Monday, July 28, 2014

The Deaf Hear... Amy

video


This is among the most beautiful things I've ever witnessed take place. It reminds me of Jesus, Yeshua the Messiah and what He did in the lives of the people around Him.

Naturally, the Gospel accounts are very controversial, particularly in the age of modernity, but even before our day, even back into the days shortly after Christ's very ascension, the account was very controversial.

This video of Amy gives me insight into the lives of those Jesus healed, particularly the deaf. The deaf whom He laid hands on and healed would have been just as joyful as this young woman. They would have run home to their families. They would meet their parents for the first time in a way they had never known. They would struggle to tell about the Man of Galilee who had changed the course of their lives.

And then along the way, smarmy scientists and Jewish scribes would poke holes in their accounts, and for  some, they might deliver unto death if they did not cease with their storytelling about the Man of Galilee.

Additionally, the trial of Yeshua the Messiah would garner controversy. Some, even amongst the Council,  would argue in His defense. But the majority would have their say before Pilate, and He would be put to  death.

But despite the unanimity among enlightened moderners that these events never took place, there was a  strong presence for decades after His death, that continued to enraged the Jewish high priests. The leaders of the church James, Peter, and John, continue to be an irritant to the priests until they killed James, and a few short years thereafter, Peter. But there was a transmission of the Gospel very readily into the extremes of the known world.

Disciples like Matthew who reached Ethiopia and regions of Africa, Thomas who reached India, and James  who reached Spain, not to mention it's said that Joseph of Arimathea entered the British Isles while Mary the Magdalene reached France.

This is very odd that so many people would lay down their livelihoods, and travel thousands of miles into regions they would enjoy no guarantee of support, where they would struggle to maintain a bare existence, and of whom so many would suffer death, for what they knew to be a fictitious narrative.

The real Jesus, if He was a fraud, was a very clever fraud, who managed to convince thousands of His  contemporaries that He had power of medical healings, and necessarily must have had a host of  co-conspirators.

Only conspirators don't go to their deaths without recanting. When the mystery of their iniquity has been laid out by their accusers, the only logical move is to fess up.

But the history shows that they did not, and millions went to their deaths refusing to denounce their Savior.

Think on those men and women going home, with the proofs of their healing carried with them, and that it  was through such-like conviction that they went to their deaths as martyrs.

In the cell of John the Baptist, inundated with the doubt of his mission, how he once powerfully proclaimed that he was "the Voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, Make his paths straight," John looks back on his life and his impending execution. Was it so? He sends two disciples to Jesus of Nazareth asking,

"Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?"

And Jesus answered and said unto them,

"Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them."

And John went to his death, proclaiming Jesus the Messiah, even in death, preparing the way of the Lord.

Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!

If video is inactive, can be found at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpi1xKD20dw

Saturday, July 12, 2014

My Visit to a Diploma Mill

Several years ago, when I was around nineteen, I thought to visit an old pastor my family had known for many years. He was respected of his peers and was a fine churchman and leader of several flocks in his nearly fifty years of ministry. I had in mind to eventually study for theology and ministry and surely this aged pastor, in his mid-sixties could steer me in the right direction.

Oh, sure, he said, there is a great university you need to look into. They have a campus here in Tyler, "Louisiana Baptist University" Go and see one of my good friends, Dr. Mike Daniels, pastor of Landmark  Baptist Church.

I drove several miles out to the southeast of town to Landmark Baptist. I went in, shook hands and  introduced myself to Pastor Mike. He took me to a long hallway, on which wall he had prominently displayed four of his degrees. "This is my Bachelors." A little further and "These are my two masters." And "This is my doctorate." I'm not aware that any of them were from accredited schools. One is impressed that he is not simply proud of his accomplishments, he has impressed himself. Every second of it was enamour and pride with his credentials and it was obnoxious.

I highly value education. I respect those who have made notable accomplishments in higher education. But I don't recall anyone who so obnoxiously advertised their own credentials as this man. I've never been put off if someone spoke to me of their achievements. But this man put me off.

We went on to talk about the demands of Louisiana Baptist University, which is an unaccredited school that I think has more prestige than a diploma mill but still is something I would not advise you to touch with a ten foot stick.

