learned some important things from it.

Reading Caswell and Bushman, as well as many other items about the Mormonism it is clear that the church is based on some very serous heretical teachings. They do use a lot of biblical language and speak of Jesus, salvation and countless other things associated with the Christian Faith, but they made a major break with the historic faith of Christianity. The Mormon Church is very much not a Christian religion. Joseph Smith invented his own religion and gave it a veneer that can be used to trick people into believing he was leading a Christian revival, when he was actually inventing a religion that was and remains opposed to true Christianity.

Coram Deo,
Ps: I'm only supposed to work 72 hours this week.

Monday, February 25, 2008

I have downloaded and read a number of really good books from Google Book Search. These downloadable books are all in public domain and are free on the web for anyone interested in getting them. One book that I've downloaded is an 1857 publication of a number of Charles Hodge's articles that had been previously published in the Princeton Review. The book is titled Essays and Reviews, it contains 18 articles and is 683 pages in length.

Dr. Hodge has been long admired as one of the great Reformed Theologians of the 19th Century. It was certainly a brilliant Christian theologian. The articles that I wish to mention here are not theological in nature, however since theology touches all of life, Hodge's theology does play an important part in how he sees the issues discussed.

Article XIV is titled "Slavery" and it is a reply William E. Channing’s 1836 book of the same name. I have read a good deal on slavery as it existed in the American South. I have read the ideas of rabid Abolitionists in the North and fanatical Southern Fire Eaters. Hodges article is, in my opinion, the best thing I've ever read on the subject from a truly biblical vantage point. Hodge stands on the biblically defendable middle ground between these two extreme positions.

In our day, the Abolitionists view is mostly taken for granted as an undeniable truth. But if the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are correct than the Abolitionists must be wrong. Does this mean Southern Slavery was biblical are justified? NO.

The one fact (Abolitionists arguments are anti-biblical) does not lead to the conclusion that Southern slavery was just or biblically defensible and that is why Hodge’s is article is so good. He makes that point very clear and is a clear and strong supporter of the emancipation and freedom of slaves, but he does so on biblical grounds.

In Article XV Hodge’s essay is titled “Emancipation.” In this article he is responding to an essay by Robert J. Breckinridge, which appeared in the October, 1849 issue of the Princeton Review. This too is a very good and well thought out set of ideas. It is clear that Hodge, even at this point, still holds to the views that he had written in the earlier article on slavery.

In this essay he is arguing that, while slavery in and of itself is not necessarily sinful, if slaves are dealt with biblically as Christians should treat slavery, then such treatment must lead to the improvement on the slaves to the point where he/she must be emancipated out of slavery.

Dr. Breckinridge, a Presbyterian theologian of Kentucky, was a strong supporter of a change to the Kentucky Constitution that would lead to the freedom of Negro slaves in that state. Even though only 20% of Kentucky voters were slaveholders, the measure went down to overwhelming defeat.

Hodge wrote to explain how such a thing could happen and also to argue that emancipation for the slaves was inevitable, the only question was how it would come. Would it be by godly means as Breckinridge and others were trying to accomplish or would it be by other means.

He spends some time near the end of the essay discussing some of the more sinful laws that had been passed in the slaveholding states in the attempt to suppress and undermine the family structure of black slaves and other laws passed so as to keep the slaves in a state of ignorance.

Hodge speaks with the voice of a prophet at the end of this essay when he, “It is a national sin, as it must be committed by the people in their capacity as a commonwealth, and, therefore, will inevitably lead to national calamity. The history of the world is one continued proof that God visits the iniquities of the fathers on the children of the third and fourth generation of those who hate him… So sure, therefore, as a righteous God rules among the nations so certainly must the attempt to perpetuate slavery by keeping the slaves ignorant and degraded, work out a fearful retribution for those the descendents of those by whom such an attempt is made.”

In the article, despite his warning, it is clear that Hodge did not foresee the coming war between North and South. He believed that emancipation could still be accomplished by godly means, because there were many reasonable Christians in both North and South.

He was correct about there being reasonable Christians in both sections, but in North and South the hot heads carried the day we reaped the whirlwind and it affects as re still felt even to this day.

Coram Deo,

Monday, February 04, 2008

A Hero of Mine

I love history, but it’s not just because I like to know trivia. I love history because it is a valuable thing to know. I enjoy all history and find that there are nuggets of value in most any time in history.

American history is one of my favourites. I especially enjoy era just before, during and after the War for Independence. I find our history of the writing and ratification of the U.S. Constitution fascinating as well. The Constitution, its history and the growth development of the United States under the Constitution also intrigue me.

I have many heroes from the past. I have biblical heroes, I have heroes in Church history and I have secular heroes as well. Some of my greatest heroes are Americans. I hold Patrick Henry, George Washington, Sam Adams, etc… all in high regard and count them as American’s worthy of hero status, but the American I hold in the highest regard is not among the giants of America’s founding Fathers.

The American that I regard as the greatest American is Robert E. Lee. Lee was the son of Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee, who was one of George Washington’s best cavalry officers during the War for Independence. Henry was also served as governor of Virginia and was a strong proponent of the Constitution during ratification. He also served as a U.S. Congressman. It was Congressman Lee, who had known George Washington since childhood, who gave the Eulogy at Washington’s funeral. It was Henry Lee who said that George Washington was “First in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”

Robert E. Lee’s father was a hero of the Revolution and loomed large in many respects, but he was barely known by Robert. Robert was born when his father was old and Harry did when the boy was only 11, but even then Harry had been away for many years before than. He had gone to the Caribbean for health reasons four years earlier and was on his way home to Virginia but died in Georgia and never made it back home.

Robert did not grow up with great wealth. The family’s wealth had been lost in land speculation by his father, so Robert knew want as a child. He did have a famous father and important family connections and these did benefit.

At WestPoint he was the first cadet to graduate without ever receiving a single demerit and finished second in his class. Lee spent from then until Virginia seceded from the Union as an officer in the U.S. Army.

Before the commencement of hostilities between North and South, the head of the Army, Winfield Scott, said that Lee had the greatest military mind in the Army and Lincoln offered him the job as Commander of U.S. forces. Lee declined the job, resigned his commission in the Army and returned to Arlington, his home just across the Potomac River from Washington D.C.

Lee knew the score when he decided to defend Virginia and the South against the United States. The North had overwhelming superiority in manufacturing and man power. He was not deluded as so many braggarts and hot heads tend to be. Lee knew the odds for victory against the North were slim, but he did what he believed was his duty to the Constitution, his “country” Virginia and for his family.

Lee through his lot in with the Confederacy, which he knew to be greatly inferior to the North. Because it was, in his mind, the only right and honourable thing for him to do. The War cost him his home and the lives of many dear friends.

After the War he had nothing, but he was very famous. An Insurance company approached with an offer. They offered him a pile of money that would make him a very rich man. He told them that he could not do anything for them that was worth so much. They told him that he would not have to do anything. The money was his if he would allow them to use his name to promote their product.

Lee gave them a flat NO. He was willing to live in poverty and work hard but his good name was all that he had left and it was not for sale or lease. Lee did get a job as president of Washington College. Today that college is known as Washington and Lee University.

Lee was a great general and even more importantly he was a humble Christian.

Coram Deo,