15 April 2014

Not Like God

Jesus and his disciples went to the villages near the town of Caesarea Philippi. As they were walking along, he asked them, "What do people say about me?"

The disciples answered, "Some say you are John the Baptist or maybe Elijah. Others say you are one of the prophets."

Then Jesus asked them, "But who do you say I am?"

"You are the Messiah!" Peter replied.

Jesus warned the disciples not to tell anyone about him, and began telling his disciples what would happen to him. He said, "The nation's leaders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law of Moses will make the Son of Man suffer terribly. He will be rejected and killed, but three days later he will rise to life." Then Jesus explained clearly what he meant.

Peter took Jesus aside and told him to stop talking like that. But when Jesus turned and saw the disciples, he corrected Peter. He said to him, "Satan, get away from me! You are thinking like everyone else and not like God."

So when the time came, the chief priests and leaders took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.

14 April 2014

It needs to be said

by Frank Turk

My friends and pastors went to T4G last week, and all I got was this lousy blog post.

So yesterday we went to church after my friends and pastors came back from T4G, and they all had stories about the things they did or said, and one of the guys recounted an anecdote which needs to be brought to light here, Hiatus or not.

Our local church has really tight connections with an international parachurch organization [IPO] (their headquarters is right down the street), and that parachurch organization has really tight connections with a radio ministry [RM] that used to be sort of globally assisted by this larger parachurch ministry.  The names here are redacted because they are not important.

So my friend from church is seeing his friends from IPO and RM at T4G, and they start chatting about this and that, and someone asks if I'm there.  My friend says no, but he knows I'm listening via the web because I was tweeting the good stuff which I had time to listen to.

So the face/voice of RM says to my friend, "wait, Frank Turk?"

And my friend says, "Yes -- Frank goes to the Bible Church."  And the head of IPO confirms it because he and I have had lunch.

So the voice of RM says again, "Really?  Frank Turk?  He lives in Little Rock?"

And my friend says, "yes.  His kids are in Youth Group.  He teaches Sunday school sometimes."

And the voice of RM says yet a third time, "The PyroManiac?"

At which point my friend said that he and the leader of IPO started laughing because she was sort of flabbergasted.

And that leads me to this post, which I think is long overdue.  I think my friend was amused because maybe the voice of RM found it hard to believe that anything good could come out of Little Rock.  Maybe she was concerned that such a menace as I can come out of such a stolid and unswerving church as the one which we are members of these days.

I think there's actually a different problem: an on-going confusion in the world between myself and another fellow who probably doesn't realize he's being tarnished by the confusion.

This fellow is Dr. Frank Turek:


Right?  He has a Wikipedia page.  He has written books.  He has a Ph.D. in Apologetics. He has a radio show.  He's a reputable person.  He does not live in Little Rock.  He does not blog at this web site; he never has.  He's a good man.

This fellow here:


Right?  He makes Open Letters and Hitler Responds videos.  He has only been on the radio when Paul Edwards was crazy enough to invite him -- and he may have actually gotten Paul Edwards fired.  He writes forewords to books he has never read, and is counted as an anti-Catholic and as the quintessential WatchBlogger by those who do not want to be asked difficult questions.  He is a menace who must be stopped.

He lives in Little Rock.

You will be best-served if you don't confuse them.







13 April 2014

The Dragon!

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 34, sermon number 2,043, "The blood of the Lamb, the conquering weapon."
"When this dragon blocks our road, we shall need heavenly aid  to force our passage."

In calling him the dragon, the Holy Spirit seems to hint at his mysterious power and character. To us a spirit such as he is must ever be a mystery in his being and working. Satan is a mysterious personage though he is not a mythical one. We can never doubt his existence if we have once come into conflict with him; yet he is to us all the more real because so mysterious.

If he were flesh and blood it would be far easier to contend with him; but to fight with this spiritual wickedness in high places is a terrible task. As a dragon he is full of cunning and ferocity. In him force is allied with craft; and if he cannot achieve his purpose at once by power, he waits his time.