I left, unconvinced. I probably thought to myself there really are no shortcuts in life. Everything has to be done right, if you want it done well. But, this Dr. Mike was fascinating, but only mildly. I would have to look into his background and see what I could dig up. And boy, did I strike it big.

When I looked for the church's official website, I saw something very curious. In connection with the  ministry school he hosts on the church site, he's involved in training up young ministers to counsel with struggling folks. And what better man to counsel and to raise up young ministers than the Executive Director of the National Association of Family and Marriage Counselors.[1]

Quite an austere name. How privileged we are to have such a noted psychologist among us.

But the more I investigated, I found that there really was no such National Association of Family and Marriage Counselors to speak of. Rather, from what I could determine, it was among a variety of other  corporations using similarly prestigious-sounding titles, of which I only determined that he was the only member.

And yet when I carefully read the language, it's said so matter-of-factly as if he were voted in as president by some distinguished council of public servants. So far as I could determine, he wasn't "elected" president by anyone other than himself, when he registered his corporation with the state comptroller.

Was he really certified as a professional counselor?

"Dr. Daniels holds professional certifications with the National Association of Family and Marriage  Counselors and the National Association of Professional Counselors."

So we can see clearly he has a secondary certification from his own organization which he founded, the  NAMF. But this NAPC? Who might that be? It's quite an austere sounding name. Certainly it must be a  prestigious accrediting council of authorities in the area of psychology and psychotherapy.

But alas, though I looked into this professional academy, I found scant results (less than ten), and I found no such recognition among professional societies such as the National Board of Certified Counselors and Affiliates, or the American Counseling Association. Nevertheless, I am convinced that such an entity does in fact exist and that no professional demands are put upon any of its members, in my estimation. Again, as is so often the case in this investigation, it seems that this is merely another rubber-stamp operation, one that accredits anyone willing to pay a fee.

I return to the church website, for I have only investigated a handful of links in the directory.

A fine theologian such as Pastor Mike probably is quite a purist doctrinally, I had in mind to study up on the church's positions. Under the selection bar to the left, there is indeed an "Articles of Faith" section under the Resources menu.

I find today that there is nothing on the page! And neither was there anything on the page when I looked there the better part of ten years ago! The more I read the website, the more it seems like a subtle  advertisement. It's merely another shell in a long list of shells.

"Christian Counselors can receive a certificate by joining the National Association of Family and Marriage Counselors and subscribing to NAFMC'S code of counseling and conduct and submitting three references and the proper fee's."[2]

How much? For a basic license, a counseling certificate is "$125.00 with a $25.00 annual renewal."

But if you want the real deal: "Professional Counseling Certificate is $175.00 with a $25. 00 annual renewal."

Because if you want to be a professional, it has nothing to do with how many advanced graduate courses you take in your field of study, it merely costs an extra fifty dollars. [3]

Elsewhere, we find a range of information on tuition at the bible college.

So there are certainly an abundance of links and matter relating to fees, accreditation, and advertising for the little business the "Chancelor" [sic] of the Texas Baptist Theological Seminary has been profiting from in many years. On the contrary, there is scant evidence that a church exists at all. All that I've found confirms that there is certainly a shady operation being run that pretends to endorse "professional counselors" with no accredited training, for a small fee.

This is certainly not the first time I've seen a person of such notable achievement. I knew a young man in his early 30s who had been specially recognized by the city for his quote, Work with the food and homeless shelter and direct assistance to the needy. I spent months interviewing this man and his family on a personal level. I found no evidence of a homeless shelter. I found small evidence that he provided meals on an irregular basis to some of the less fortunate he was directly affiliated with. I saw him take plenty of donations for his personal gratification but I saw no such good works, to deserve a commendation from the mayor himself.

In the world of ministry, diploma mills, and fundamentalist Christianity, very few of the pastors have real credentials, and the only value of the credentials they have are not in its intrinsic worth but that others pretend with the minister that they have worth. Money is much the same way. At one point, it had a designated value with respect to either gold or silver. Now, it's value is by fiat, according to common convention, e.g. that we agree it has value and businesses are willing to accept it as a valid object for making transactions. If businesses on the border with Mexico agree that pesos are a legitimate value for exchange, then they will exchange pesos. If fundamentalists agree that paper credentials that in fact are worth less than the paper they are printed on are worth something, then it is by that convention that they are worth something.

