Monday, December 26, 2005

The Black Cat In the Dark Room
"My philosophy teacher in college once said, "A philosopher is a blind man, in a dark room, looking for a black cat, that is not there."

"..It is one thing to say that you use principles in Scripture to build a system, and quite another to say you can do what ever you like. Likewise, it is one thing to build a system on 'necessary consequences' instead of actual Bible texts and admit that logic supplied many of your 'facts,' and quite another thing to build a system with logic and then boast that your entire system is totally biblical. It is one thing to believe you have caught the cat,1 but it is quite another to bring him out of the dark room of your own prejudices and sit him under the clear light of biblical texts of Scripture..." (John Reisinger)

" Sometimes, the Bible doesn’t give you enough evidence, one way or the other, to settle a question beyond the possibility of a continuing discussion and debate. If this is true, and if the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit does not remove this ambiguity, then there are points beyond which dicsussion and debate ought to proceed only with considerable and generous amounts of respectful humility." (
The Humility Zone)

One of my convictions is that I do not have to have hard, set in stone, convictions on every last little detail of theology, and that there are areas of theology where I should hold my own convictions with a loose hand, and a great deal of humility. The above articles by John Reisinger and Michael Spencer articulate some of the same concerns. To say such is not a deniel of the sufficancy of Scripture. On the contrary it is an affirmation of the sufficency of Scripture. I've seen ministries where it was insisted that the "black cat" was indeed in the room. What I saw in those ministries was not very pretty at all. In fact it often became really ugly. We have not been called to the boundage of men.

Sola Scriptura!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Ekklesia of Christ - Part Three
(The use of authority in the local church.)
by John G. Reisinger

In a church I was once a part of, and in a noticeable part of the movement that church was part of, John Resinger was persona non grata. We knew he existed, but his name was not to be mentioned unless in that certain tone of voice that, without going into detail, would let the un-initiated know that Brother John didn't cross all our "t"'s and dot all our "i"'s, and as such was to be shunned as someone who should know better, but... Well, you get the picture...

Having been away from that church and movement for several years, I've had opportunity to more objectively evaluate John Reisinger and his ministry. I have found that years before he had come to conclusions that I only more recently had come to in the light of experience and Scripture. The above article touches on some of those issues.

The above article is part three of his discussion on The Ekklesia of Christ. The first part can be found here, and the second part of the series can be found here, with part four and five here and here.

Let me conclude by quoting the first paragraph from this third article.

"The theme of this third article on the ekklesia deals with authority. This is the main issue in nearly all discussions of the ekklesia of Christ. Several years ago a group of Reformed Baptist pastors published a book entitled Shepherding God's Flock. The book was specifically aimed at trying to correct a growing problem of abusive eldership within that movement. The very fact the book was written and published is testimony to the severity of the problem about which these men were concerned. It is obvious that there are a lot of elders in that movement, and in other movements, who are acting like mini-popes. These writers evidently felt a moral obligation to the church to expose such tyranny. The introduction says it all:.."

'nuff said.

~ The Billy Goat ~

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Post-Modern Culture Meets the Magic Kingdom
The World of Harry Potter

Yes, I've read the Harry Potter books, all six of them. Yes, I've seen the movies, including the latest release, The Goblet of Fire. No, these are not books for young children to read. I avoided that quandary because my youngest daughter was a teenager when I let her read the first book. Yes, she and I have talked about it.

Actually there is nothing really profound about the title to this post. What would we expect? J.K. Rowling was not writing a philosophy of life with the Potter books, but the books reflect a philosophy of life, and it's not just the witchcraft and magic. Rowling is a child of her age, and the Harry Potter books reflect that age in a context of magic. What did we expect?

Suits of armor singing Christmas carols, Christmas trees in the halls of Hogwarts in December, Easter is mentioned, but what do those mean in the world of Harry Potter? The same thing they mean in the secularist post-modern Britain that is the setting of Rowling's life, a feel good tradition with little real meaning.

But even the world of Harry Potter longs for redemption. Has Snape, the former deatheater, really changed for the better? Your heart wants to say yes in spite of all the apparent evidence to the contrary. At the end of book six, The Half-Blood Prince, for the first time in all the years Harry has known Draco Malfoy, he finally actually feels some pity for him. Is there redemption even for Draco? We'll have to wait for the seventh and final book to find out.

The world of Harry Potter is broken even as our world is. The world of Harry Potter is filled with imperfect people, and even the heroes are clearly flawed. So it is in our world. It remains to be seen if there will be any redemption in the world of Harry Potter. In our world, redemption has been made manifest in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, and the final consummation of that redemption is yet to come. That is our blessed hope.

Sola Deo Gloria!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Monday, November 14, 2005

Creation and the Fall: I am beginning to feel the impact of the fall on creation to a greater degree then ever before in my 56 years. God has been VERY good to me health wise over my life time. Aside from a few stitches here and there as a kid, I've not up to this point had to have any surgery or go through any serious illness.

That changed this past week. There was a problem with this old body that needed surgical repair. Not to many years ago, the surgery required would have called for a week in the hospital for recovery. Now days it's an out-patient procedure. (Thank you LORD!) A few days off work, and back I go. It helps that my job does not involve any repetitive or heavy lifting.

This recovery time has been opportunity to reflect on the subject of pain. Frankly when it comes to pain, I admit I'm something of a wimp... I don't like pain, and if I can legitimately do so, I avoid it. I've thought of that in terms of the pain Christ went through for me. The servant is not above the Master. Pain is part of the fall and even as a believer, I am not immune. What physical pain I have felt in my life time is nothing compared to what Christ went through when He suffered on our behalf.

Nor does it compare to the physical pain and suffering other believers are going through. Our friend Lola is going through pain. She is a believer. Believers in closed countries are going through suffering and pain for the sake of the Name of Christ.

Yes there are other kinds of pain in life beside physical pain, and some of those I have experienced. But in all the different kinds of pain a believer can go through, physical or otherwise, one thing remains as a common denominator for them all... God's grace is sufficient...

In His grace alone,

~ The Billy Goat ~

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Rosa Parks - R.I.P
February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005

"Stand up and be counted", we say. On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks counted more them any of us by refusing to stand up. When she refused to stand up she was not only affirming the dignity and humanity of black Americans, she was affirming the dignity and humanity of us all. There is a fundamental respect to be given to all humanity whatever their skin color.

She did more then that one thing though. By her quiet and dignified life she was an example others who are always seeking center stage should take a cue from.

Her seven hour funeral will be little remembered. To my knowledge no great oratory came from the numbers of public speakers, famous or infamous, who were there; apparently nothing to equal the words spoken so many years ago, "I have a dream..." that gave a vision that all human beings could relate to.

How odd it was. That night after her funeral I was at our local Meijers store. At the checkout line I was standing behind a black American family having their purchases checked by a black American cashier.

It was then I turned to look at the magazine rack. On the front covers of all the glamor rags and tabloids there was not one black face. They were all pale white. I wondered if I had been black, what would I have thought if I saw all pale faces on the magazine rack like that.

Now it may be considered a positive thing not to be represented on shallow glamour rags and cheap sleeze tabloids with all their cheap meaningless gossip. Where is the dignity and respect for humanity in those publications?

Rosa Parks showed us a better way, not just by that one act in 1955. She showed us a better way by the way she lived the rest of her life with quite dignity. She made a differnce.

Thank you Mrs. Parks.

~ The Billy Goat ~

Friday, November 04, 2005

Lola's Journey

We got to know Bob and Lola years ago, ages it seems, when we were living near Winona Lake, Indiana, and Bob and I were in the same class at Grace Theological Seminary. As it was, neither one of us graduated. We moved back to Michigan, and latter Bob and Lola ended up in the Spokane, Washington area. Though we had been good friends, for a number of years we lost track of each other...

Until this summer. I did a WWW search on their name and came up with a page from their former church. An e-mail note to the church office resulted in our re-connecting after all these years.

Just in time to find out Lola has been battling cancer these past few years. She had her ups and downs with it, but things had got to the point that she needed a bone marrow transplant. Just before the transplant was to happen my home computer crashed taking my address book and everything. It seemed that just as we had regained contact, we were losing it again... We thought of them and prayed for them over the past few months...

Then last week when we found a copy of one of Lola's e-mail notes. So we were able to find her on-line journal again...... (See link above.) Only to find out the bone marrow transplant had failed..... She's home with her family.... One son lives in the area so she has some grand-children around to give her joy in what may be the last year of her life.

Only Lola will live forever.... She is a Christian, trusting in Christ alone, and in the mercy, grace, and love of God. She has the hope of the resurrection from the dead. Her body may fail and be placed in the grave, but it will be raised up in that Great Day, and reunited with her spirit to live forever in the New Heavens and New Earth... And all who are in Christ, and who love her will see her again... Come quickly Lord Jesus!