He deludes, he deceives; in fact, he is said to deceive the whole world. What a power of deception must reside in him, when under his influence the third part of the stars of heaven are made to fall, and myriads of men in all ages have worshipped demons and idols!

He has steeped the minds of men in delusion, so that they cannot see that they should worship none but God, their Maker. He is styled "the old serpent"; and this reminds us how practised he is in every evil art. He was a liar from the beginning, and the father of lies.

After thousands of years of constant practice in deception he is much too cunning for us. If we think that we can match him by craft we are grievous fools, for he knows vastly more than the wisest of mortals; and if it once comes to a game of policies, he will certainly clear the board, and sweep our tricks into the bag.

To this cunning he adds great speed, so that he is quick to assail at any moment, darting down upon us like a hawk upon a poor chick. He is not everywhere present; but it is hard to say where he is not. He cannot be omnipresent; but yet, by that majestic craft of his, he so manages his armies of fallen ones that, like a great general, he superintends the whole field of battle, and seems present at every point.

No door can shut him out, no height of piety can rise beyond his reach. He meets us in all our weaknesses, and assails us from every point of the compass. He comes upon us unaware, and gives us wounds which are not easily healed.

But yet, dear friends, powerful as this infernal spirit certainly must be, his power is defeated when we are resolved never to be at peace with him. We must never dream of terms or truce with evil. To suppose that we can let him alone, and all will be well, is a deadly error.

We must fight or perish: evil will slay us if we do not slay it. Our only safety will lie in a determined, vigorous opposition to sin, whatever shape it assumes, whatever it may threaten, whatever it may promise. The Holy Ghost alone can maintain in us this enmity to sin.

According to the text it is said of the saints, "They overcame him." We are never to rest until it is said of us also, "They overcame him." He is a foeman worthy of your steel. Do you refuse the conflict? Do you think of turning back? You have no armour for your back. To cease to fight is to be overcome.

You have your choice between the two, either to gird up the loins of your minds for a life-long resistance, or else to be Satan’s slaves for ever.

11 April 2014

Snipping out Bible verses? Begin (and end) at the beginning.

by Dan Phillips


From 2006 to 2012, PyroManiacs turned out almost-daily updates from the Post-Evangelical wasteland -- usually to the fear and loathing of more-polite and more-irenic bloggers and readers. The results lurk in the archives of this blog in spite of the hope of many that Google will "accidentally" swallow these words and pictures whole.

This feature enters the murky depths of the archives to fish out the classic hits from the golden age of internet drubbings.


The following except was written by Dan back in January 2013. Dan explains why if you're going to remove verses from the Bible, Gen 1:1 is the only one you need to bother with.


As usual, the comments are closed.
Folks at war with God have always snipped out the parts of the Bible that they didn't like. Rationalist critics in the 19th-21st centuries have turned Biblical authorship claims into pious lies at best, rationalized prophecies and miracles to remove, well, prophecy and miracles. Anything that offended their rival philosophy was discarded by one elaborate contrivance or another.

Some are less artful. A well-known actor tries to ameliorate his guilt over pursuing his slavery to unnatural desires by snipping out unwelcome passages from Gideon's Bibles in motel rooms. This is vandalism as therapy, evidently yet another pursuit of the idle rich.

It has occurred to me, however, that every one of these folks could save themselves a lot of trouble. Just one snip is all it would take.

Snip out Genesis 1:1.

Among the things the decades have brought to me is a deepening appreciation of the opening chapters of Genesis, and particularly of the first verse. As S. Lewis Johnson once remarked, if you believe Genesis 1:1, nothing in all the rest of the Bible is incredible. Reject it, and all goes with it.

In Genesis 1:1 we find a sovereign, self-existing, timeless, omniscient God creating the universe by fiat. Simply because He wants it to exist, because He wills it to exist, it comes to exist. There is none of the struggle and bloodshed of contemporary myths. Simply one God, creating all things the way He wants to create them, simply because He wants to for His own glorious reasons.

