Sunday, February 26, 2006

Henry Morris (1918-2006)

Word has come of the passing at age 87 of one of the most influential men on the American cultural scene for the last fifty years. Henry Morris, the founder of the Institute for Creation Research, probably did more in that time than any other single individual (except perhaps his partner Duane Gish) to increase skepticism about the claims of materialistic evolutionists. In his many books he tirelessly pointed out the deficiencies of the neo-Darwinian synthesis, and his work inspired thousands of others to question the fundamental assertions of the neo-Darwinians.

Morris was a Biblical literalist who held to an adamantine conviction that Genesis 1 and 2, and indeed the whole Bible, is true in all that it asserts. He thus found himself at odds with old-earth creationists like Hugh Ross and a little leery of intelligent design theorists who made no claims at all about Genesis. Morris believed that the earth and life were created in six days 10,000 years ago and that to waver from this belief was to jeopardize the trustworthiness of the scriptures. He had no time for theistic evolution and other variants of what he saw as a capitulation to the Darwinians. Nevertheless, even those who disagreed with him on these and other matters have been profoundly influenced by his critique of the inadequacies of all materialistic explanations of origins.

Whether one agreed with him or not, he performed valiant service in questioning the shibboleths of the Darwinian orthodoxy, challenging its votaries in public debate, and doing more, together with Gish, to raise public awareness of its weaknesses than anyone else since Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1859.

Even when I disagreed with him he was a powerful influence on my own early thinking, and I owe him a lot. He has been around so long that even though he was of advanced years his death comes as a bit of a shock. He will be deeply missed by all who value his wonderful and indefatigable service.

Cui Bono?

Bill Roggio assesses the reports from Iraqi bloggers, the military, and news outlets and concludes that the threat of civil war in Iraq is abating. The Iraqi people are evidently calming themselves enough to ask of the Golden Dome mosque bombing, cui bono? There are lots of possibilities: Iran, "Mookie" al Sadr, Sunni insurgents, but the answer keeps coming up al-Qaeda. No one else, as Roggio points out, really benefits from destroying the mosque - no one except al-Qaeda, of course, which has been trying to foment civil war in Iraq for two years.

Al-Qaeda is indeed the obvious villain in this piece, but what's obvious is, unfortunately, often irrelevant when there's an excuse for disciples of the religion of peace to take to the streets to kill each other.

An Aussie Churchill

Where can we find politicians like this here in America? The following is the last part of a speech given recently by Peter Costello, Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia and likely heir to Prime Minister John Howard:

The Australian Citizenship Oath or Affirmation tries to capture the essence of what it means to be Australian, it reads as follows:

"From this time forward [under God] I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties I respect and whose laws I will uphold and obey."

To be an Australian citizen one pledges loyalty first:- loyalty to Australia. One pledges to share certain beliefs: democratic beliefs; to respect the rights and liberty of others; and to respect the rule of law.

There is a lot of sense in this pledge. Unless we have a consensus of support about how we will form our legislatures and an agreement to abide by its laws - none of us will be able to enjoy our rights and liberties without being threatened by others.

We have a compact to live under a democratic legislature and obey the laws it makes. In doing this the rights and liberties of all are protected. Those who are outside this compact threaten the rights and liberties of others. They should be refused citizenship if they apply for it. Where they have it they should be stripped of it if they are dual citizens and have some other country that recognizes them as citizens.

Terrorists and those who support them do not acknowledge the rights and liberties of others - the right to live without being maimed, the right to live without being bombed - and as such they forfeit the right to join in Australian citizenship.

The refusal to acknowledge the rule of law as laid down by democratic institutions also stabs at the heart of the Australian compact. The radical Muslim Cleric Ben Brika was asked in an interview on the 7.30 Report in August last year:

"But don't you think Australian Muslims - Muslims living in Australia - also have a responsibility to adhere to Australian law?"

To which he answered: "This is a big problem. There are two laws - there is an Australian law and there is an Islamic law."

No, this is not a big problem. There is one law we are all expected to abide by. It is the law enacted by the Parliament under the Australian Constitution. If you can't accept that then you don't accept the fundamentals of what Australia is and what it stands for.

Our State is a secular State. As such it can protect the freedom of all religions for worship. Religion instructs its adherents on faith, morals and conscience. But there is not a separate stream of law derived from religious sources that competes with or supplants Australian law in governing our civil society. The source of our law is the democratically elected legislature.

There are countries that apply religious or sharia law - Saudi Arabia and Iran come to mind. If a person wants to live under sharia law these are countries where they might feel at ease. But not Australia.

And the citizenship pledge should be a big flashing warning sign to those who want to live under sharia law. A person who does not acknowledge the supremacy of civil law laid down by democratic processes cannot truthfully take the pledge of allegiance. As such they do not meet the pre-condition for citizenship.