We wish we lived much closer to Bob and Lola so we could be with them in this time... But Spokane is a half a continent away, and only the Lord knows if we will be able to get out there before her spirit departs to be with Jesus.

Bob and Lola, we love you and we are praying for you. And I'm publishing this to ask others to pray for you also, holding you up before His Throne of Grace. Someday, here, or there, or in the air, we will see you again... Blessed be the Name of the LORD...

With love, tears, and hope,

~ The Billy and the Nanny Goat ~

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Thoughts Regarding the Matter of Respect: October is almost gone. Two more months and the year 2005 A.D. will be history. I remember as a kid thinking in terms of the 20th century. It simply did not enter my head that I would also be living in the 21st century. Well, here we are. The things I grew up with are now found in the history books.

Respect. How do you view it? You can talk all you want about respecting the office, President, Supervisor at work, Pastor or elders at church, and so on. But the truth as much as you may respect the office, the person holding the office needs to earn your respect and maintain it. How many in positions of leadership squander the respect of those under them. (Bill Clinton comes to mind as an example.)

I've thought about this issue of respect with regard to a former church we left several years ago. Simply put, the leaders of that church did not conduct the over all ministry of the church in a way that maintained my respect. So we as a family "fired" them by leaving that church. Respect for the leadership was squandered by a pattern of disrespect by that leadership for the integrity and conscience of God's people. Sorry, but my rational and critical thinking facilites will not be left at the church door. Being an Elder does not nesecarrily equate with being wise and knowledgable. A pattern of un-wise decisions and pulpit statements indicating a lack and deficiancy of knowledge and discernment does not engender and maintain respect. What it does do is indicate that those in leadership are not qualified for the office they hold.

This leads to a critical conclusion. I can only care about a person or group's opinion to the degree I respect that person or group. The degree of caring is proportional to the degree of respect. Realizing that truth is liberating indeed.

Sola Deo Gloria,

~ The Billy Goat ~

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

U2 and the Christian Imagination

"In Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2 , Steve Stockman reflects upon the way the church has received U2 throughout their music career to discuss the role of the arts in the Christian community. A theological grasp of art requires the use of a Christian imagination which allows for a person to conceive of the world in a way that is flavored with Christian thought through stories, music, art, poetry, etc. A Christian theological imagination presents the Christian with an opportunity to expose their spiritual journey in a personally, real, and deep way. Unfortunately, Christians today often lack the type of imagination necessary for viewing and interpreting the world through artistic expressions. Stockman traces the historical roots of this phenomenon while explaining the ways in which U2 uses the Christian imagination to inform their faith and music.

To begin, the loss of the Christian imagination began with the Protestant Reformation....."

The place I cut this quote off was deliberately chosen. The last statement standing by itself is deliberately provocative. Before you start sounding the heresy alarms, you may want to go to Semper Reformanda and read the whole article. Yes, I have a sympathy for the general thrust of the article, though retaining a critical mind regarding some of the things said. Read the whole article for yourself, and draw your own conclusions.

Jesus reigns!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Monday, October 17, 2005

Fall Colors: We've had occasion to take a ride or two and see some of the Fall leaf colors. It was an enjoyable time, though the trees had not turned color as much as perhaps we had hoped.

Did I tell you our autistic grand-daughter broke her arm? It was about a month ago when she fell of some playground equipment at school. She sustained what's called a "stable break" in her wrist. She's been sporting a cast on that arm and therein is the story. My daughter and her husband woke up one morning to find their daughter had taken off her cast! So off to the doctor's office for another one. While there, they did another x-ray, and said things were healing well. The second time she was at school. The teacher looked a way for a brief few moments, and when she turned around, our grand-daughter handed her the 2nd cast which she had just taken off. So far the third cast has remained on, and is due to be permenetly removed at the end of this week. We are thankful she has handled this as well as she has.

One of our associate pastors at church is priming for his ordination exam. I asked him if he had wrestled with the infra and supra-lapsarian question. He acknowledged he had some review to do on that issue. I told him he needed to be able to articulate what the different views were, but then should question the validity of dealing with that issue in the first place. Do you know the mind of God that you can tell Him how His decrees should be logically ordered? I personally find that very question presumptuous. Is someone really going to go to hell if they get the answer wrong? Are you ready to discipline someone out of the church who doesn't hold to "the correct" answer? Where does Scripture lay out what the logical order of God's decrees are? If they are not clearly laid out in Scripture, would you not think that maybe the reason they are not is because that's not something we need to be spending a lot of time and words on? Do you really want to tell God how and what He should have said in the Scriptures? Why in the world are we even asking such a question???!!! Someone clearly had way to much time on their hands...

Sola Deo Gloria,

~ The Billy Goat ~

Friday, September 30, 2005

Of this and of that.....

Katrina and Rita have come and gone. The aftermath will be felt for years. A major part of the U.S. chemical industry is situated on the Gulf coast, and more then a few of those companies have declared force majuere. We are seeing some of that impact at the soap factory in Ada, MI where I work.

Last week I found a treasure at the public library. Among the books on the "for sale" shelf was Safely Home by Randy Alcorn, and it was a steal at the $2 price. I highly recommend Randy Alcorn's fiction. I've read Deadline also, and he is one of the better Christian fiction writers on the scene.

Safely Home is set in the context of the persecuted Christian house churches in China. We as Evangelicals in the relative safety of the USA have very little idea what our persecuted brethren are going through. How much of our "pop Christianity" would stand up under even 10% of what those brethren have to endure. Indeed that is the danger of "pop evangelical theology" or a "pop" approach to anything to do with church, theology, and the Christian life. Those immersed in that "pop Christian" culture are grossly unprepared for the realities that will some day come upon us... Oh yes... It will come... Western Christianity will face those fires too. May God have mercy on us and may real and true grace be planted deep within our hearts.

More items of a different nature. My last several posts were "blog spammed". I checked out my Blogspot options and have the switches set so hopefully that will be stopped.

Michigan State vs. Michigan: Bragging rights for the year are on the line tomorrow. MSU has looked very good the past several weeks while Michigan has fallen out of the top 25 in the polls. But in a rivalry like MSU and U. of M., polls and records don't mean squat. My wife and I are from the MSU class of '71, so it's green and white at our house. GO STATE!!! (Yeah, in another 100 years who will care... but I still enjoy it..)

By His grace alone,

~ The Billy Goat ~

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Changing Season: Another five days and Summer will be officially over. The days are getting shorter, the corn and soybean fields are drying down to their hues of brown and yellow, a few leaves are starting to change color, and some have already dropped.

Did I mention the Football season is in full swing, and the Detroit Tigers hope for a playoff spot have been totally shattered. Ah! But the Lions are on top of the NFL Central division! How long they stay there remains to be seen. Oh yes! My youngest daughter is back at college for her Sophomore year.

All of that to say we are one more season closer to glory...

Glory be to Him,

~ The Billy Goat ~

Friday, September 02, 2005

When The Winds and Waves Crash: Our friend Paulos has written a well balanced and sensitive post on what the Christian's response should be to Hurricane Katrina and the disaster that is facing the Gulf coast of the United States...

In His mercy,

~ The Billy Goat ~

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Plan 9 From Lower Space: Scrawlwart and Beeblerot are plotting mischief for XXXXXXXX Community Church. But the intrepid Internet Monk has come into possession of some key correspondence exposing the nefarious plot... Click on the link above for details...

Jesus Reigns!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Nice Arrangments of Familiar Hymns and Songs: Joel Rosenberger is making available at Piano by Joel some of the arrangements he writes and performs on piano. The files are in MP3 format. The selections include some of the older traditional hymns and songs. They make for really nice listening.

For His glory,

~ The Billy Goat ~

Monday, August 15, 2005

The Occult and the Principle of Justice In case you have not noticed, we are about to be assaulted by a wave of occult TV shows and movies. It's already happening, and the hype is already starting for the Fall TV line up.

In the several TV movies I've seen, and in the ads for "The Ghost Whisperer", it would seem there are those spirits of the dead who have unfinished business here on earth. They want to leave a last word of love to a grieving loved one they left behind. More often they are seeking justice for the foul murderers that propelled them from life in this world to the world of the dead.

And the mediums thorough whom they seek that reconciliation or justice are just going about their lives, not seeking to be psychics but finding they are and having to come to grips with what they believe they can not change about their connection to the world of the dead. Oh! Did I mention that if organized religion is mentioned at all, it is in a negative light?