Much follows from this simple fact, this simple act. Because He pre-existed everything, God is independent of everything, and everything is dependent on Him. Because all that is exists as a reflection of His will, the universe is neither undefined nor self-defining. It is pre-defined. Scrooge isn't wrong when he says "An ant is what it is and a grasshopper is what it is" (though he is wrong about Christmas). He just didn't go far enough, and add that the ant and the grasshopper are what they are as created and defined by a sovereign God.

And so is man. So while the emergent and the PoMo alike gaze inward to the endless morass of their own subjectivity, and while the immoral pursue their cravings, and while the materialistic pretends to acknowledge nothing beyond "molecules in motion," their pursuit is a charade. It reminds us of the riddle:
Question: if we call a tail a "leg," how many legs does a dog have? 
Answer: four. It doesn't matter what you call it, a tail is a tail.
And so with ourselves. We can self-realize and self-actualize and self-affirm and self-love all we like, but we are creatures of a sovereign God. Our choices are only two: believe Him and think accordingly; or to come up with a diverting ruse.

But the ruse will always be a lie, and its pursuit will always be a doomed and damned enterprise.

As Genesis 1:1 reminds us. It reminds us by what it says about the beginning; but it also does that by its very use of the word, "beginning." Because just as the word "black" makes one think of "white," and "up" brings to mind "down," what does the word "beginning" suggest?

"End."

And as Genesis ends, so ends the Bible, with a vision of all rebellion defeated, Christ made head over all (cf. Eph. 1:10 Gk.), and God and His people reconciled forever in a glorious new Eden (Rev. 21—22).

Genesis 1:1 is the first sign-post, pointing to that inevitable resolution.

Which is why it should really be the first to go.


06 April 2014

"The Lord never plays at frightening men."

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 34, sermon number 2,013, "The infallibility of Scripture."
"God does not play with thee, man: wilt thou trifle with him?"

It is of no avail to sit down, and draw inferences from the nature of God, and to argue, “God is love, and therefore he will not execute the sentence upon the impenitent.” He knows what he will do better than you can infer; he has not left us to inferences, for he has spoken pointedly and plainly.

He says, “He that believeth not shall be damned,” and it will be so, “For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” Infer what you like from his nature; but if you draw an inference contrary to what he has spoken, you have inferred a lie, and you will find it so.

“Alas,” says one, “I shudder at the severity of the divine sentence.” Do you? It is well! I can heartily sympathize with you. What must he be that does not tremble when he sees the great Jehovah taking vengeance upon iniquity! The terrors of the Lord might well turn steel to wax.

Let us remember that the gauge of truth is not our pleasure nor our terror. It is not my shuddering which can disprove what the mouth of the Lord hath spoken. It may even be a proof of its truth. Did not all the prophets tremble at manifestations of God? Remember how one of them cried. “When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice; rottenness entered into my bones.”

One of the last of the anointed seers fell at the Lord’s feet as dead. Yet all the shrinking of their nature was not used by them as an argument for doubt. O my unconverted and unbelieving hearers, do remember that if you refuse Christ, and rush upon the keen edge of Jehovah’s sword, your unbelief of eternal judgment will not alter it, nor save you from it.

I know why you do not believe in the terrible threatenings. It is because you want to be easy in your sins. A certain sceptical writer, when in prison, was visited by a Christian man, who wished him well, but he refused to hear a word about religion. Seeing a Bible in the hand of his visitor, he made this remark, “You do not expect me to believe in that book, do you? Why, if that book is true, I am lost for ever.” Just so.

Therein lies the reason for half the infidelity in the world, and all the infidelity in our congregations. How can you believe that which condemns you? Ah! my friends, if you would believe it to be true and act accordingly, you would also find in that which the mouth of the Lord hath spoken a way of escape from the wrath to come; for the Book is far more full of hope than of dread.

This inspired volume flows with the milk of mercy, and the honey of grace. It is not a Doomsday Book of wrath, but a Testament of grace. Yet, if you do not believe its loving warnings, nor regard its just sentences, they are true all the same.

