Westcott, Hort, Erasmus, Anglicans, and logical fallacies

While this post sits without apology within the realm of the version debate, it is not intended to take a side, nor to ignite that debate here. This post is to discuss a logical position as well as common fallacies within this sphere.

First, it should be noted that there are many logical fallacies committed on both sides. Often, these happen innocently, and sometimes they are purposeful. Especially obvious are fallacies such as “Poisoning the Well,” “Questionable Cause,” “Red Herring,” and “Straw Man.” I’m sure there are others. Fallacies are committed when the true argument of the other side is ignored.

It is my belief that the attack on Westcott and Hort (though often fallacious) is not of necessity so. The real attack against W&H is to attack the discarding of the centuries old tradition of the church. The attack is based on the beliefs of W&H (they did not believe in original inspiration). In fact, this belief is so basic that it might be said to be the beginning premise when it comes to the doctrine of Scripture — it is inspired and perfect, or it is not. It is then argued that the church today should not accept their work which derives from their premise. Though often times I have heard them attacked in ways that are fallacious, this argument is not so.

Every logical argument begins with a premise. Let’s look at an analogy that I invented. Suppose that the premise of the firefighters in your area is that their first priority is to save the people in the burning building. They do this best using a system of ladders, hoses, etc. They debate over the size of the trucks, length of the hoses, material of the ladders, etc. The firefighters from the next town over come to your town with a new system: jet packs, and trampolines. They argue that this is in fact a better system. They leave some equipment with a manual. The manual begins “This equipment is to help firefighters. We do not believe that the saving of the people in the burning building is of the highest importance. Indeed, it might not be very important at all.”

It is reasonable to question the equipment and method being proposed now because these men do not believe that saving the life is most important. Without this belief, we would wonder what drove them to produce such an odd system for saving people. Was it money? Was it fame? Was it boredom? What was it? Questioning their belief is not a fallacy because their whole argument on using their system over another has no basis in what qualifies as “best” since they begin with a different value system. “Best” has become relative because they do not prioritize saving life. If they prioritized having fun while on the job, then I’m certain their way is “best.”

This is what W&H are rightly (within the realm of logic) criticized for. W&H state in the beginning of their greek text “Little is gained by speculating as to the precise point at which such corruptions came in. They may have been due to the original writer, or to his amanuensis if he wrote from dictation, or they may be due to one of the earliest transcribers.” As this has been quoted before without being understood, let me clarify as much as possible that if corruptions occur with the original writer, then there is no doctrine of inspiration. If Paul wrote Romans with corruptions, then Romans has never been perfect. This is the whole doctrine of inspiration, and W&H denied this.

To attack their beliefs on anything else is fallacious. In the same way, to attack Erasmus for his beliefs, or the translators of the KJB for other beliefs not in any way applicable to the argument at hand is a pointless character attack. Stating that the translators were of the Anglican church says nothing of their skill or mindset at the work of translating. In fact, that is stated elsewhere.

Good debate can and should be had on this topic. The point dealing with H&W’s belief in inspiration is logical and should not be taken as a leap to which everyone will delve from the argument to attack non-vital (to the argument) beliefs for a few minutes after which it will all be ignored and then the original argument will be resumed.

Note, I have not here stated that the point is in fact correct, but that it is logically valid. That is my point. It is not a fallacy to argue that. Whether the argument wins or not is not discussed here.

Oh! How He loves us!!

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son” — John 3:16

Two years ago, I could not understand this the same way that I can now. Two years ago I did not have a daughter. I have read and heard this verse throughout my life more times than I can remember. I had been forced (by my life state) to imagine what love it might be like for God to send His only Son.

I had to consider the love I would need to give up my family, or friends. When I was married I would think of what it would mean to give up my wife for another, and yet, that is not the same as my daughter. My daughter is young, innocent (as can be), beautiful. I cannot imagine giving up my only daughter to save anyone. I cannot think of a single person. Though I love my wife dearly, I would still not give up my daughter to save the life of my wife were some tragic circumstance to force me to choose. This is what God did. Some of you are where I was some years back and can only imagine what it would be like to give up your child. But, as a matter of fact, I can only imagine as well, because I wouldn’t do it.

