Archive for the ‘General Interest’ category

Labor Day 2016 Update

September 3, 2016

It has been over a year since I posted any articles on my blog and I figure it is about time to remedy that. I hope that you few subscribers to my blog find this post of interest.

Even before my final series of posts last year I was feeling a deep sense of burnout, I couldn’t think of anything I felt was worth writing about. Then when I did the series of posts on eternal conscious torment (ECT) versus conditional immortality most of the reaction I received was negative. Someone who had been a subscriber for quite a while, and who I had exchanged friendly emails with, was very unhappy with me and unsubscribed. I never started this blog to become popular but when friends get angry with me it is never fun.

I suppose that is neither here nor there and not of interest to anyone but myself. When I stopped blogging I was listening to recorded bible studies every day while commuting to work. This was in addition to being a member of a brick and mortar congregation in the town where I reside. I am still a member of the local congregation but I am not listening to any recorded sermons at the moment and there is a reason for that which I would like to share.

I am dispensational in theology but it is difficult to find solid dispensational sermons to listen to. I have spent a lot of time searching for sermons that are doctrinally solid and thought I had finally found what I was searching for. In the past five years I found two pastors who I have listed to regularly. Both are dispensational and involved with Chafer Theological Seminary (CTS) which is solid even if some of its leadership leans toward four point Calvinism.

In the past two years both of these pastors have begun to password protect their audio lessons. I contacted one of the staff of the pastor I listened to most regularly and got the password. I wondered what was going on but didn’t question it too deeply until my parents called me one day. They were listening to a different series preached by the same pastor and he made some comments that explained a lot.

Did you know that if you listen to doctrinal studies from home that you are a “lone ranger” Christian? Somehow it appears that your spiritual gifts just won’t function if you are not sitting in a church pew. Comments made seemed to imply that if you aren’t physically present when the pastor teaches then you somehow have cut yourself off from the body of Christ. I do not believe that it is an accident that both these pastors locked up their teaching within a short period of each other, someone with influence at CTS is convincing these men that they should cut people like me off from their teaching (apparently they do think of it as “their” teaching).

Looking back on it I realized that the church staff member who provided me with the bible study password had probably violated church policy. After reflecting on it for a while I decided that I didn’t want to ask someone to violate their church’s policy or to force a pastor to teach me against his will so I stopped listening!

In time I realized that this policy probably flows from what I believe to be a flawed rendering of Hebrews 13:17:

17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

I have heard more than one pastor say you have to do everything they tell you (submit) and use this verse as support. When you think about can you really “submit” to a pastor who is five hundred miles away? I really believe that in their minds we violate this verse when are not physically present so we can be monitored.

Let’s look at the words translated “obey” and “submit” while we’re at it. The word translated “obey” is the Koine Greek word “peithesthe” which is almost always translated to be convinced or persuaded. I have no doubt that the Church of Rome translated it as submit in this passage and the reformers saw no reason to change it. Who just gives away authority like this?

The word translated “submit” is a “hypeikete” which is a hapax legomenon (this is the only time it is used in scripture) so the translation is much more uncertain. According to Strong’s Concordance:

ὑπείκω; from Homer down; to resist no longer, but to give way, yield (properly, of combatants); metaphorically, to yield to authority and admonition, to submit.

Bases on this information I don’t see why this isn’t every bit as good of a translation:

17 [Be persuaded by] your leaders and [yield to their admonition], for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

Remember that the Hebrew members of the church in Jerusalem were under great pressure to return to Judaism even though they were believers. The author of Hebrews was telling them to listen to their pastors and stay in the church. This wasn’t a blanket command to do everything they were told!

So how am I studying the Word now that I have no source of verbal teaching? We live in a wonderful time because there is a lot of written material with great depth to it. I have begun reading for the second time the 2nd edition of Joseph Dillow’s Final Destiny: The Future Reign of the Servant Kings. If you are interested in learning how to rightly divide the word of truth when it comes to those difficult passages that Calvinists and Arminians fight over this book is for you. It runs around 1200 pages and is, in my opinion, a doctrinal tour de force.

I have also begun reading books regarding how believers handled persecution during the English Reformation. For 130 years believers were persecuted for their faith but there was always a minority, a remnant, which stayed the course even under great pressure. An excellent book on the topic is Loyal Dissenters: Reading Scripture and Talking Freedom with 17-century English Baptists by Lee Canipe. I personally believe that toleration for the “wrong kind” of Christian is quickly eroding in the United States. If you believe this also and would like to know how other Christians handled the situation, and how they justified their position scripturally, then I highly recommend this book!

Thank you all!

Cornelius Van Til and Charlie Clough’s Bible Framework Course

April 11, 2013

It is my conviction that there are issues with Cornelius Van Til’s presuppositional approach to apologetics which Dispensationalists in particular are not generally aware of. Through Charlie Clough’s popular Bible Framework series Van Til’s apologetics are taking hold in dispensational circles. My goal is not to tell anyone what they can or cannot believe. Rather I want to encourage our next generation of Dispensational pastors, seminary professors, and Sunday school teachers to be Bereans and look good and hard at the implications of this system!