If you dare its thunders, if you trample on its promises, and even if you burn it in your rage, the holy Book still stands unaltered and unalterable; for “The mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”

Therefore, I pray you, treat the sacred Scriptures with respect, and remember that “These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”



30 March 2014

An unrecognized blessing

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from Words of Wisdom, pages 64-65, Pilgrim Publications.
"The Lord of love bestows it; His tenderness rocks the cradle for us every night; His kindness draws the curtain of darkness about us, and bids the sun cover his blazing lamp."  

How thankful should we be for sleep! Sleep is the best physician that I know of. Sleep hath healed more pains of wearied heads, and hearts, and bones than the most eminent physicians upon earth. It is the best medicine; the choicest thing of all the names which are written in all the lists of pharmacy.

No magic draught of the physician can match with sleep. What a mercy it is that it belongs alike to all! God does not make sleep the boon of the rich man; he does not give it merely to the noble, or the rich, so that they can monopolize it as a peculiar luxury for themselves; but he bestows it upon the poorest and most obscure.

Yea, if there be a difference, the sleep of the labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much. He who toils hardest sleeps all the sounder for his work.

While luxurious effeminacy cannot rest, tossing itself from side to side upon a bed of eiderdown, the hard-working labourer, with his strong and powerful limbs, worn out and tired, throws himself upon his hard couch and sleeps: and waking, thanks God that he has been refreshed.

Ye know not how much ye owe to God, that he gives you rest at night. If ye had sleepless nights, ye would then value the blessing. If for weeks ye lay tossing on your weary beds, ye then would thank God for this favour.

As sleep is the merciful appointment of God, it is a gift most precious, one that cannot be valued until it is taken away; yea, even then we cannot appreciate it as we ought.



28 March 2014

"We were Enemies"

by Frank Turk


From 2006 to 2012, PyroManiacs turned out almost-daily updates from the Post-Evangelical wasteland -- usually to the fear and loathing of more-polite and more-irenic bloggers and readers. The results lurk in the archives of this blog in spite of the hope of many that Google will "accidentally" swallow these words and pictures whole.

This feature enters the murky depths of the archives to fish out the classic hits from the golden age of internet drubbings.


The following except was written by Frank back in June 2010. Frank reminded us of some unpleasant truths regarding how we view others versus how we view ourselves.


As usual, the comments are closed.
We want our heroes to be just like us, and our perceived enemies to be completely unlike us, with nothing in common as if we are not all of Adam’s race, and as if the sin which cannot be forgiven is only possible in someone else’s bailiwick.

That’s the elephant in the room, btw: the way we toss people out of our circle of church with complete regard for their faults and no regard for their merit in Christ.

Let’s face it: we say we believe this --
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die -- but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. [Rom 5]
I mean: that’s straight up-the-middle Book of Romans. It’s the Reformed Home Court. This is the promise those who have faith and have repented, and if you’re really ready to go for the gusto, those who have been baptized for the sake of faith and repentance, ought to all share.

Paul says in this we ought to rejoice -- so all the smart remarks about the Apostle John and John the Baptist being a real gas at parties and whatnot ought to take its snark to Paul and see what he has to say about that.

See: for all the assurance we can derive from Rom 5, and all the exhortations of Paul to be unified under Christ and to let Christ be the basis for unity and fellowship, we also have James telling us this explicitly:
My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. [James 5]
One simple sentence, but I think we lose the force of it often. Here’s what I think we should read when we see this:

Some people – like you -- will from time to time wander away into sin.

Wandering people who have turned away from the truth can be turned back.

When these people turn back, they turn from death to life.

Other people are the instruments of turning the wanderers back to Christ.

James has the audacity to call both the wanderers and those who turn them back "My brothers".

Isn’t that crazy? Doesn’t that point us exactly to the same place Paul points us to – which is a refuge in Christ when we are confronting people who we believe are turned away from Christ and toward sin? James says that our approach to them, and our reproaches to them, ought to be as brothers and not as toward lawless men or people who are not in our own family.