Saturday, January 31, 2004

Too much fuss over Gibson's `Passion'?

By WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, Jan. 30, 2004, Houston Chronicle

"The argument over Mel Gibson's dramatization of the death of Jesus needs analysis, and this is not difficult to undertake, even for those who have not seen the movie, scheduled for release in February, on Ash Wednesday.

The plot line is remarkably brief. The biblical writers had no interest whatever in the kind of thing that interests Mel Gibson. He has taken on, after all, the greatest drama in human history, the crucifixion of the Jew who claimed divinity and persuaded much of the civilized world to accept his word. Matthew handles the whole thing -- from the order given down by Pilate, to the expiration of Jesus -- in less space than is taken by this newspaper column.

In that account, one line is spoken that most grievously offends several Jewish critics who have seen the two-hour film... "

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Getting to the Altar on Time
Gerard V. Bradley in National Review Online January 22, 2004, 9:09 a.m.

"On Tuesday night, President Bush moved perceptibly closer to supporting a federal marriage amendment. But he stopped short of endorsing the idea, and gave no clue about which version — if any — he would ultimately get behind.

In his State of the Union address, Bush said, "Activist judges...have begun redefining marriage by court order, without regard for the will of the people and their elected representatives. On an issue of such great consequence, the people's voice must be heard. If judges insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people, the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional process."

Now, if these words had passed the lips of our last president, one would scarcely be able to grasp their meaning. Bush makes no mention of an amendment at all. "Constitutional process" is a wide-open term..."

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Bible Gateway : Revelation 10:2-4;: "He had a little scroll open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea, and his left foot on the land, and called out with a loud voice, like a lion roaring. When he called out, the seven thunders sounded. And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven saying, 'Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down.'"

This past year a certain somebody, who will deservedly remain un-named here, wrote a book on the end times with the sub-title "How Could Everybody Be So Wrong about Biblical Prophecy". No, I did not waste my time reading this book, as I was already familiar with this writer's views on eschatology. I confess a certain skepticism and dismay came to mind in reading that sub-title. There is a degree of arrogance and lack of humility in that sub-title that has been characteristic of this particular writer's minstry in the past.

The passage from Revelation 10, regarding the seven thunders, should be enough to give all in the different camps of eschatology pause. Yes, we can know true things about the end times, but this passage insures we will not know everything about the end times until it happens. John tells us there were things he was told that he was prohibited from writing down. If we are not humble when wrestling through the things that were written down, this passage should make us humble, no matter how much we think we have the end times figured out.

~ The Billy Goat ~

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Is Your Church Free from Cultic Tendencies

[It is very possible for a church, to be orthodox in doctrine and to still exhibit cultic tendencies. I found a disturbing number of these points described my former church, and amplified the reasons we left that church. Here is a checklist for responsible Christians, from the Spiritual Counterfeits Project . ~The Billy Goat ~ ]

"The following checklist of cultic tendencies by Charles Lesser was published in the October, 1991 Spiritual Counterfeits Project Newsletter. They are typical of a number of aberrational cultic groups and churches on the scene today.