(Side note: I had some advice worth passing on. My friend told me “Some people say to wait 5, 7, or even 10 years to have kids. Don’t. The blessing is indescribable, and it isn’t worth waiting that long.” I would second that. I understand there are reasons and timing, but don’t give yourself a set number of years. Wait on the Lord and let Him direct it, because children surely bring such indescribable happiness.)

This child whom I love I would not give up. Not for anyone. However, some people have volunteered themselves at times.

7For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.” — Romans 5:7

You see, some people are willing to give of themselves to save another. They give more willingly to save more than one or a multitude. That is how bravery is often portrayed in our movies, and stories. Dying to save the innocent, or even the bad guys turning to good to save the good guys with their life. This is what we expect. But you don’t usually see the good guy dying to save the bad guy who stays bad. In fact, the good guy who would be willing to die for the bad guy would be seen as crazy. Even Lewis had Aslan die for Edmund after Edmund had already been turned to the good side. Aslan was not dying for a wicked person who remained wicked, that would not have made a good story.

“8But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

God gave Christ when we were sinners. That word, sinners, has grown on us. We do not think of a grotesque and horrendous person. We know we are sinners and we don’t want to think of us that way. Consider how gross sin is.

Remember your little sister growing up (and if you had no sister, think of a close female relative or friend) or remember the wife of your youth. Remember how much you cared for and protected her. Oh, what you would have done to protect her. Now, imagine the gross sinner that molests and rapes her. Those words stand out to us. That angers us and brings deep sorrow into our hearts. I imagine such a story has us responding as David “The man that hath done this thing shall surely die.”

In our analogy, this predator is the one for whom I must give up my daughter. This person that has destroyed the life of my beloved sister. This person who has created a breech upon our family, and who rightfully deserves death. This is the person I would be giving my precious Arielle to die in his place. That is who we all are as sinners.

We are sinners, and though we have grown accustomed to that word, we have done greater insult, harm, destruction, to the glory of God, and we deserve a fate far worse than death.

“8But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

17That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” — Ephesians 3:17-19

10Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

A political post with theological undercurrents

This is a political post. I don’t plan on turning this into a political blog, but I have been taking a renewed look at politics recently in light of some verses I’ve reread.

There are a great many candidates in the race for the republican party. Many of them take a good stand on many things. Most of them are off on things. As I look at the field and do my research on the subjects, candidates, and what our nation needs I have come to support Ron Paul. I believe that he offers something no one else does — an authoritative stance based solely on the constitution. This appeals to me as I base all authority in my life on the Scriptures. Having a source of authority different from myself and my personal opinions is huge. The difference between us of course is one is infallible, while the other is written and made by men.

The Constitution could and does have errors in it. Judging the constitution in the same way as one might look at Scripture would be a major mistake, but it is still a point to be commended that he holds to something other than himself.

He seems to be well educated and intelligent. He is a strong economist. He is for states rights. He seems to have a good plan to turn the country around and hes bold enough to actually do it. He is honest. This is huge for me since many people that go to Washington do not do what they say. If I can’t trust the guy telling me, then it doesn’t matter how good he sounds.

He seems to be right on so much, but there is a slight problem — foreign policy. His policy has many benefits to it. Looking at it from a constitutional stand point, he is probably correct. Viewing it from a security standpoint, I think that he may very well be on about that as well.

My problem is the consideration that his policy would no longer have the US as a firm supporter (were we or are we now?) of Israel. Now, there are national, and global reasons to support Israel as well. They are the only country over there with the same form of government and drive for freedom. They are like us in many ways, etc.

