Archive for February, 2011

Abortion: Problem or Symptom?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, during 2006 there were 846,181 reported abortions in the US. This worked out to 236 abortions per 1,000 live births among aged 15-44. Or to put it another way, an American child had a 1 in 5 chance of being murdered in his mother’s womb. Now consider this: according to FBI statistics New Orleans had the highest murder rate in the nation in 2009 with 0.52 murders per 1,000 people, meaning that an American mother’s womb is over 45,000% more dangerous than the than the most violent American city.

Now it’s tempting to look at a this statistic and say, “this is a terrible problem, we have to do something,” and proceed to devise a solution without ever asking the more profound question, Why is this happening? What philosophy, what ideas, what worldview has allowed this state of affairs to obtain? In other words, do we treat abortion as an isolated problem, or is it a symptom of something larger?

Here’s how Gordon Clark answered this question. He wrote,

    “A few paragraphs back I made mention of morality. Let us ask, why do so many women murder their own babies, or at least pay a hired     assassin to kill or half-kill the child and throw his quivering body into a garbage can? Why does the cruel vixen kill her own child?     Few people give the basic answer. She kills her baby because she rejects the doctrine of the Trinity. The Ten Commandments forbid the     crime of murder. But why should anyone pay attention to the Ten Commandments? The answer to this why is found in the introduction:     “I am the Lord thy God.” If that statement is not true, then abortion, child abuse, torture, drug addiction, theft, and anything else are     matters only of personal preference. The basic question is not what is right or wrong, though this question has a derivative status.     But the basic question is, What is true?” – Gordon Clark, “The Logos,” The Trinity Review, 2008.

Now that’s insight. Abortion is first a symptom. Having rejected God, we’ve become a nation of Pilates who cynically ask, “what is truth?,” as we calmly go about the business of murdering children. The only solution to this problem is to reconcile God and man, and the only hope of effecting this reconciliation is the widespread preaching of and belief in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Of course, this immediately rules out the ecumenical approach so loved by American Neo-Evangelicals: co-belligerence with Rome. Rome has no Gospel, it has no good news. Therefore, it has nothing to offer those who seek to stop abortion. Preaching the Gospel comes first, stopping abortion second. When Christians protest abortion and fail to observe this order, they waste their time and insult Christ.

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Way to Go Dr. No

“The United States is in a time of economic crisis, but this is no excuse to abandon the principles that have built this great country and spread its ideals to the darkest recesses of the planet. Rep. Paul has abandoned this mission, abandoned the United States’ citizens, and abandoned the citizens of the world in their quest for their God-given natural rights.” – Jordan Marks, Senior National Director Yang Americans for Freedom

As the saying goes, ROFLOL. There’s nothing, and I mean nothing, funnier than watching establishment conservative types have an aneurism after listening to a Ron Paul speech. The echoes of Rep. Paul’s words to CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) had barely died away when the spoon bangers at Young Americans for Freedom decided to give Dr. Paul the left foot of fellowship – pace Sean Gerety – by booting him off the organizations advisory committee.

Check out the speech that garnered Dr. Paul the CPAC straw poll victory and the enmity of Young Neocons for Statism.

Now that’s what I call rockin’ the free world.

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The Power of Ideas

Here’s a quote from someone I’m not at all inclined to cite favorably, nevertheless the following is an excellent point,

[T]he ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back. – John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, p.683.

Too often Christians dismiss the intellect and elevate feelings, what they call the heart, to a place of prominence. But the Bible knows nothing about a heart/head dichotomy. In the Bible, the heart and the head, or better, the heart and the mind are the same thing. Paul tells us we have the mind of Christ. John tells us that it is Christ the Logos, or Logic of God who lightens our minds. As Christians, therefore, we ought to have at least as much appreciation for the power of ideas as the pagan Keynes.

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“At the same moment that Jesus is being proclaimed king of Israel by the multitudes on Earth, the seventh trumpet is sounding in Heaven by an angel and a multitude of voices cry out, ‘the kingdoms of this world…’ And while there is all this noisy praise that is going on to Jesus Christ in Heaven there is all this noisy praise with the loud hosannas that is occurring at the triumphal entry on Earth. The proclamation in Heaven is accompanied with loud voices and peals of thunder. And it’s here that the heavenly and earthly scenes begin to merge…” – Steve Carpenter comparing the events of John 12 with the events of Revelation 12 during Session 4 of the January 2006 Unlocking Revelation II Conference.