I find it odd that such a connection of the occult and the concept of justice exists. Justice is meaningless unless there is an absolute that can give it definition. The Bible speaks of a day of ultimate justice. That justice is dealt out by an all knowing, omnipresent Creator God. As Paul reminds us in Romans, "Justice is mine says the LORD. I will repay." Perfect justice. Final justice. Appropriate justice.

Odd isn't it? Those who would deny the existence or relevance of the God who is the source of justice, still embrace the principle. The problem is that justice shorn from it's foundation will quickly descend into excessive vengeance which becomes not justice, but injustice.

In the only account of an occultic event in the Bible, the seance did not turn out well at all for the person who sought it. Those who play around with the occult know not what fire they are playing with. It is sad that our culture has degenerated to the point where the occult is becoming common accepted TV fare. It is a time for much earnest prayer.

Jesus reigns!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Friday, August 05, 2005

A Hot and Muggy Summer We've got more work out of our air conditioner this summer then in any other summer since we bought it. However the days are getting shorter, and September will soon be upon us.

I'm still having a few slight withdrawel symptoms from not having a computer at home. (I'm sitting in the local public library as I type.)

What do I do with all that freed up time? I'm back to working my way through Robert Thomas' Exegetical Commentary on Revelation. (I'm in Volume II now.) Someday I'll have to post a review of sorts on that work.

I also exercise my brain cells on the crossword puzzles found in the newspaper. And I manage to get to bed at a more "reasonable" hour then I use to.

There is another "project" of sorts that a friend from church has got me into. I'm not free to give details at this point, but it is a matter that needs much prayer, and it is related to Gospel Kingdom activities.

For His glory,

~The Billy Goat ~

Monday, July 25, 2005

Things are in Place: At the end of this month my current ISP service will cease. I've moved all my ISP pages to Geocities. What I'm really looking forward to is getting away from all the trivial stupid inane spam. Yes, I'm having some withdrawal pains, but am also finding life a lot less stressful. My wife likes having me upstairs more instead of always being down on the 'puter. I have more time to read some good books.

I did have opportunity to teach our adult Sunday school class for two weeks while the regular teacher was traveling. We are going through I Peter, and I dealt with the first part of chapter two, verses 1 - 17. It gave me opportunity to dig into some Greek and that was good. I found I have not totally forgotten it all.

So much for now....

Jesus reigns,

~ The Billy Goat ~

Monday, July 11, 2005

An Internet Sabbatical: Ten years ago when I first got on the WWW, the content of the WWW reflected the educational and governmental research roots of the internet. As time passed and more and more people gained access to the internet, that reflection changed, and continues to change to this day. We have now made the WWW a mirror of our culture; the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Not only has culture at large mirrored itself on the WWW, but the Evangelical Christian church has mirrored itself also; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Such is to be expected, but it is unfortunate.

A few weeks ago my hard drive crashed. Like totally... I'm not even able to re-install the OS. For less the $500 I could buy a new PC that would be adequate for what I'd use it for. I've chosen not to. We are using the opportunity to work on simplifying our life. Lord willing, by the end of the month I'll be discontinuing the ISP service that I've been with for the better part of 10 years. I'll still have some minimal access to the WWW from other sources, and will be posting here from time to time. My WWW pages on the ISP servers will be moved to my Yahoo/Geocities site, and I have Yahoo e-mail address.

I'm taking a break of sorts; a sabbatical if you will. There is more to life then the WWW. This is not a put down of the internet. I fully recognize and have personally benefited from the good side of the WWW. But it's time for a break.

By the way, I make no apology for anything I have ever published on this blog or on any of my other WWW pages. Enough said. It may be LORD willing, someday we'll hookup again. And I have no plans to stop writing.

Jesus is King!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Human Side of a "Forgotten" Battle in an "Ignored" War:
A Billy Goat Review of:

Gallipoli, directed by Peter Weir. Starring Mel Gibson and Mark Lee. Paramount Pictures (1981)

Robert E. Lee is reported to have said, “It is a good thing war is so terrible lest we become overly fond of it.” If the American Civil War was terrible, and it was, the “forgotten” or “ignored” war we call World War I was even more so. And as much as any battle in that “forgotten” and “ignored” war; Gallipoli is probably one of the most ignored and forgotten except in Australia, where this film was made, and New Zealand.

I have read several accounts of Gallipoli including Winston Churchill’s. (He lost his Admiralty job as a result of the Gallipoli debacle.) I did not see Gallipoli when the movie first came out in 1981, but recently bought the DVD out of historical interest and a curiosity regarding the acting skills of a much younger Mel Gibson. Gallipoli is not a “kids” movie, and though rated PG, (rough language & minimal posterior nudity), there is an intense emotional level to the last part of the film that parents should also be aware of.

This movie does an excellent job of showing the human side of war. That human side takes up a good part of the 111 minutes on the DVD version, and at times the pace of the story gets a little slow. You see the Australian “home front”, far from the trenches of Europe. The newspaper gives accounts of the latest news of the ANZAC movements and battles. Two young men, (Mel Gibson and Mark Lee), met and become friends. They try to enlist together but end up in separate units. Other comrades enlist also. Both units end up in Egypt and in the course of training the two friends become reunited. Eventually one is able to transfer to the other’s unit.

The actual battle scenes come into the movie rather abruptly. One moment you’re at a ballroom scene in Egypt, and the next you’re in a boat heading to the shores at Gallipoli. The encampment on the shore is lit up with strings of light bulbs, reminiscent of a crowded carnival midway. Grim “carnival” indeed as occasional enemy shells come screeching into the encampment area, and you see the wounded on litters or shuffling around with their assorted array of bandages. You don’t see the dead, though in one trench scene a soldier shakes the protruding hand of a dead man and says, “Glad to met you.”

I am not so sure that the British and ANZAC troops lost at Gallipoli due to superior Turkish arms and troops. The Turks did have the advantage of the high ground, but Allied failure was due as much to an inept higher command as anything else. The most glaring omission of command illustrated in the movie was the failure to synchronize the watches of the commanding officers responsible for an attack against a fortified Turkish position. The plan, as conceived would have worked, but a several minute discrepancy between the watches of the two officers becomes deadly. There was also the failure of the immediate superior officer to recognize the quickly changing face of the situation and his over riding the inferior officer actually on the scene.

As the decimated troops prepare for one last charge, they know it is to their death. The camera flashes from one man to another as they quickly scrawl that last note home to loved ones, strip off valued personal possessions to leave in the trench with those notes; and we see on their faces the resignation and foreboding realization that this was it. They would go over the top and not return. They were to be fed as cannon fodder to the scourge of war. The commanding officer on the scene swears he will not ask his men to do something he himself would not do, and he makes his preparations to go with them.

I will not tell you the ending. You will have to see it for yourself. It was one of the most abrupt and saddest endings I have ever seen in a lifetime of movies. The emotional shock packed into the way this movie ends brought me to tears.

General William T Sherman, USA, said, “War is hell.”(#) That is a true objective statement that has nothing to do with being “pro” or “anti” war. The truth of Sherman’s observation was glaringly and vividly portrayed in the trenches of WWI, and Gallipoli was a prime example. Peter Weir did an effective job in bringing that to the screen, and a young Mel Gibson turned in one of his best performances ever.

PS: Duh... Where's Gallipoli? For the geographically challenged, look up Gallipoli's location in your atlas. You don't have an atlas? That's your problem, not mine.

(#) In Biblical Theology, war, just and unjust, is in this life the most stark refection of the reality of what Hell will be like. As a reflection it falls far short of Hell's actual reality, but is nonetheless a reflection of the horror of that reality. It is in that sense I am affirming the truth of Sherman's comment on war's nature. ~ The Billy Goat ~

Friday, June 17, 2005

Denomination debates declaration of Jesus' divinity

"It's a bedrock belief of Christianity - not a topic for debate.

Until now.

A venerable Protestant denomination - at the behest of some of its conservative members - is preparing to vote next month on a measure declaring that Jesus Christ is the Lord, and making it mandatory for clergy to accept his divinity.

It may seem like a slam dunk, but delegates for the 1.3 million-member United Church of Christ may reject the resolution. Several Bergen County pastors, who aren't delegates to the convention, said they expect the measure to fail." (For complete article, click on link above.)

Is this one last chance for the UCC to turn back to some semblance of Christian orthodoxy? What will happen if this measure is voted down? What will UCC conservatives do next? Leave the UCC? Stay? This is a foundational watershed issue for any church or denomination that would call itself "Christian".

There are evangelical believers and pastors in the UCC. The UCC pastor that conducted my Aunt Florence's funeral a number of years ago was evangelical. I don't know if he is still at that church or even still in the UCC, but in either case we need to pray for those brethren at this time.