If it is agreed that one can pretend to operate homeless shelters and orphanages, although no such facilities exist or have ever existed, then it makes sense how a city government, or worse, the White House (and yes, the individual I was speaking of received recognition from the White House - for nothing), can mail out such letters to single out and distinguish outstanding citizens in the community.

What happens, in my experience, is these letters become just another credential. When no food shelters are found, the formal letter of commendation is drawn out. "See, I did used to operate a food shelter, the mayor even commended me for it!"

Good old Mike.

Professor. Dean of Psychology. Chancelor [sic]. A bachelor, two masters, a Doctorate of Theology, a Ph.D., an honorary doctorate, Executive Director of the National Association of Family and Marriage Counselors.

"One is impressed that he is not simply proud of his accomplishments, he has impressed himself. Every  second of it was enamor and pride with his credentials and it was obnoxious."

And it finally all made sense.

Again, the counseling certificates.

"Each certificate comes with your name and qualifications with a beautiful gold seal signed by our director and executive secretary. These certificates are made for framing and to be placed where your counselee's are able to view." [sic] [bold mine]

[1]. http://www.landmarkbaptistchurchtyler.com/site/cpage.asp?cpage_id=180017978&sec_id=180006900
[2]. http://www.landmarkbaptistchurchtyler.com/site/cpage.asp?cpage_id=180019156&sec_id=180007333
[3]. ibid.

Of course, I look forward to hearing from some sycophants that I'm being mean and callous. So for you, I leave you this:

DISCLAIMER: If you pretend to be a doctor and to have accomplishments on your resume that you invented from whole cloth and thin air, then I reserve the right to speak badly about you in public and expose you as a fake.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Casey Anthony

CASEY ANTHONY

I have to confess my true belief about this case. I believe Casey was innocent.

I can go back to when I was six years old. The "Trial of the Century", OJ Simpson, on trial for murder.

There was something that bothered me, even when I was a kid about that whole thing. Everyone around me was 100% sure that he was guilty. It was like they were in a frenzy, a whipped up mob. Most six year olds have never heard of a 'mob mentality' or know what it means, and neither did I, but I knew that's what was
happening. Even then, I felt the urge to break ranks with the mob.

Mobs are not led by logic. They lose all sense of logic and reasoning. Nevertheless, they sometimes come to correct conclusions. I came to learn years later, the reason people were so outraged about the Simpson case was he was absolutely guilty, 100% guilty. It made me relook at my belief about mobs and how at six, I could come to sympathize with the man. Inwardly, perhaps reflecting the truth of the ages, that the guilty are sentenced, but the innocent are dissected methodically and finally killed by a frenzied public, it seemed to me the mob no longer had reason at its disposal, and simply wanted blood.

As an adult, I had to become more rigorous in my implementation of logical precepts, I could no longer see  things so simply as I did at six, which perhaps was even wiser than the opinions of almost any of the adults at the time. But I couldn't see things so simply any more. I had to grow.

But my desire to break ranks with the herd and with my peers has grown too. I've come to conclusions in  many well-known cases that put me in the minority.

I defended George Zimmerman.

I defend Amanda Knox. While I will never be sure if she killed Meredith Kercher, I know the court did not  find against her and in America, she would be protected from double jeopardy. I think it would be a mistake to send her back.

Jon-Benet Ramsey... I believe her parents are responsible. I don't know that they killed their daughter, that doesn't make any sense. But it's obvious they know who did kill her and they helped to cover it up.

Casey Anthony. For a long time I can't say I had an opinion one way or the other. But her body language  gave it away for me. Especially at the end of the trial. She seemed not as one suffering at the thought of a guilty verdict, she seemed to be suffering more at the loss of her daughter. I didn't see anything that indicated that she was selfishly concerned about winning her case. Her body language said to me that even if she wins, she's still lost. I saw deep humanity in her. And I think she may know what happened. But I don't find her responsible and I agree with her acquittal. The idea that her partying after... None of us would have reacted in that way, it's hard to imagine a reasonable non-guilty suspect acting in that way. But that we can't imagine something or that it doesn't fit with our experience is no grounds to convict a person.