Before entering a mosque visitors are asked to take off their shoes. This is a sign of respect. If you have a strong objection to walking in your socks don't enter the mosque. Before becoming an Australian you will be asked to subscribe to certain values. If you have strong objections to those values don't come to Australia.

We need to be very clear on these issues. There are some beliefs, some values, so core to the nature of our society that those who refuse to accept them refuse to accept the nature of our society.

If someone cannot honestly make the citizenship pledge, they cannot honestly take out citizenship. If they have taken it out already they should not be able to keep it where they have citizenship in some other country.

Of course this is not possible for those that are born here and have no dual citizenship. In these cases we have on our hands citizens who are apparently so alienated that they do not support what their own country stands for.

Such alienation could become a threat to the rights and liberties of others. And so it is important to explain our values, explain why they are important, and engage leadership they respect to assist us in this process. Ultimately however it is important that they know that there is only one law and it is going to be enforced whether they acknowledge its legitimacy or not.

It will be a problem if we have a second generation - the children of immigrants who have come to Australia - in a twilight zone where the values of their parents' old country have been lost but the values of the new country not fully embraced. To deal with this we must clearly state the values of Australia and explain how we expect them to be respected.

I suspect there would be more respect for these values if we made more of the demanding requirements of citizenship. No one is going to respect a citizenship that is so undemanding that it asks nothing. In fact our citizenship is quite a demanding obligation. It demands loyalty, tolerance and respect for fellow citizens and support for a rare form of government - democracy.

People will not respect the citizenship that explains itself on the basis of the mushy multiculturalism I have described earlier. We are more likely to engender respect by emphasizing the expectations and the obligations that the great privilege of citizenship brings. We have a robust tolerance of difference in our society. But to maintain this tolerance we have to have an agreed framework which will protect the rights and liberties of all. And we are asking our citizens - all our citizens - to subscribe to that framework.

I do not like putrid representations like "Piss Christ". I do not think galleries should show them. But I do recognize they should be able to practice their offensive taste without fear of violence or a riot. Muslims do not like representation of the Prophet. They do not think newspapers should print them. But so too they must recognize this does not justify violence against newspapers, or countries that allow newspapers to publish them.

We are asking all our citizens to subscribe to a framework that can protect the rights and liberties of all. These are Australian values. We must be very clear on this point. They are not optional. We expect all those who call themselves Australians to subscribe to them. Loyalty, democracy, tolerance, the rule of law: values worth promoting, values worth defending. The values of Australia and its citizens.

I'm almost tempted to emigrate to Australia just to be able to vote for this guy.

Liberal Theology

Janet Howe Gaines specializes in the Bible as literature in the Department of English at the University of New Mexico, and teaches Hebrew. Her account of the story of Jezebel as told in the Bible can be found here.

How bad was Jezebel? The Deuteronomist uses every possible argument to make the case against her. When Ahab dies, the Deuteronomist is determined to show that 'there never was anyone like Ahab, who committed himself to doing what was displeasing to the Lord, at the instigation of his wife Jezebel' (1 Kings 21:25). It is interesting that Ahab is not held responsible for his own actions.(8) He goes astray because of a wicked woman. Someone has to bear the writer's vituperation concerning Israel's apostasy, and Jezebel is chosen for the job.

It would almost be humorous if it wasn't so sad. Ms Howe Gaines seems to think that the "Deuteronomist" has an axe to grind regarding Jezebel and apparently misses the point that the "Deuteronomist" was inspired by God and communicated what God would have us to know. While the "Deuteronomist" may be the "writer", it is God who is the author.

This is another example of how liberal theology questions, criticizes, and distorts the Word of God because it offends one's sensibilities. At the link above Ms Howe Gaines attempts to portray Jezebel in a different light. Oh, if it were so but the reality is that God, through Elijah proclaimed she would be eaten by dogs and little would be left of her because of her actions.

It may be that Ms Howe Gains might simply be a frustrated, liberated, feminist desperately trying to posit another perspective of Jesebel in an effort to rewrite history or you may have other reasons to question my position, but before you reach a conclusion, I'd suggest you consider the wisdom of E.W. Bullinger's work regarding those who undertake "higher criticism" in his Numbers in Scripture where he says this:

Heb 4:12
kptikos- (kritikos) " (critic)"

This is the origin of our word "critic." The Greek word is kritikos and "critic" is merely the English spelling of the Greek word, which is transliterated. It means able to judge or skilled in judging; and then , simple a judge, but always with the idea of his ability to judge. kptikos appears only in Hebrews iv. 12, where it is translated " a discerner," Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

The whole passage relates both to the written Word, which is a sword ( ): and to the living Word ( Christ), who has a sword.