Solo Christo,

~ The Billy Goat ~

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

World Magazine - Weekly News Open jars: Rebuking the 'idol of safety,' Jars of Clay returns to classic hymns

We've subscribed to World Magazine for a number of years. I also enjoy listening to Jars of Clay. This weeks edition of W-M contained a review of the new Jars of Clay CD Redemption Songs. (To read the full review, click on the link above.) The review is VERY positive, and I find myself wanting to give this CD a hearing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

So Jacko goes free... Were we really surprised? By the way, contrary to brain-dead popular opinion, "not guilty" is not equal to "innocent". Was he guilty? I don't know. I'm certainly not going to base a judgment like that on the newspaper headlines, and shame on you if you do!

Guilt or innocence is not decided by a newspaper poll. In fact, such kinds of opinion polls regarding the guilt or innocence of any person charged with a crime do not serve the interests of justice, but in truth mitigate against justice.

My sympathy is with the jurors. Almost 30 years ago I did jury duty, and sat on about three different cases, one case involving two defendants... Of the four accused people in those three cases, we acquitted one, convicted one, and deadlocked on two resulting in a hung jury.

Do people who have never served on a jury in a criminal case in a courtroom setting understand what "beyond reasonable doubt" means, and the implications that come from that? Jacko's jury did exactly what they were suppose to do when they consciously decided at the very beginning to see Jacko as a human being deserving a fair and impartial hearing just like any other Joe Blow caught up in the legal system. THAT'S THE WAY IT"S SUPPOSE TO WORK!!! Even if I heartily detest Jacko's lifestyle, as a juror I am required to make a rigorous analysis of the facts related to the case at hand, not the opinions. There is a reason Joe Friday was always saying, "Just the facts madam. Just the facts..."

If I am upset with anyone, it is with prosecutors who pursue cases like Jacko's, and in their handling and preparation, take the intelligence of the jurors for granted. A good jury will always take "beyond a reasonable doubt" very seriously, and they should.

By the way, "beyond a reasonable doubt" has its roots in Judeo-Christian tradition based on the Old Testament admonition to Israel that no one was to be executed for a crime unless there were a minimum of two or more witnesses. There had to be more then just circumstantial evidence to convict of a capital crime.

Is Jacko really guilty? Did OJ really kill his wife? I don't know, but I know someone who does know, and the day will come when we all will stand before Him. There will be no secrets in that day. No one will "get away with it". In that day it will be revealed whatever it was Jacko and OJ have, or have not done.

But what Jacko and OJ did or did not do will not be the question for you or I in that day. For you and I will have to answer individually for what we individually have or have not done. Will you be ready?

Come quickly Lord Jesus!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Some Thoughts Upon Seeing "Revenge of the Sith"

This past Friday night I went to see "Revenge of the Sith". Now we we know "the rest of the story". Over all, episode three did a good job conecting episodes one and two with four, five, and six. I'll leave others to debate the quality of acting and special effects and so on. My thoughts are of a little bit different nature. These thoughts will somewhat random.

As a Christian, I beleive there is a "dark force" in the universe. Notice that is a different thing then saying I beleive in a "dark side of the force", as though there is one force with a side of light and a side of darkness. That oriental dualism of two sides to an impersonal force is the religion of the Star Wars series.

In contrast, God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. He is not an impersonal being, but a person in His existence as the One and the Three. The "dark force" also is not impersonal, but a being with personality, but as a being, inferior to the God of Light.

There was an irrationality to Anikian's turn to the dark side. Anikin killed Count Dacu at (sp)Palenteen's urging. Anikin as a Jedi should of been aware of Count Dacu's connection to the Sith Lord. Yet when he discovers (sp)Palenteen is the Sith Lord, he didn't seem to put it together that the Sith Lord's urging him to kill Dacu was a betrayal of Dacu. The same Sith Lord who betrayed Count Dacu goes on to betray Anikan. Anikan does not get what he was looking for and promised, and in the Sith Lord's lie regading Padme's death, Anikin's despair plays into the Sith's hand and soldifies his hold on Anikin as Darth Vador.

Of course we know the "rest of the story". In the end through the love of his son Luke, Darth Vader becomes Anikin once more and supposedly finally fullfils the prophecy regarding restoration of balance to the force by destroying the Sith Lord himself. Did you notice that Sith Lords are always done in by their apprentices? But in the final episode, Darth Vador who is at that point Anikin Skywalker again, also dies taking with him the knowledge of the dark side of the force that made Siths, Siths.

Star Wars is a story; a narrative of a cosmic story with a fall, and an eventual redemption of sorts. As such it is a distorted copy of the true Meta-Narrative given to mankind in the Bible. There was a real fall, and there will be a final and completed redemption. The "dark force" and his followers will eventually be banished from the universe once and for all. The redemption found in Jesus Christ will in that day be realized through out the whole Cosmos.

Come quickly Lord Jesus,

~ The Billy Goat ~

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

My World View.....???: Now you know... You always suspected didn't you?

You scored as Cultural Creative. Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

Cultural Creative
















What is Your World View? (updated)
created with

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Quick-and-Dirty Calvinism: Phil Johnson, (the PJ associated with Grace to You), has entered the world of Blog with his postings at Pyromaniac. A bit of fire was certianly ignited by the above post on Quick and Dirty Calvinism. My own response is found in the comments section of the article, and I will not repeat them here at this time.


~ The Billy Goat ~

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Difficulty of Being Always Reforming
by The Jolly Blogger

"The principle of being always reforming is not stated explicitly in Scripture, rather it is one of those theological propositions that is deduced by good and necessary consequence. It is deduced from the Scriptural considerations that only the Scripture is infallible and that man is sinful. Thus, sinful man can study the Scriptures and summarize the Scriptures into everything from formal theological statements, to informal expressions of personal conviction, to guidelines for Christian living.

But, those human summaries, guidelines, and other assorted whatnot can never carry Scriptural authority. Because such things are formulated by men we always have to assume that, even though we're really very sure we're right about the things of which we speak, we could be wrong. "Always reforming" gives us a kind of safety valve or escape clause by which we ourselves, or later generations, can revisit or rethink what we said back in the day. "Always reforming" also honors the pre-eminent authority of Scripture and relativizes all other expressions of faith."

Thank you Jolly Blogger for articulating more clearly things I've tried to say. This article sets forth the principles leading to the concerns expressed in my post on Confessional Scholasticism Versus Biblical Theology.

Semper Reformanda,

~ The Billy Goat ~

Monday, May 23, 2005

Texas Visit: It's hot down here! Record heat for this time of the year in Austin. And the corn is already knee high, and it's not even Memorial Day, let alone the 4th of July! A hot day in Texas still beats a day in the office... :)


~ The Billy Goat ~

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

To And Fro: Lots of ideas. Little time to develop them and put them to blog. Here are a few.

What is "Process Theology", and should we care?

What makes a "para-church organization" "para-church"? And if you think you have an answer to that question, what are the implications and logical results of the assumptions behind your definition? Also, why should I accept your definition as definitive? (If you didn't "get it", I'm asking on the basis of what authority I should accept your definition as final.)

Is this the year the Detroit Tigers make it to the playoffs? I grew up when a Tiger team included Al Kaline, Rocky Colivito, and Norm Cash. I remember Sparky Anderson with fondness. Those were the days. Is this the year we hope once again? I need to learn the names in the lineup. I'm even checking the latest American League Central Division standings in the sports page almost every day.

We leave for Texas in a few days to see family. Austin Hill Country, prickly pear, and Bluebonnets... Texas is not the "south". Texas is the "west". Blue sky and low humidity (away from the coast). ...and I'm taking the golf clubs.

Speaking of which I really like my new Ping #5 driver. It was my choice of gift for my quarter century anniversary at the soap factory. Another 300 years and I'll have a complete set of clubs... ;) We were playing scramble at Pine Croft near Beulah, MI on the shore of Crystal Lake. I made the mistake of letting Jim take a try with it. With that club, he hit the ball a "country mile" and got us up close to the green. He wanted to put that club in his bag and take it home. Sorry Jimmy. You'll have to wait until you get the rest of your 25 in at the shop. :)

Speaking of "toys", back in late March we got a portable outdoor fire place (POFP). We really enjoy it. It's relaxing to sit out on the patio in the evening with a little fire going in the POFP.

At church we are looking at embarking on a long range building program. We're maxed out, and attendance has leveled off because the sanctuary is maxed. We desperately need more classroom space too. The suburban area around the church building is growing; new subdivisions and etc... We're not looking for "numbers", but we do want to be faithful to what we've been called to as a church of Jesus Christ. It is my prayer we do not lose sight of the core values that have made this church special to us as a family. I'm adverse to "change", but some change is necessary if we want to retain those values. Much, much prayer is needed....