I want to consider the Biblical implications of no longer supporting Israel. How big an issue is this? Is it worth getting someone who is off on it if they are right on everything else? Is this the issue that would really remove God’s blessing from us, and though everything else turns around, we get cursed? Is this really a non-issue that we have looked at incorrectly for years? I don’t know that I have all the answers. I’ll give you what I do have though.

“Blessed is he that blesses thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee.”

This proclamation is first given to Abraham in Genesis 12. After, Isaac blesses Jacob this way. Later, Balaam proclaims the same thing when he blesses Israel. This last is important since the others are spoken directly to individuals rather than about the nation as a whole. The blessing was meant to continue past the individuals of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and to the nation. Several questions bear asking as we examine these verses.

Does this blessing only apply to the nation of Israel in the OT? This seems unlikely as there is no time frame or condition put upon the blessing. It is given to Israel, and though Israel at times was not a nation, and then was once again humanly speaking, in the eyes of God, it is still Israel, His people, and so the blessing still applies.

Should we only bless Israel when Israel is doing right as a nation? This one is more interesting and an easy “way out” if we are looking for a reason to not support Israel. Israel has rejected the Messiah. They have refused the promised Seed that they had been waiting for. But, consider that in the OT, any nation whom God used to punish Israel for sin was still judged for harming Israel. Israel deserved it, and God punished them, but those that dared to touch Israel were punished because that was the people of God. Those that cursed Israel were cursed. Those that bless Israel were blessed. So, we cannot abandon the blessing because of Israel’s morality.

What exactly constitutes blessing? This one is harder to pin down. Certainly what President Obama is doing has not been blessing. But looking back on our country, I wonder how much we have ever actually “blessed” Israel.

In 1922 Congress passed a resolution to support an established nation of Jews. When Israel became a nation, we were the first to recognize that. Since that time, we have supported them verbally, though through many of their conflicts we have done nothing else. We have helped with economic stability and food, but France provided the majority of their weapons for several decades. The Arab nations considered us fair to deal with until 1967 when we sided with Israel. Now they hate us. LBJ was a strong supporter of Israel as President and took us from the place of moderate support to wholehearted support. In ’68 we began the policy of giving Israel more qualitative military support than the nations around it though we still provided the other nations with weapons. With over 40 more years of history to cover, I will stop here.

What constitutes blessing? We supply them and their enemies with weapons and funding. We supply them with more than any individual country around them, but combined we supply their enemies with more than we do them. Are we trying to bless and curse them at the same time? Ron Paul (RP) is probably correct that the main reason the Arab nations hate us is because we support Israel, but looking at what we do, I wonder if that is something that can stop. It appears to be something that happened several decades ago that will not be forgotten and even if we do what RP suggests (drop all support for everyone) they will still hate us. But does that mean we have stopped blessing Israel? Are we no longer cursing them by supplying their enemies?

Paul derives some amazing things about Israel that I believe are often over-looked. In Romans 15:26-27

“For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.”

It is the duty of Gentiles to support the Jews in material things, because we are indebted to them for our salvation. Wow. That is not opinion. That is Paul by the Inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In what way does this duty connect to the blessing that we should give, and then will receive?

It appears to me that the best foreign policy for any nation is to operate in complete agreement with Israel and give no support to any of their enemies. No one takes that stand.

Second, if we remove support from everyone over there, US and Israeli economists have predicted that a stronger Israel will arise from that.

Third, if we remove our support of everyone, Israel will come out on top. I tend to think our current support of Israel constitutes little blessing, but our support of the Arab nations might constitute a greater curse. By removing all, we put ourselves in a neutral position.

Fourth, no one else (that I know of right now…and this could change) has a plan to strengthen our ties with Israel in regards to our funding of the Arab nations. Cain (and possibly others) is definitely more friendly verbally and in some decisive matters, but I don’t know that it is enough “blessing” to differ from the past several administrations, which seems pitiful to me.