1. Is your pastor fully accountable to a board of elders, presbyters, etc?
2. Is loyalty to Jesus and to one's own calling placed before loyalty to pastor and church?
3. Does your pastor encourage questions and suggestions? Is he approachable?
4. Does your pastor give equal attention to all kinds of people in his congregation?
5. Does your pastor readily admit his errors?
6. Does your pastor avoid boasting or hinting at a "special anointing"?
7. Is your pastor truly humble?
8. Are the sermons based on clear Biblical truths, not on "original revelations" or ax-grinding?
9. Does your church interact with other churches?
10. Does your church staff avoid secrecy?
11. Is power shared in your church (rather than preempted by a hierarchy)?
12. Does your church see itself as just one organ of the Body of Christ, and not the main one?
13. Is your church truly friendly?
14. Does your church emphasize ministry to people rather than church programs?
14. Are especially needy people cared for lovingly in your church?
15. Are church members encouraged and loved even when they leave?
16. Are relationships with former members encouraged or allowed?
17. Do the pastor and congregation avoid attacking and using as object lessons, former members or those who disagree?
18. Are families encouraged to stay together and spend time together?
19. Does your family worship Sunday service include children, at least for part of the service?
20. Are you encouraged in your own calling?
21. Are pleas for money rare and unemotional?
22. Are your children happy to attend church?
23. Are you happy to bring unsaved friends to your church?
24. Is there a diversity of classes, races, dress styles, ages, and occupations in your church?
25. Are people encouraged to hear from God for themselves?
26. Is there a single behavior standard for all people in the church?
27. Are all types of people considered welcome at your church?
28. Is the joy of the Lord present in your church?
29. Are you free from fear in your church?
30. Do you think more about God and Jesus than you do about your pastor and church?
31. Does your pastor include himself in any calls for repentance and forgiveness?
32. Are you clear that the pastors and elders never exaggerate or lie to make themselves look good?
33. Is your group encouraging of each other and free from gossip and rumoring?
34. Is there a humility of doctrine that points to the grace of God and His mercy for sinners?
35. Are you encouraged to serve in ministries or missions outside the local body?
36. Is there ever any pressure put upon members to give or lend money to leaders for their personal or business use (exclusive of church business or projects)? "

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

The Australian: Beagle ignores mothership's pleas [January 08, 2004]

"THE Beagle 2 remained ominously silent last night as the European Space Agency (ESA) renewed efforts to contact the tiny probe that landed on Mars on Christmas Day.

Beagle 2 was to have emitted a nine-note ditty penned by Britpop band Blur to announce its safe arrival on the red planet, but scientists have not heard from the probe since it was launched from its mothership, Mars Express.

NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter and several radio telescopes have so far been unable to obtain a signal from the probe.

But last night, Mars Express came within 315km of the Beagle 2's landing site near the planet's equator, giving ESA its best chance yet to make contact with the lander..."

Our British friends are having trouble finding their Beagle. Those of us who have a Beagle for a pet can tell them exactly what happened. Obviously upon landing on Mars, the Beagle immediately started sniffing around and found a scent trail. Beagle owners everywhere know what that means. That Beagle is on the trial and so totally focused on the scent that said Beagle hears nothing of it's outraged master's command to halt, stop, come back, or etc... A Beagles brain is in its nose, and as Beagle owners also know, Beagles are dogs of very little brain. In spite of that we love them anyhow.

~ The Billy Goat ~

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Suffering for an Evangelical Faith
An Address to the National Evangelical Anglican Congress, Blackpool, England, 9/21/03
by Peter Moore, Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry

"...By any standards of measurement I am privileged, comfortable, secure, and as the string of degrees after my name indicates educated well beyond my intelligence. I have money in the bank, even a beat up old sports car in the garage at home. My wife doesn’t have to work. I grew up in the affluent suburbs of New York, got a scholarship to an elite private school, went to an Ivy league university, have a degree from Oxford, and – though I need to say it sotto voce these days – was baptized and cradled from birth in that bosom of the religious establishment, the Episcopal Church. What can I possibly say about suffering that can hold a candle to what so many others can tell you?

A significant handicap
I do, however, have one significant handicap. Because of it I am branded as an untouchable in some circles. I am treated with polite disdain and occasionally castigated as ignorant, bigoted, intolerant, homophobic, simplistic – and even dangerous. Three times when I have spoken in public I thought graciously and sanely I have had to have bodyguards. In certain circles I notice at social occasions I must initiate every conversation, and especially within certain parts of the Church the institutions with which I am identified are held in virtual contempt by people in positions of authority. My handicap? I am an evangelical...

Evangelical is a dirty word in American Episcopal circles – at least when it means something other than old Virginia low churchmanship with its fondness for Morning Prayer. And to be described as a "British evangelical" puts you just about on the bottom rung of the ladder..."