When I was researching my book about Knox Seminary, one of the stranger teachings I discovered in the John-Revelation Project (JRP) – a series of “study papers” apparently co-authored by Knox Adjunct Lecturer Steve Carpenter – was its assertion that both the Gospel of John and Revelation tell the same story but from different perspectives. In other words, the authors of the JRP would have us believe that the events that take place in John are the very same events that take place in Revelation, but that John gives the earthly perspective, and Revelation the heavenly perspective on these events.

The Steve Carpenter citation at the top of this post is from a seminar that was held at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in January 2006 and was used as a forum to present material from the JRP to the general public. This, however, is not the only time that the authors of the JRP – whose leader, Warren Gage, is Dean of Faculty at Knox Seminary – have made this assertion. In JRP Study Paper Number One they wrote,

Taken together, the Fourth Gospel and Revelation constitute a literary diptych…the two books of John offer a spatial horizon depicting the creative struggle of Jesus both from the perspective of Earth (John) and of Heaven (Revelation)

The Fourth Gospel’s Joshua typology largely tracks the account of the conquest of Canaan, beginning with the crossing of the Jordan and depicting two campaigns, one in the south (Judea) and one in the north (Galilee). The climactic battle involves the struggle of Jesus as the True Joshua against the confederated enemies of God, led by Jerusalem. This epic struggle occurs, from one perspective, on Earth, depicted in the Gospel of John. Revelation portrays the same struggle from the perspective of Heaven.The Knox Seminary Faculty, JRP Study Paper No. 1, (2006); quoted in Steven T. Matthews, Imagining a Vain Thing, (Trinity Foundation, 2008), 42. Italics added.

This statement suggests that the JRP authors, Steve Carpenter among them, are Full Preterists, those who assert that all eschatological events in Revelation have already been fulfilled. I say this, because, if the authors believe that all the events in the book of John have already taken place, and John and Revelation tell the same story, by good and necessary inference the JRPers must believe that all the events in Revelation already have taken place. But the JRP authors inconsistently reject Full Preterism, claiming that there are certain passages in Revelation that pertain only to the future.


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The old metaphor a frog slowly boiling in water is an apt description of people becoming inured over time to ideas that would have seemed monstrous to an earlier generation. The American Medical Association is a good case in point. In the 1871 the AMA had this to say about abortion,

     “We shall discover an enemy in the camp … we shall witness as hideous a view of moral deformity as the evil spirit could present …. It is false brethren we have to fear; men who are false to their professions, false to principle, false to honor, false to humanity, false to God….” They went on to describe physician-abortionists as “these modern Herods,” “educated assassins,” “Monsters of iniquity,” and “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” The physicians were clear on their moral authority and did not hesitate to impose their beliefs. They wrote: ” ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ This commandment is given to all, and applies to all without exception.” They warned of “the uplifted hand of an avenging God [that] will suddenly fall on [the] guilty head [of an abortionist].” – John W. Robbins, “Abortion Christianity and the State,” The Trinity Review, (January, February 1985).

By 1977 the AMA had adopted a slightly different principles and had this to say about abortion,

    “The Principles of Medical Ethics of the AMA do not prohibit a physician from performing an abortion in accordance with good medical     practice and under circumstances that do not violate the law.” – AMA Code of Medical Ethics, 1977

It seems that many modern doctors make good frogs indeed.

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A few months back, Stephen Welch broke the story that Knox Seminary had hired John Armstrong and Peter Leithart as adjunct faculty members.  Apparently the public outcry got the better of the fine folks in Fort Lauderdale and the school dropped the names of Armstrong and Leithart from its website.  To this day I still don’t know either one is teaching there, and, in a way, it really doesn’t matter.  The school has tipped its hand as to its theological direction, and even if the dynamic duo of Leithart and Armstrong never set foot in the school, there’s every reason to believe that KTS will manage to dredge up someone else just as offensive in the near future, all the better to advance the cause of the school’s unique brand of “reformed” theology. 