The structure of the two verses distinguishes between God and his word:-

A 12. God it is whose Word is so wonderful.
B 12. What his word IS ( Living, powerful and a harp sword).
C 12. What his word DOES ( piercing and dividing asunder, etc,).
B 12. What his word IS ( a skilled judge).
A 13. God who is omniscient.

[My note: The above is what is called a structure. It is an outline of sorts that may take different forms. The entire Bible can be mapped as a structure with smaller structures being found within the larger ones. The topic makes for a fascinating study and often is quite useful in determining the context and meaning of a passage.]

Here we have in A and A, God the omniscient one; and in B, C and B we have his word. And we learn that the Word of God is a judge now, so wonderful that it distinguished between the thoughts and the intentions of the heart and judges them. The Master Himself bares witness that the same Word will be our judge there after---John xii.48, "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day."

What a solemn truth, And how much more solemn, when man now dares to take this one word "critic" or " Judge," Which God has thus, by His only once using it, appropriated to His Word, and applied it to himself, And what is it that man is going to judge? Why the every word of God! thus making himself the judge of that Word which is to judge him! If the word kritikos were of frequent occurrence, and used of various things or persons, man might perhaps be led to look on himself as a judge of some one of them. But God has used it only once, and He has thus confined it to one thing--- His Word. Therefore it is a daring presumption for man to transfer the word to himself. Not only does man do this, but he calls his work " higher Criticism."

Now there is a criticism which is lawful, because it judges not God's Word, but man's work as to the manuscripts; this is called Textual Criticism , which is quite different thing. But this " Higher criticism, is nothing but human reasoning; It is nothing more than the imagination of man's heart---those very thoughts and intentions which the Word its self judges!

What confusion! What perversion! and what folly! for the further man's criticsm departs from the domain of evidence and enters on the sphere of reason, the " higher" he calls it!

That is to say, the less like a skilled judge he acts, the higher he exalts his judgement! Poor man! Oh that you would submit yourself to this Word For it must either judge you now in this day of grace, and give you conviction of sin; or it will be your judge in the last day, when every mouth will be stopped, and you will be " speechless" and " without "excuse."

God has given us a message through this account of Jesebel and it is sad that it can be so difficult for some people to accept it. Perhaps Ms Howe Gaines will explain her rationale to God when she meets him. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31) and I suspect people who play fast and loose with the Scriptures, much to their dismay, will come to that realization.

Thought For Today

From E.W. Bullinger's Numbers in Scripture

Where there are more wills than one, there can be no peace, no rest. There must necessarily be conflict and confusion. This is the secret of all disturbance in families, parties, and nations.

We sometimes hear of a "Dual Control," but it is a fiction. It exists only in words, not in reality! This is the secret of rest for the heart now-"One will." As long as there are two wills there can be no peace. As long as our will is not subject to God's will, we cannot know what rest is.

This is where the Lord Jesus, as man, found rest in the midst of His rejection. In Matthew 11, John the Baptist doubts, vv. 2, 3; the people of that generation reject Him, vv. 16-19; the cities which saw His mightiest works do not believe, vv. 20-24. Then we read in the next verses (25,26), "AT THAT TIME Jesus answered and said, I THANK THEE, O FATHER, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes, EVEN SO FATHER; for so it seemed good in Thy sight." And then turning to his weary servants, the subjects of similar trials and disappointments, He says, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."

In other words, rest is to be found only in subjection to the Father's will. This is the secret of present rest for our souls. This is the secret of Millennial peace and blessing for the earth.

How simple! and yet what strangers we are to this rest! How the Lord's servants are rushing hither and thither to find this great blessing, and yet do not enter into it! Why is this? It is because we do not believe that His will is better than our own? If we were occupied with the Lord instead of with ourselves, with the Blesser instead of with our "blessing," we should soon have such a sense of His grace and glory and power as would convince us that His will is better than ours; and then, instead of being busy with ourselves and enquiring how we are to give up our will, we should see that His is so good that we really loathe our own, and desire only His.

This blessing is not gained by any "act of surrender" or "act of faith," but our own will simply vanishes in the contemplation of his will as we see it to be all-gracious and all-good.

Man's modern methods all begin at the wrong end. They begin with ourselves, they occupy us with ourselves, and hence the failure. The Divine method puts "God First," and thus the end is assured.

It is when our hearts are so before God and so with God, that we learn the wondrous wisdom of His way, and the perfection, sweetness, and blessedness of His will. We yearn to possess it, we long for it, and desire to come into its joy; and our own will vanishes without an effort, and without our knowing it, until we discover afterwards what has happened by a happy experience.

In Millennial days this will be the blessing of the whole earth. For in that day there shall be one King, one will, "one Lord, and His name one."

What a spiritual giant.