And that's why our legal system was so much to be praised over that of other society's. I know it was never perfect, but in light of the times in which it practiced, it was to be hailed over all others.

From what I gather, there was no evidence on which to convict Casey Anthony or George Zimmerman. There probably isn't much in the way of evidence to convict Amanda Knox. My belief on the Simpson verdict, it was motivated by race. The black jurors covered for him and he should have been convicted. Nevertheless, Simpson was a fine actor. But his acting didn't merely stop at Hollywood, it continued to murder, and then continued through court proceedings that eventually saw him acquitted.

This is all what some may see as contrary to my conservative values. I tend to vote Republican. Republicans tend to be big promoters of the prison industry. But I take the Constitution of the United States very seriously. It provides protections for those under criminal indictment.. That they are not savagely punished or fined, they are not coerced, that they have adequate representation, and are not unnecessarily delayed, in a fair proceeding tried by their peers.

Those are protections the same way speech, religious liberty, and gun rights are protections.

For a long time liberals seemed to be against the first half of the Bill of Rights but all about the second half.

The conservatives were about the first half but not the second.

It probably seems now that I've made my job to defend murderers and criminals. No, not at all. Edward  Kennedy should have been nailed when he killed Mary Jo Kopechne then tried to cover it up, of and  meanwhile, went home and fell asleep.

I just realized, my opponents call me a legalist.

I defend the

right to use drugs
the right to suicide
the right to gamble
the right to prostitution.

My system gives more rights than any other system I'm aware of. I know of no one who would give people more rights than what I would give.

I do believe murderers should be nailed. But there has to be evidence beyond all reasonable doubt, and nothing less. That means that we can't convict them all, some manage to go free. But it is better than the systems that other nations have that provide no protections for anyone. That's something we have to live with.

Personally, I think Casey Anthony has been put in a terrible position. She's probably at imminent risk of  being killed for the rest of her life, or at least for many years down the road. And I think it's tragic.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Norman Geisler on Subordinationism

Systematic Theology, Volume Two

p. 297
 

___________________________
Subordinationism

    "This heresy held by Justin Martyr (c. 100-c. 165) and Origen (c. 185-c. 254) and condemned at the Council of Constantinople (381). It asserts that the Son is subordinate in nature to the Father. Subordinationism is not to be confused with the orthodox belief that the Son (Christ) is functionally subordinate to (i.e., subject to) the Father, though essentially equal with him."



___________________________


Now this might be authentic and accord with history. One of my major contentions against trinitarianism is that trinitarians have forgot the aspect of functional subordination. They claim, ignorantly, that the Son is equal in authority to the Father, e.g. that He is not functionally subordinate but rather on an equal level in all respects.

Not all believers are called to be prophets and theologians. Nevertheless, many step into the foray of theology and assert essentially orthodox principles but do so imprecisely and without regard to the subtle distinctions that truly make theology a science. The absolute effect of this is that people like me are singled out and selected for abusive treatment by the 'orthodox'. They will bully and kick you out of their synagogues if you do not believe exactly what they say.

As we are on the topic of distinctions, let me add my own distinction: What Geisler records under this subheading may be the actual effect of the Council of Constantinople. However, its practical effect has been to confuse believers even more than they might have been otherwise. They are deeply afraid to assert the functional subordination that is a basic aspect of classical trinitarianism and are suspicious of the salvation of those who do. And even more so, they are openly hostile toward them.


"For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." [Matthew 11:30]

Jesus didn't create a faith for intellectuals to lord over the more humble in intellect. He didn't create a faith for theologians to endlessly speculate on and rewrite, so we could have the pleasure of deciding who is and who is not saved and making life unbearable for those we think are not. Christianity should be and still is an accessible faith, as long as the Pharisees get out of the way, and many Christians simply are Pharisees.

"And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in." [Matthew 23:12,13]