Enough rambling to and fro for now....

Jesus reigns!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Monday, May 09, 2005

A Nice Little Place Up North: This past weekend was the MARBC Men's Retreat at Lake Ann Baptist Camp, up west of Traverese City. Lake Ann Baptist Camp is a very beautiful place. Renovations over the past few years have included a very fine dining hall, a new chapel, and this past year, a new welcome center and office building. The camp has been in existence almost 60 years, and many are the lives that have been touched for good over that period of time.

One of the popular activities at our Men's retreat at Lake Ann is the afternoon golfing at any number of fine golf courses in the area. Not all the men golf, and there are other activities besides golf, but in the three years I've been to the retreat, I've always ended up taking the clubs with me. The courses we've played are beautiful, and the fellowship is good. We play a scramble - best ball format. That takes the pressure off and we can just have fun and get to know one another better.

The preaching sessions are stimulating. Also there are the later night card games and "sit and chat" sessions at the dining hall where the coffee pot is always on. We get to meet other men from other churches in the Michigan area, and that's a neat thing. I really look forward to this early May men's retreat, and I'm already eagerly looking forward the one for next May.

In His joy,

~ The Billy Goat ~

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Arctic Barnabas Ministries

Encouraging Missionaries, Pastors, and Christian Workers in the Alaskan Bush, Western Canada, and Far East Russia

"Arctic Barnabas Ministries is an inter-denominational not-for-profit ministry, seeking to meet the needs of the church body in Bush Alaska, Western Canada, and Far East Russia. This is done through the encouraging and discipling of Christian leaders. These leaders - missionaries, pastors and Christian workers - face harsh challenges specific to the part of the world where they serve.

These people face very remote living conditions, isolation, extreme temperatures, and long periods of time with little to no daylight. Adjusting to such an environment is a challenge for anyone.

Arctic Barnabas is a ministry that exists to provide fellowship, respite, a listening ear, and a helping hand - the things needed to enhance the possibilities of long-term service in a place where "short term" just doesn't work. In order for someone from the outside to be effective in a village, it requires living in the area long enough to earn the right to be heard. This can take years. ABM strives to meet the needs of these workers, as well as act as a catalyst among Christians elsewhere to assist in the effort. We need to do what we can to build up and bolster Christian workers so they will be able to have an effective, long-term impact. "

We recently had the opportunity to hear Rob & Kristi Dillingham present the ministry of Arctic Barnabas Ministries. With us were some friends of ours whose daughter and son in-law are involved in ministry in the Alaska Bush, and who have seen first hand the impact and encouragment Arctic Barnabas Ministries has on those Pastors and Missionaries serving in that environment. It is our friends testimony that ABM is serving a very much needed service to those involved in ministry in the Arctic area of the world. Click on the link above for more information.

To God be the glory,

~ The Billy Goat ~

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Virginia McCully Ortiz Huff : 1946 - 2005

"Huff, Virginia McCully Ortiz, Saginaw, Michigan. Passed away Friday, April 22, 2005 at home. Age 59 years. The daughter of the late Nathan and Gladys McCully, Virginia was born February 19, 1946 in Saginaw. She was married to Pablo Ortiz in April of 1966 and he preceded her in death in 2003. Virginia had been employed by West Side Decorating of Saginaw as a Professional Design Consultant, and had also been employed by Camille's Costume Shop in Bay City. She was an active member of Saginaw Valley Community Church where she also served as an usher. Surviving are a daughter, Cynthia Ortiz of Saginaw; a son, Richard Ortiz and his wife, Maria, of Tucson, Arizona; a very special granddaughter, Ciara Reed Ortiz; and three sisters, Kathleen Mertz and her husband, Lauren of Saginaw; Doris Hicks and her husband, Fenimore of Roscoe, Ill.; and Norma Kracko of Clio; and several nieces and nephews also survive. Funeral service will take place 11:30 a.m. Monday at Saginaw Valley Community Church, 3660 Hermansau Drive. Pastor Richard Sayad will officiate. Friends may call at the Cederberg & Brietzke Funeral Home, 403 N. Michigan Ave. on Saturday from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. and on Sunday from 3:00 to 9:00 p.m. Visitation continues at the church on Monday from 10:30 a.m. until time of service. Those planning an expression of sympathy may wish to consider memorials to the Family Discretionary Fund or to Saginaw Valley Community Church Memorial Fund."

(Published in the Saginaw News on from 4/23/2005 - 4/24/2005.)

Ginny was one of my 1st cousins. The last time I saw her was a over a year and few months ago at her momma's funeral. I remember her as a goofy, fun loving kid. She always had a smile, and was full of ginger. When I was still a lad, it was Ginny that told me about peanut butter. You know.... How do you get peanut butter off the roof of your mouth? You don't remember that one? Boy I do, and it it was Ginny that told me about it. I never forgot, but when I reminded her about it the last time I saw her, she denied all memory. I didn't find out about her death until after the funeral, so I missed it. I'm going to miss her too...


~ The Billy Goat ~

Thursday, April 21, 2005

“The Already” And the “Not Yet”: Implications for Evangelical Theology

A Review of The Kingdom of Christ: The New Evangelical Perspective by Russell D. Moore (Crossway Books, 2004)

Over the last 60 years Evangelical theology has not been static. Russell D.Moore's The Kingdom of Christ: The New Evangelical Perspective traces the development of a growing Evangelical consensus regarding the "already" and "not yet" perspective of the Kingdom of God as reflected in both the modified covenant theology of Hoekema's The Bible and The Future and Blaising and Bock's Progressive Dispensationalism. This book is not for the faint hearted. The extended footnotes and bibliography take up over one third of its three hundred and twenty pages.

Moore starts with a valuable historical picture of development of the Kingdom aspect of Evangelical theology since the end of World War II, beginning with the concerns of Carl F.Henry and George Ladd. He discusses how the differing views of the Kingdom held by traditional Dispensationalism on the one hand, and traditional Covenantal theology on the other, contributed to an Evangelical lethargy regarding cultural engagement specifically in the political arena. This is set in the historical context of the Fundamentalist reaction to a liberal theology that had replaced the Gospel with a truncated “social gospel” that effectively denied individual redemption.

As theologians from both sides of Evangelicalism began to wrestle with the meaning of the “already” and the “not yet” perspective of the Kingdom, over time a consensus began to emerge regarding the Kingdom. Moore discusses how positive aspects from both sides of the Evangelical debate over the Kingdom came to be embraced in a consensus regarding the nature and cosmic scope of the Kingdom in its inaugural form in the New Covenant as well as its consummation in the New Heavens and the New Earth. The result is that though both sides may and do still debate details, both Progressive Dispensationalism as found in the writings of Blaising, Bock, and Saucy, and modified Covenant theology represented by Hoekema, Gaffin, Poythress and others, agree on a foundational structure and the cosmic scope of the Kingdom of God.

I might add that there is little discussion in this book of Post-millennialism. There are historical as well as theological reasons for that. Nineteenth century Post-millennialism was as much a product of the influence of the modern age’s optimism as was the optimism in the liberal churches embrace of the “social gospel”. Nor is it clear that current Post-millennialism by its own presuppositions is able to grapple in a Biblically meaningful way with an “already” and “not yet” perspective of the Kingdom.

Some may question how wide an impact Progressive Dispensationalism has had on the people in the pew, and see that as a problem for the propositions Moore articulates. The same question may be asked of the just as recent modified Covenant Theology. It is not clear that the average person in the pew of the church adhering to Covenant theology understands that theology any better then the person in the pew of a Dispensational oriented church, (Progressive or traditional), understands that Dispensationalism.

Whatever the case, Moore establishes the point that a theological consensus on the Kingdom provides a foundation for the integration of an organic view of theology as a whole. Modern Enlightenment thinking fed the tendency to categorize theology proper into separate components that were rarely or only superficially related to one another. The recognizing of the organic connection between the categories of theology proper is a welcome development.

This holistic integration of the different areas of theology is seen as Moore traces the impact of the Evangelical consensus regarding the Kingdom on the issues of eschatology, soteriology, and ecclesiology; three areas that have long been bones of contention between traditional Covenant and Dispensational theologians. Moore sets forth how the consensus on the Kingdom has by organic connection led to a basic consensus in these three areas.

Though Moore focuses on how this consensus provides a unified foundation for thoughtful Evangelical political involvement, his discussion also gives a starting place for an Evangelical response to Post-modernism, the communitarianism of the Emergent church, and the Open Theism challenge. That starting place is in the cosmic scope of redemption provided by the “already” and “the not yet”: a cosmic scope that does not negate individual salvation, but on the contrary gives individual salvation a fuller and richer meaning in light of all that Jesus as Messiah King will accomplish.