But then, I do KTS too little honor.  For in fact, this very thing has already happened.    

While surfing the Knox website this evening I noticed something that I hadn’t seen before.  A new name on the Adjunct Faculty page:  Steve Carpenter.  “Steve Carpenter, Steve Carpenter,” I thought to myself, “why does that name sound familiar?”  Then, as if in a mystic vision, it dawned on me.  That guy!  He’s one of the fellows who helped Warren Gage develop his ideas on typology, the same ideas which Gage used in his doctoral dissertation, the same ideas which he repackaged as the John-Revelation Project, the same ideas which in 2007 blew Knox Seminary apart. 

Here are few things worth noting about Carpenter and his past involvement with Gage,

  • Gage publically thanked Carpenter on the Acknowledgments page of his dissertation, writing, “Randy Beck and Steve Carpenter joined with me in this labor from the inception. Their encouragement and prayers were given to me at every step. Their insight and contributions are found on every page. What an adventure we have shared!”
  • Several of the Study Papers that comprise the John-Revelation Project list Steve Carpenter as a copyright holder, see here, here and here for examples of this.
  • Carpenter spoke at the both Unlocking Revelation conferences held by KTS. It was at these conferences, one in January 2004 and one in January 2006, that Gage – with a little help from his friends – presented his heretical typology to the general public.

“This is amazing stuff,” I thought. But then, after a little reflection, it occurred to me, “what if the Steve Carpenter on the Adjunct Faculty page is a different Steve Carpenter from the one who worked with Gage?” A little digging on the internet put that question to rest, for Steve Carpenter’s LinkedIn page identifies him as Executive Director of Word and Spirit Ministries and Adjunct Professor at Knox Seminary. From my research on Imaging a Vain Thing I know that the Steve Carpenter who helped Warren Gage write his dissertation is the same Steve Carpenter who’s with Word and Spirit Ministries, so this is for certain the same individual. Carpenter’s LinkedIn page also helped answer another question, How long has Carpenter been at Knox? According to the information posted there, Carpenter joined the faculty in 2010, so he’s a definite newbie at KTS.

None of this is really surprising. Warren Gage is nothing if not resourceful, energetic and focused. For several years now he’s had free rein to remake KTS in his own image, and the project is well on the way to completion. That being the case, there’s really nothing shocking about him bringing his posse on board. I can hardly wait to see his next move. Who knows, maybe a new and improved version of the John-Revelation Project is in the works. I can only imagine.

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The Gipper Turns 100

Growing up in the 70’s, the first president I remember was Richard Nixon.  Of course, what I really remember about Nixon was the disgraceful Watergate scandal.  The uproar over it seemed to drag on forever and left me with a decided negative impression of politicians.  Not that that’s all bad.  It’s certainly better than implicitly trusting and worshipping them the way so many seem to.  Even the Scriptures exhort us, “put not your trust in princes,” so it’s not as though being skeptical of the government is unchristian.  But that doesn’t excuse Nixon’s actions.  His lying caused enormous damage to the nation at a time when sound leadership was desperately needed. 

The election of 1976 brought us Jimmy Carter.  What I remember about Carter was his lecturing us about what we can’t do – we can’t turn the heat up, we can’t turn the air conditioning down, we can’t put out Christmas lights,  we can’t free the hostages in Iran, we can’t even make Billy Carter go away – and finding him thoroughly depressing.  And depressing pretty much the mood of the whole country at the time. 

That all changed in 1980.  Reagan was elected, and suddenly it seemed as though the country had its swagger back.  Reagan was known as the great communicator, and with good reason.  He could articulate the case for freedom and limited government with simplicity, charm and power.  And though his actions didn’t live up to his rhetoric, it’s not fair to say that he was all hat and no cattle.  He stood up to the Soviets, he backed Fed Chairman Paul Volker’s successful fight against inflation, he cut income taxes and successfully battled organized labor during the illegal PATCO (the air traffic controllers union) strike of 1981.  Reagan, in short, was the most effective and best president of my lifetime. 

Here’s Reagan’s speech at the 1964 GOP Convention in support of Barry Goldwater.  It’s a classic.  Much of what he says is still relevant today, and for those of you who did not live through the Reagan presidency, this will give you some idea of why his is still a revered figure.                   

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