Courses emphasizing Van Til’s apologetics are currently being taught at both Chafer Theological Seminary and Tyndale Theological Seminary. I am certain that Van Til’s philosophy is also being taught at other Dispensational seminaries in the United States. I don’t know if any of the students attending these seminaries have wrestled with the same questions on this topic as I have. If you have this post is for you. If you haven’t maybe you should.

To help establish I am legitimate and not someone trying to subvert solid biblical teaching I am going to provide some biographical information. I have organized this post so that if any reader is not interested in my background it will be easy to skip over.

My Background

I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior when I was five years old. Since that time I have never seriously doubted my salvation or worried about where I would spend eternity. The biggest theological influence on me has been R.B. Thieme, Jr. (aka Colonel Thieme) who pastored Berachah Church in Houston, TX for over fifty years. For many years Colonel Thieme was a rather influential Dispensational pastor here in the United States.

For those of you not familiar with Colonel Thieme’s ministry, you might be surprised to know that he emphasized daily intake of Bible doctrine. We did not live in Houston so we ordered reel-to-reel tapes every month from Berachah’s Tapes & Publications unit. If we could not order enough lessons to make it through the month we would just start listening to that month’s batch over again until the next month’s order arrived. Many years we never missed a day.

There probably weren’t many kids in junior high school that could discuss the divine decrees or the doctrine of kenosis, but I could. I estimate that I have listened to somewhere between three and four thousand hours of his teaching.

By the time I got out of college and established myself, I began to listen only sporadically to his teaching. There were certain things that he had started teaching that I wasn’t comfortable with. It would have been nice to find a local pastor who held to solid dispensational teaching but I couldn’t find anyone.

Somewhere around 2004 I began doing web searches trying to find Dispensational online resources. It was because of these searches that I found Chafer Theological Seminary and subscribed to their journal. An article in the Chafer Theological Seminary Journal (CTSJ) provided a link to Charlie Clough’s Bible Framework series. I checked it out and was immediately hooked. It filled in huge gaps in my knowledge and I drank it in like a sponge.

Colonel Thieme was a great teacher but he stopped teaching from the Old Testament in the 1970s. On the other hand Charlie Clough’s Bible Framework series started with Genesis and worked forward to the Book of Revelation. Pastor Clough (it turns out he was ordained by Colonel Thieme) taught things about creation, the flood, and the covenants with Israel that I hadn’t heard before. When he got into the New Testament there wasn’t as much new material for me to absorb, though topics like the development of the church creeds and the filioque were very interesting. I still use Pastor Clough’s written materials to reference topics like the Roman Catholic view of justification and sanctification or the differences between premillennialism, amillennialism, and postmillennialism

Pastor Clough ingrained in me the apologetics of Cornelius Van Til which was the master framework that Clough hung his Bible Framework course on. It wasn’t until later that I began asking questions and having second thoughts about Van Til’s approach.

Though I do not listen to Colonel Thieme’s teaching any more I have found solid scriptural teaching from a dispensational perspective available from other sources (all those web searches finally paid off!). I believe that the Dispensational hermeneutic is the best way of interpreting scripture. I don’t believe that any man made theological system is perfect, but until I find one that I believe interprets the Bible in a more perfect way I shall remain a Dispensationalist.

Though my undergraduate and graduate degrees involve Chemical Engineering and Mathematics, I have learned that native intelligence and formal education do not always translate into wisdom.

The Search for More Information and the Seeds of Doubt (more…)

Thanksgiving 2012 – Psalm 107

November 19, 2012

If you have been reading many of the conservative Christian blogs from here in the good old U.S. of A. lately you will find a very glum group of people. After the recent presidential election there is good reason to be concerned about divine discipline heading our way. A majority of the American people have rejected biblical principles for government and chosen to trust men and woman who tell them anything they want to hear.

I personally believe that Christianity in the United States is headed for an extended period of persecution that we are totally unprepared for. Those who want to push us out of the public square say they have no bad intentions towards us but I find those reassurances to be unconvincing. For anyone who believes that we are in the midst of a much larger “Invisible War” (please read a bit of Donald Grey Barnhouse’s classic here) as I do know that “the world, the flesh, and the Devil” do not have benign intentions.

This post isn’t starting off sounding like one of thanksgiving but it is. The Lord’s provision for, and protection of, me and my family have been flawless so far and I see no reason why that should change now. Unfortunately many of my countrymen have placed their trust in unscrupulous men and this can only turn out poorly for them. (more…)

Psalm 94 – God the Refuge of the Righteous

September 20, 2012

In the past six months I have had many discussions with my father about how we Christians are commanded to interact with government. Do we participate in “Christian activism,” do we meekly hold out our wrists for the manacles, or is there some other option? These are important questions!