In the last chapter of The Kingdom of Christ, Moore discusses how at the point of an emerging consensus on the Kingdom, Evangelicalism is being divided by Open Theism on the one hand, and the communitarian focus of the Emergent church on the other; both of which Moore sees as a move away from the clear implications of the “already” and “not yet” Kingdom view. The central focus of the Kingdom view is Jesus reigning as Messiah King, both now in the inauguration, and fully and completely in the future consummation of the Kingdom. Open Theism by definition cannot be consistent with that focus. Communitarianism clouds that focus with an emphasis that makes the church as community central to what the church is.

I am surprised The Kingdom of Christ has not received more attention then it seems to have at this point. It is one of those books that, as I read it, I could not help but sense I was reading something of real monumental importance. Time will tell if such is really the case, but it is a book that I encourage every Evangelical Pastor and theological student to read.

~ The Billy Goat ~
Copywrite © April 20, 2005

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Exegetical Expository Preaching
Excerpts from an article at Mark Dever's IX Marks Ministries.

"God's Word has something to say about what we preach and how we preach it. What you'll find on the following pages is a brief Biblical rationale for the primacy of expositional preaching in the local church. But that's not all. You'll also find some practical resources to encourage and facilitate the continuing development and increasing fruitfulness of your own expositional ministry...

The content of expositional preaching is the true word of God. An exposition of Scripture simply seeks to uncover, explain, and apply the divinely intended meaning of the text...

The goali of expositional preaching is for the people of God to hear and heed the Word of God. In this sense,expositional preachers are modern day prophets, serving merely as conduits through which the Word of God may flow into the people of God in order to do the work of God in them...

Expositional preaching is the only kind of preaching that, by definition, ensures that the agenda of the sermon is determined by the agenda of the text.

Therefore, a long-term commitment to expositional preaching is the most helpful way for a preacher to discipline himself to remain faithful to God’s Word over a lifetime of ministry...

Preaching is prophetic because it conveys God's Word to God's people. Exposition best handles the prophetic nature of preaching because the expositional sermon is unique for taking the point of the passage as the point of the message. It is therefore the best way to remain faithful to the content and intent of God's Word in any given text....

God's Word is the conduit of God's power that accomplishes God's purpose. The power is not in the preacher himself, his stories, his illustrations, or his technique. The power is in God's Word - the message preached.

This means that if the Christian preacher is to preach with real Spiritual power, he must discern what God has said in His Word, and then be faithful to say it. In other words, the point of the text should be the point of the sermon...

Benefits for the Congregation

The congregation is released from slavery to the preacher's hobbyhorse texts and topics..." (For complete article click here.)

My wife and I are very thankful for the exegetical expository based ministry we have the privilage of sitting under at our current church. Being under such a ministry has caused us to realize how far our former church had wandered from the discipline of exegetical expository preaching. The above article does an excellent job of setting forth the Biblical basis for and the benefits of expository preaching. I highly recommend you read the full article.

Sola Scriptura!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Pontificating Mainstream Media Megalomania: In case you missed it, there is a new Bishop of Rome, Pope Benedict XVI. For an article that explores the then Cardinal Ratzinger's perspective as it relates to other Christian traditions, read this Christianity Today article.

I have to confess a cynical amusement over the past week or so since the passing of John Paul II, in reading and listening to the pompous pontification of the mainstream media megalomaniacs as they condescendingly sought to instruct the Roman Catholic church on what the next Pope should be like and what he should do; ordain women as priests, embrace this radical agenda, or that... blah... blah... blah..., all to become "relevent" and to attract to the church those who (fill in the blank).

Now I'm not a Roman Catholic, and I have real concerns regarding some of the distinctive teachings of the Roman Catholic church. But I knew there was no way the Roman Catholic church was going to embrace a Pope who would kowtow to the liberal agenda these self-appointed pontificators were seeking to instruct us on. Their ignorance of the Catholic church was simply astounding. They flat out did not know at all what they were talking about, nor did the "Progressive Catholics" who regurgitated the expectations of these media blatherheads.

By the way, a Pope who would embrace that agenda would not only have been disastrous to the Roman Catholic church, but to Christianity as a whole, including Evangelicalism. Like it or not, the Pope is perceived by a secular world as a major leader in Christianity. You don't have to like that, but you better recognize the reality of it.

But also think about what made John Paul II so respected even among Protestant Evangelicals who disagreed with him theologically. In a fractured Post-modern culture and society, the former Pope maintained in a very public way a witness to the existence of an eternal truth and ethos that does not change; a perspective that cuts across the vein of post-modern relativism and fragmentation.

That witness brings up the issue the pontificating mainstream media did not understand. The church, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Baptist, or (fill in the blank) does not exist to implement a "social gospel" based on some vague ill-defined notions of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of mankind, blowing about with every changing wind of a secular liberal agenda that would make the church nothing more then a social country club tottering on the brink of irrelevancy and uselessness.

The Christian church does exist to bear witness to the Kingdom of God as in Jesus Christ, that Kingdom has been inaugurated, but not yet consummated. The Christian church stands as an outpost of that Kingdom, an outpost that is to bear witness to the Kingdom rule of the Messiah King, Jesus Christ. The church is not another institution to be manipulated in service to a secular agenda, liberal or conservative.

It's that message the mainstream media has missed in its coverage of the passing of John Paul II and today's election of Benedict XVI. We need to pray for the mainstream media blatherheads. They are pathetic human beings even as we are. Their humanity, found in their broken reflection of God's image, calls for our prayers on their behalf.

As for myself, this Evangelical Baptist intends to pray for this new Bishop of Rome. His common humanity with me is also reason enough to do so.

Jesus reigns!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Elfstone's LA report: My daughter Elfstone finally got around to publishing a report on her Spring break trip to LA. This was a group ministries trip through her school, Cornerstone University. Here are a few excerpts. For the full report click the link above. ~ The Billy Goat ~

"On Sunday morning we went down to Skid Row in downtown LA. There are people everywhere there, on the streets, tent, tarps, boxes, and people lying and sitting everywhere. Sometimes you could not tell the difference between a bag of garbage or a homeless person. Many of them were pushing shopping carts down the street with all their earthly belongings in it. Others carried bags of stuff on their backs...

After that we went to Central City Church of the Nazarene. It was an amazingly new experience for me as the church consisted mainly of African-Americans with an African-American preacher. Though it was quite different from I was used too, I enjoyed it immensely, and found my heart lifted up in praise to God. The sad thing about it is that this church which is right in Skid Row is the only church available to the people there...

... we went on this prayer tour which was rather an amazing experience. We went all over the city, and stopped at different places to pray. The one thing that stands the most in my mind about that night was the shocking difference between the poverty and the wealth of LA. Right there in downtown, you have the tall skyscrapers of wealthy businesses and only a few miles away is Skid Row. It’s really quite thought-provoking that you can have two extremes of social status in one place...

...we went to a retirement home, which was one of the saddest places I have ever seen. The people there are not very well taken care of, and they are allowed to smoke as well. We played Bingo with some of them, and handed out prizes which they loved. There was a guy there named Charles, who was very intelligent and had a beautiful smile for all who came in. He sat in a chair with his little radio on a table by the window. Charles is the kind of person who could make you laugh, even when you’re feeling down. Another guy that captured my heart was Jamie. I was sitting next to him as he played Bingo, and though we didn’t talk too much, there was something so sad, and so appealing about him. He was like a helpless child, trapped in a wheel chair. And he was so thin, and small. He was rather quiet spoken too. I kept want to put my arms around him and love him with all my heart.

...Tonight while most of the team went back to Central City Church for their weekly karaoke night, four of us helped a family from the church move into a new home. The family consisted of a single mom and her son and little girl. They lived in this beat up old hotel place right near Skid Row. It was a place where all kinds of street people, prostitutes etc. resided. They lived in this tiny two-room place. It was unbelievable to be a part of this experience. The difference between where they lived and where they moved was like night and day. And the joy the little girl had was the thing that stuck with me the most. That she will be able to grow up in a safe, spacious place with room to grow without fear. It was a humbling thing to be able to see that."

Saturday, April 02, 2005

One Protestant Evangelical's Reflection on the Death of Pope John Paul II

He died this afternoon, (EST). My prayer had been that if he was to die, it would not be lingering. Yes, I, an essentially conservative Evangelical, prayed for the Catholic Bishop of Rome in his last hours. What would Christ have done?

Do I believe John Paul II was "saved"? It actually does not matter what I think about that question. My opinion is irrelevant exactly because it is that, an opinion. And your opinion on that question is as equally irrelevant, so don't waste my time with it. The only opinion that really counts is God's.