Finally, where does this foreign policy argument rank among top political concerns? Well, it should rank very high. Our nations blessing or cursing can be found here. It is an abnormality in this dispensation since most promises we have are individual today, but the blessing of Israel can be a national thing. But, though it ranks high, it seems no candidates have a clear sense of how high it should rank, and thus they are all close to the same opinion, RP being on the weak end.

Is he so far to the weak end and another to the strong end that it discounts the big lead he has on them in other areas? For me, I’m honestly struggling. I like him and his stuff, but this is huge. If Israel gets attacked, he is not going to help them. Now that isn’t a big difference than other presidents who have done nothing, but is that something we can avoid? Possibly. If Israel goes on the offensive, he will do nothing, when in the past we have intervened to tell them they can’t do this or that. So that’s better for them. It is a double-edged sword.

We are in the last days. And though scholars and pastors have for decades guessed how “the end” will go, we really don’t know. It could very well be that RP wins, institutes his policy, Israel gets overwhelmed and we do nothing and the tribulation comes in with America not being destroyed or attacked or anything. We could get the best person for our country and still be a major factor in the end of this dispensation.

Of course, I’m of the opinion that without RP we will most likely crash as a country and be in a depression worse than the first one. This could have the same affect on the tribulation or not. Either way, I see us having little hope.

My head says there is little difference between any of these guys on whether or not we are really blessing Israel or cursing Israel. It says that Ron Paul is a neutral, while most other people try to play both sides. But my gut says that Cain will be a true strong supporter of Israel.

I’m conflicted, and I’m sorry to leave it that way. Hopefully there was some information here that was helpful to someone.

Judges and a bleak look towards the future

“If tomorrow all the things were gone,
I’d worked for all my life.
And I had to start again,
with just my children and my wife

I’d thank my God above,
to be livin here today.
‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom,
and they can’t take that away”

Ten years have passed and on that day we, the people of the United States, flooded the churches of this country. We prayed, and sought God as a country — with our lips. Yet, as the tragedy of the past turns into a faded memory for our country, and again we lend lip service, do we truly remember? Do we seek God’s face? Did we ever?

I heard yesterday that statistically, this recession we are going through is the first time (since they started recording) that our country has encountered hardship without turning to God. Church attendance has declined during the past ten. It has not maintained nor grown since that horrible day. Like the days of Israel under the Judges, we have turned from God.

Israel would turn to God when trouble came, as we did ten years ago. Then they would abandon God when that trouble was gone. Each time it took them longer to turn to God again. Consider the things that have happened in our nation since we were founded on Biblical principles, and consider if we are again revealing our hard hearts.

People all around this nation have either heard and/or sung the song I quoted above. “‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom,
and they can’t take that away.”

They have already determined what light bulbs you can or cannot use. They have replaced the toilets with toilets that they think are better. States have made smoking, triple layer chocolate pies, etc. all illegal. This is where our country is, and it isn’t hard to see where it is going. We discern the signs of the sky when the sky is red and lowering, but can we not discern the signs of the times? Can we not look at what is happening with our eyes open instead of buried in the sand?

Our freedom is disappearing. We sing the song that they can’t take it while we willingly give it to them. We abandon our freedom in favor of a token protection. We have given up our right to our personal privacy, and allow ourselves to be publicly shamed in our airports. Where is the outrage? Those in charge knew that the outrage at the implementation of a thing quickly fades into grudging acceptance. No-fly days were scheduled to show the outrage, but those are gone and people fly like normal.

The thing about it is that it is not a political problem. It is a heart problem. It is the problem of sin, and hardness of heart. We have turned against God.

We are not Israel. We have never had promises of God to our nation. We have individual promises of God to us believers. Our nation is promised nothing. God’s people within this nation are dwindling. Elijah was not the last faithful man in Israel, but the 7,000 (about 874 BC) that were there were not enough to prevent the soon conquering of Israel (722 BC). And that was with God’s chosen people. How many righteous remain here, and how many is enough to stay God’s hand of judgment and receive His long-suffering?