Pastor Clay Ward of Pleroma Bible Church is leading his congregation verse by verse through the Torah. I began listening to the Exodus section of his study a few weeks ago and lo and behold in today’s lesson he took his listeners through Psalm 94 which asks many of the same questions I have been asking myself. Psalm 94 deals with persecution and protection of the righteous. If you have asked yourself the same questions I recommend listening to Pastor Ward by clicking on this link:

Touring the Torah Lesson 403

NOTE: I have checked the CD that I uploaded this lesson from along with the other materials I have from Pleroma Bible Church and I see no copyright or language prohibiting me from uploading this lesson. If anyone from Pleroma Bible Church finds this post and thinks I have violated any laws please let me know and I will delete this post immediately.

Book Recommendation

September 7, 2012

One of the reasons that I started this blog was so I could collect links to websites and webpages that interest me in one central location. It is still satisfying when I find one of those and can pass it along. I just found an e-book titled “Basic Reformed Theology Explained and Exposed” written by Brenda Nickel that I now have the great satisfaction of directing my few readers to. Ms. Nickel was a Calvinist who later became a Dispensationalist and in her book she spends a lot of words (278 pages worth) explaining what the differences are.

The following quote of Ms. Nickel is something that I have thought quite a bit about (only she says it so much better than I can). No matter what your theology is, if it cannot answer her challenge below then your theology lacks something important!

===== Begin Quote =====

God’s Character and Attributes (not exhaustive)

In examining the character of God, we need to remember that His attributes are all constantly working at 100%. They are never out of balance. At any given moment His justice and His love and His righteousness are all functioning fully in perfect harmony and balance. Never is one attribute at 75% and another at 50%. They are all working at 100% in perfect harmony. In considering Calvinism, God’s attributes aren’t working in balance at 100% if God has already sentenced men to hell without a possibility of believing the gospel? One asks how righteous, holy, loving and just is that? In this scenario, His love would be working at say 50% while His justice is working at 75%. So ask yourself, “Is it really the character of God to condemn a person without any honest chance to believe in Him?” Put yourself or someone you love in that situation? We cannot explain away the horrific abuse of His character by claiming divine mystery!

Omniscient Immortal Immutable Sinless Patient Creator Good
Omnipotent Sovereign Righteous Loving Just Wise Sovereign
Omnipresent Peaceful Infinite Truthful Merciful Knowable Forgiving
Personal Holy Invisible Humble Faithful Kind Generous
Eternal Gracious Self-existent Triune Moral Living

Basic Reformed Theology Explained and Exposed
by Brenda Nickel
p 29

This Week: Some Links Worth Reading

June 15, 2012

In spite of my best intentions I won’t be posting an original article this week. Between the usual summer craziness and a bout of some kind of stomach ailment I haven’t made time to write a post. When I began blogging my goal was to post one article a week and I have been pretty faithful in doing just that. However I am at a point where I am going to back off that at least for the rest of the summer. I will be posting but it won’t be as regular as it has been in the past. I will let you all know if that changes.

Even though I won’t be posting a new article I would like to recommend a series of articles at the “On My Walk” blog. As you may know I have been very interested in the “human free will” versus “Divine sovereignty” debate that seems to pit Christian versus Christian in certain corners of the protestant blogosphere. Kevin Lane, the owner of “On My Walk,” has begun to review Dr. James R. White’s The Potter’s Freedom: A Defense of the Reformation and a Rebuttal of Norman Geisler’s Chosen But Free. This paragraph from Kevin’s first article sets the tone:

These articles will be my thoughts as I go. Most of the people who read OMW would agree that I do my level best to keep an open mind and let arguments be made. As I have written here many times before, should Dr. White convince me I will openly say so. With the exception of the revised edition of Chosen But Free, I have not ever read any response to White’s work. I can’t even remember what Geisler said about The Potter’s Freedom in his work. So these articles will be my thoughts alone.

Here are links to the first three articles:

Kevin is not a Calvinist, at least in terms of his theology of salvation, and has been asked to read Dr. White’s book anyway. Kevin is running into some of the same challenges that I have when dealing with this material so I can really relate to what he has written. If you are also interested in this topic then you should go read Kevin’s articles!

Answering Treisee

May 21, 2012

This week my post is going to consist of a response to a long comment by reader Treisee to my ‘The Presuppositions of the “Deserted Island Scenario”’ post. I encourage Treisee, or anyone else, to add more comments at the end of the post which I will try and answer promptly.

Treisee said:

What happens if we have no bibles? Are we going to be able to know God, or have salvation? We have such a heavy emphasis on ‘line upon line, precept upon precept’ concepts, interpreting scripture with scripture and all that, that do we ever stop to think about being bibleless? That one day we may never be able to feast upon the authenticated word of God, the bible?

(more…)


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