Let me say at the onset that as an Evangelical, I disavow those statements in the Reformed confessions that identify the Papacy as "the anti-christ". It may be that over the course of history there have been those Popes who were of the spirit of "anti-christ", but that does not mean all Popes have been, or that John Paul II necessarily was of that spirit by the mere fact of being Pope. Over the years I've known a few Protestant "pastors" who manifested an "anti-christ" spirit too.

If God through Jesus Christ can save me in spite of myself, He's quite capable of saving a Bishop of Rome in spite of himself. After all is salvation of grace or not?

Whatever else you think of John Paul II, his impact on modern history is an objective historical fact that only the dullest and most ignorant would deny. In my mind there are two areas he should rightly be remembered for.

The first is his role in the fall of the evil empire of godless Communism.

The second is his witness for the basic Christian view of a culture of life in the face of the increasing inroads of the culture of death. From maintaining opposition to abortion and euthanasia, to the calling of Terri Schaivo's death the wrongful execution of an innocent that it was, this Bishop of Rome bore witness to the sanctity and dignity of all human life.

By the way, did you know that when what a Pope says is in accord with Scripture, that Pope speaks truth? Doesn't Sola Scriptura demand we recognize that?

John Paul II was a fellow human being created in the image of God. As such his life had the same basic worth and dignity of all lives. He has now gone the way of all flesh. God All-Mighty is John Paul II's ultimate judge, not you or me. My heart goes out to my Catholic friends and acquaintances at this time. I grieve with you. Maybe not to the same degree you do, but I do grieve at the passing of a fellow human being.


~ The Billy Goat ~

PS: If this post offends your "Reformed" sensibilities, that's your "problem" not mine. Get over it and get a life...

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Terri Schiavo: Judicial Murder
by Nat Hentoff, March 29th, 2005 (The Village Voice)

"For all the world to see, a 41-year-old woman, who has committed no crime, will die of dehydration and starvation in the longest public execution in American history.

She is not brain-dead or comatose, and breathes naturally on her own. Although brain-damaged, she is not in a persistent vegetative state, according to an increasing number of radiologists and neurologists.

Among many other violations of her due process rights, Terri Schiavo has never been allowed by the primary judge in her case—Florida Circuit Judge George Greer, whose conclusions have been robotically upheld by all the courts above him—to have her own lawyer represent her...

...In February, Florida's Department of Children and Families presented Judge Greer with a 34-page document listing charges of neglect, abuse, and exploitation of Terri by her husband, with a request for 60 days to fully investigate the charges. Judge Greer, soon to remove Terri's feeding tube for the third time, rejected the 60-day extension. (The media have ignored these charges, and much of what follows in this article.)...

Terri Schiavo has never had an MRI or a PET scan, nor a thorough neurological examination. Republican Senate leader Bill Frist, a specialist in heart-lung transplant surgery, has, as The New York Times reported on March 23, "certified [in his practice] that patients were brain dead so that their organs could be transplanted." He is not just "playing doctor" on this case.

During a speech on the Senate floor on March 17, Frist, speaking of Judge Greer's denial of a request for new testing and examinations of Terri, said reasonably, "I would think you would want a complete neurological exam" before determining she must die.

Frist added: "The attorneys for Terri's parents have submitted 33 affidavits from doctors and other medical professionals,all of whom say that Terri should be re-evaluated."

In death penalty cases, defense counsel for retarded and otherwise mentally disabled clients submit extensive medical tests. Ignoring the absence of complete neurological exams, supporters of the deadly decisions by Judge Greer and the trail of appellate jurists keep reminding us how extensive the litigation in this case has been, 19 judges in six courts is the mantra. And more have been added. So too in many death penalty cases, but increasingly, close to execution, inmates have been saved by DNA...." ( Complete article found here. )

This article by Nat Hentoff is significant because Hentoff is writing from a left wing political perspective, and as an avowed atheist. Also in today's news, Jessie Jackson has expressed support for keeping Terri alive. My more or less conservative brain may want to view Jackson's involvement as opportunistic, but I'm not so sure such is the case.

What is significant is that the issues surrounding the Terri Schiavo case are cutting across the political and ideological spectrum. It's not just a bunch of wacko right wing lunatics objecting to the Neo-Nazi death mentality that is behind what is taking place. What have we come to when a hospice, which can and often does serve a good and useful function in a community, has one of it's rooms turned into a government sanctioned death camp?

There are two issues involved in this case; two questions that have not at all been satisfactorily answered. What were Terri Schaivo's own wishes regarding the prospect of her continuing existence in a vegetative state? The answer to that question is not clearly known beyond a reasonable doubt, and in such a case, the presumption should be to continue her life.

The second question is this. Is she actually medically speaking, in such a vegetative state? There is much debate about that among medical people familiar with the case. Once again the presumption should and ought to be in favor of life. What kind of judicial system is it that can not see these fundamental presumptions. Presumptions for life are given to convicted murderers, (and rightly so), but not to Terri Schaivo.

May Almighty God have mercy on us....

~ The Billy Goat ~

Monday, March 21, 2005

Renowned neurologist: Schiavo can eat with aid & is not in "persistent vegetative state" -
(BP) Mar 21, 2005 By Joni B. Hannigan

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (BP)--A doctor close to the Terri Schiavo case told the Florida Baptist Witness that the 41-year-old disabled woman could actually be fed orally if it were allowed.

"The important thing for people to understand is that she can eat and swallow right now," said William Hammesfahr, a neurologist who has examined Schiavo. He is in many of the videos circulated through the news media showing that Schiavo is at times responsive and aware.

"They are truly withholding food from a person who is awake, alert, and can eat and swallow," Hammesfahr said. After spending at least 10 hours with Schiavo several years ago, he told Florida Judge George W. Greer that she can improve with therapy.

Hammesfahr said his credibility had been questioned at the time, but he has since been vindicated in court and currently maintains a thriving private practice in Clearwater, Fla. Despite reports attacking him, he said he has never lost his license to practice medicine and currently is involved in litigation surrounding the ordeal.

Hammesfahr was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology in 1999 for his work in brain injury and stroke. He is a recognized expert in treating neurological disorders, having successfully treated thousands of patients using vasodilator therapy, which increases blood flow to the brain, thus healing conditions previously thought to be untreatable.

Standing with a handful of supporters outside of the hospice late in the evening Mar. 19, Hammesfahr told the Witness Schiavo previously has swallowed pudding and daily swallows almost two liters of water by virtue of being able to process her own saliva and sinus drainage.

"That's liquid and that's the most difficult thing to swallow," Hammesfahr said of her saliva. "If she can swallow that she can swallow food or pudding."

Other doctors who testified before Greer in 2003 had limited exposure to Schiavo and did not complete standard evaluations for brain injuries, Hammesfahr said. The court-appointed doctors maintained Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state (PVS), with no chance for recovery.

"Terri's not that bad," Hammesfahr said. "She is like a child with cerebral palsy. She can speak. At least when I saw her, she would speak very slowly. She would sort of form words, she would move her arms and legs at command. She could understand questions in English."

Hammesfahr said there are at least 50 physicians he knows of, in private practice and related to medical universities who have said Schiavo is not in a PVS or in a coma.

In 1990 Schiavo suffered brain damage after her heart stopped. Nearly a decade ago, Schiavo’s husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo, petitioned the court to halt the dispensing of nutrition and hydration through a feeding tube to his disabled wife.

Her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, as well as family and supporters have argued that she could improve were she provided rehabilitation services. Michael Schiavo has refused to provide those services since around 1993, they say.

Although Michael Schiavo says his wife would want to die, no written request from her exists. Terri Schiavo’s parents have challenged his continued guardianship of their daughter, citing conflict of interest. Michael Schiavo has lived with his girlfriend, by whom he has fathered two children, for 10 years.

Greer ruled Feb. 25 that Schiavo's nutrition and hydration be discontinued and in subsequent decisions ruled she cannot undergo more medical testing and cannot be fed by mouth. Greer also rebuffed a request by Florida's Department of Children and Families for a 60-day stay of his motion so that they could investigate allegations that Michael Schiavo has abused and neglected his wife.

Hammesfahr said that about 30 percent of his cases are more severe than Terri Schiavo’s, and that she most likely could improve, whether by his approach or another.

"You can get almost anybody with a brain injury or a stroke better," Hammesfahr said. "I think that’s the long and short of it.

"It's not that [Schiavo simply] deserves a chance, she deserves rehabilitation," Hammesfahr continued. "She's not going to get the rehabilitation if she gets killed off here."