Abraham prayed for Sodom and Gomorrah and asked for ten souls for the mercy of those cities. God granted his request, yet there were not ten souls. Are people here even praying for the long-suffering of God, and begging forgiveness for our sins? If we are, have we any hope that indeed there will be found ten righteous?

What of the future? Don’t be afraid of it. God is working as always. Be sorrowful for our country. Weep for our sin. Pray for repentance, and mercy. Pray for judgment against sin. Be excited but recognize that our freedom is dwindling quickly.

My daughter’s generation may not know the country I know. I expect she won’t. It isn’t fear mongering. People are too hopeful to think of what might come. It sounds like fiction to think of curfews, concentration camps, limited movement, and persecution. It sounds like a movie to think of restrictions on food, press, and speech. It could be the next 20 years.

My daughter will have to live in the world my generation has created for her. I’m not proud of what that looks like. People think that removing our current president is the answer. No, it is one quite small piece of the total problem. I pray for but do not anticipate God’s long-suffering. I think we are seeing His judgment in President Obama and I expect we have terrible days ahead.

Ignoring the signs of a hurricane can be devastating. You know its coming and pretend its not and that is bad. But when you never look up and never listen, you will not only be utterly shocked, but caught off guard, angry, and helpless. May God grant strength to his people in times to come.

A pillar to God’s unspeakable greatness

“Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!”

My pastor has mentioned frequently through the past few months the idea of remembering what God has done. And he has done so at times by speaking of the Israel tradition of erecting a pillar of remembrance for what God has done. The patriarchs did this. The Israelites did this. God has worked in a mighty way this week, and while I praise him with my lips, and declare his glory in person, I want to record here what great things the Lord has done for me.

“Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!”

My wife grew up in an abusive home. She was the oldest of six, and the two youngest girls were still in the home. They wanted to leave, but had years to wait till they turned 18. Since before we were married we discussed how we might get the girls out. We talked to Pastors, friends, and family. We looked for help, and found none. We prayed and doors were not open. The every day life in the house was abusive, but every few months something would go far worse. At these times we would again consider, talk, and pray.

“Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!”

Last Saturday things happened that once again caused us to want to pursue legal action. Sunday things got worse. And God began to work.

“Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!”

I got off the phone with social services at 12:30pm Monday afternoon. By 4:30pm there was a police officer and investigator at the house. This, I am told, is unheard of. Within another two hours the girls were removed and put into the custody of their older sister who was in the area. This too was worked by Providence as she had just moved to WI from Florida.

“Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” Praise the Lord for his goodness and his kindness. He rescued the afflicted from the persecutors. He delivered them from their torment. The heathen raged, and were brutish; but our Savior did deliver the needy.

The situation was temporary until they could go before a judge. The judge would decide if the girls would go back, or if the process could continue. That happened Wednesday.  Churches, friends, and family prayed. People fasted before God beseeching Him for mercy towards the girls and that justice would be done. God answered and another vicotry was seen. For now they will stay with their sister through the coming court dates and meetings. Eventually my wife and I will try to go through the process of becoming their guardians. We still need prayer, but God has worked miraculously in these few days, and for this I will praise Him.

“Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” The Lord heard from Heaven. He inclined His ear towards His people. He looked in mercy upon the broken-hearted, and stretched forth His hand in justice towards the wicked. Strength was given to those without that they might speak truly; the Lord confounded the wicked.

“Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” The wicked harden their hearts, and turn from the Lord. They curse and refuse to repent. Therefore, the Lord has given them to their sin, to wallow in their misery. They have no joy. Bitterness and hatred dwells in their habitation.

But those that fear the Lord shall flourish. God has granted grace to his servants.

“Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.” “Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy.” O Lord we praise thee for thy mercy towards thy servants. We thank thee for thy bountiful goodness and wisdom. “The afflicted people thou wilt save, but thine eyes are upon the haughty, that thou mayest bring them down.” “Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!”

Psalm 107:8, 15, 21, 31; Psalm 103:1; Gen. 19:19; 2 Sam. 22:28