Each day Schiavo is off the feeding tube increases the chance that she will end up in a coma, Hammesfahr said. He described what happens to the human body when it is deprived of food and water.

"People who die of starvation, their acid eats through their stomach, they develop infections in their body, their body starts to dissolve from the inside out, they develop seizures, [and] frequently it breaks their back," he said. "They have to have medications to essentially put them into a coma to not have their body break their back or something of that nature."

He explained that the process of putting someone in a coma after withholding nutrition and hydration is part of an "exit protocol" that involves delivering powerful drugs like Morphine and Valium to the patient when they are expected to die.

"The danger for Schiavo is that if she is in a coma, she will not have the type of monitoring that could help her recover if the feeding tube is reinserted.

"Putting a person in coma is very dangerous," Hammesfahr said, and after 7-8 days she might end up in an irreversible coma or with further brain damage.

Angel Watson, a Pinellas Park, Fla., resident who works with the Caring and Sharing Center for Independent Living, said she once was considered to be in a PVS, after a skiing accident left her paralyzed, but that she made remarkable improvements because of her strong will to live.

Referring to the two other times Schiavo's feeding tube was removed and surgically re-inserted, Watson said it is wrong to treat Terri as if she would not want to live.

Watson questions Michael Schiavo's insistence that he loves his wife and cares deeply for her. Michael Schiavo, Watson said, has had ample proof that his wife wants to live.

"She's the embodiment of a living will," Watson said. "She is a living will. He's tried to kill her twice and she has the will to live.

"What more [evidence] could you possibly want?"

What more evidence indeed! And how can Michael Schiavo say he loves his wife when he is living in open adultery with another woman? The most pitiable person in this whole story is not Terri, but Michael. The truth of his character, or lack thereof, is exposed for the whole world to see. The hypocrisy is nauseating.

This case will be a real turning point for America. It remains to be seen if the turning is for good or evil. Those judges who have ruled for Terri's death have proven themselves grossly unqualified for the judicial bench. The doctors who have vouched their professional opinion in favor of Terri's death have only proven they are grossly unqualified to be medical doctors. The lawyers representing Michael Schiavo have only proven they should be barred for life from ever even pretending to practice law. And the mainstream media failure to tell the whole truth about this case stands as an indictment against that media greater then the Dan Rather debacle.

We once fought a major world war against a death camp mentality. Unfortunately that left wing Neo-Nazi mentality is still with us. Hitler and Goreing would be proud. They have come for Terri Schiavo. Who will they come for next?

~ The Billy Goat ~

Saturday, March 19, 2005

The Shame of a Christian Church: We were at a banquet for Baptists for Life Thursday night. The keynote speaker was a Christian lady who does pro-life sidewalk counseling outside of a local abortion clinic. Pro-life sidewalk counselors need our support and prayers. It is a daunting task God has called them to.

What was most heart rendering of all the stories she told were the young women who have some kind of obvious Christian background, evangelical or otherwise, who come to the abortion clinic for an abortion. One case in particular struck a nerve with both my wife and me. Here is a summary of that story as told by this sidewalk pro-life counselor.

The young lady was pregnant outside of marriage. She came to the abortion clinic for an abortion. The sidewalk counselor was able to engage her in conversation, and sought to dissuade this young lady from going through with the abortion.

It turned out she was a member of a local church affiliated with one of the Dutch Reformed denominations in this area. If I was to give the name of this particular Dutch Reformed denomination, those familiar with this particualr group could tell you that sadly, what follows would not be unexpected from this particular denomination.

Why was this young lady from a Christian background so adamant about going through with an abortion? She told the sidewalk counselor that though she knew it was wrong, she would rather kill her baby then have the elders of her church find out she had gotten pregnant outside of marriage. The counselor told her they would help her find another church that would be more supportive of her and her baby, but that offer was to no avail. She went on into the clinic and another baby died.

Why? Where was her church? What kind of church is it that has an atmosphere and culture where a young un-wed mother would rather abort her child then have the elders find out she had engaged in sexual sin outside of marriage? Would this happen in a church whose atmosphere and culture was characterized by the compassion, forgiveness, mercy, and love of Jesus Christ? Possibly, but much less likely...

The shame in this story is not that a young lady got into "trouble". The shame is in a local church that evidenced an atmosphere and culture that became a stumbling block to a frightened, vulnerable young lady. Such a thing is not of the Spirit of Christ.

Shameful! Absolutely shameful!
"It is inevitable that stumbling blocks should come, but woe to him through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, then that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble."
(Luke 17:1-2)

In His love and tears,

~ The Billy Goat ~

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Prayer of St. Patrick

"I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.

Christ shield me today
Against wounding
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation. "

Monday, March 14, 2005

Theological Musings - Another Reformation? This past week I was in a workshop at a ministries conference when the workshop leader, a respected seminary professor, made the statement that the Evangelical church may very well be on the brink of another reformation. The context of this statement was his presentation on Post-Modernity and the Emerging Church movement.

He did not say that the Evangelical church may very well be on the brink of returning to the reformation of the 1500's. Nor did he say the Emerging church movement was possibly the forefront of a possible reformation. He did say that continuing to approach theology as we have done in the Enlightenment context of the Reformation would prove to be insufficient for dealing with the Post-modern world. He was very specific by what he meant in that statement. The Puritan approach to theology was adequate for it's day, but would prove inadequate in dealing with the Post-modern world, and he knew he would make enemies making that statement. (Please note that the Professor did not say the Puritan approach to theology was totally useless; a critical distinction.)

Are we on the verge of another reformation? I don't presume to know, but I know theological thought in the Evangelical churches has not been static over the last 50 or more years. Nor has all of that relatively more recent theological development been of a negative nature, but on the contrary some of it has been very positive.

What does it profit if I have all knowledge and have not love? Is doctrine the central focus of the local Christian church, or is that central focus Jesus Christ? Is community the central focus of a local Christian church, or is that central focus Jesus Christ? Both doctrine and community are important, but it is the person of Jesus Christ Himself that is to be supreme in any church's life and ministry.

Over the last 500 years since the last reformation, we in our different rooms in the Evangelical church have done quite well at defining our differences with one-another. Perhaps if there is another reformation, it will be marked by how we define those things we hold in common. In any event, that which will bring another reformation is the same thing that brought about the first reformation, the making of Jesus Christ central and supreme above all else.

Sola Deo Gloria,

~ The Billy Goat ~

Friday, March 04, 2005

Henry Moore Art Images On-Line: has pulled together in one spot a number of on-line images of the work of Henry Moore. This is the link: Henry Moore Art Images.

I'm posting this link as a follow up to my review of a local exhibit of Moore's work, Lines, Shades, and Forms - The Art of Henry Moore. Cheers, ~ The Billy Goat ~
Cornerstone University
Spring Break LA Mission Trip

"What do you get when you mix six on-campus students, two commuters, one graduate, and one adult seminary student? The Los Angeles CCM Spring Break Team. Read about their experiences with ethnic foods, interacting with homeless people, and serving at different ministry sites all over the city. Nobody knows what we're doing each day - the schedule has been kept top secret, enhancing the learning experience and cultural immersion of the trip. Read and stay up to date on the happenings of the trip!"

My daughter, the one who blogs as Elfstone, is one of the two commuters who are part of the Los Angeles CCM Spring Break Team from Cornerstone University. The team has set up their own blog site for posting updates on their experiences on this trip. (See link above.) They leave bright and early tomorrow morning, and our prayers go with them. Please pray for travel safety, God's protection on them while in LA, and that much good will be done for the inner city people the team seeks to serve.

Sola Deo Gloria,

~ The Billy Goat ~

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Line In The Sand: John W. Howe, Episcopal Bishop of Central Florida, has drawn a line in the sand with regard to the on-going controversy in the world wide Anglican Communion over the American (ECUSA) and Canadian Anglican Church's actions on homosexual issues. Bishop Howe states explicitly, "...if the Episcopal Church decides to walk away from the Anglican Communion it will also walk away from me." Here are some excerpts from Bishop Howe's statement.
"Both Churches, the Episcopal Church, USA, and the Anglican Church of Canada, have been asked by our brother and sister Anglicans from around the world to choose whether we wish to remain part of the Anglican Communion, or, in the words of the Windsor Report, to walk separately. We have been generously given until our General Convention in 2006 to make this choice (and, actually, we could take up until 2008 to do so, although the only presently available venue for the Episcopal Church to make this choice is next year's General Convention).

We have been told that our membership and fellowship in the Anglican Communion is highly valued, and no one wishes to kick us out or excommunicate us, but there must be conformity to the Communion's common understanding, teaching, and practice if we are to continue to enjoy that status. We have been given the space to make this choice carefully, prayerfully, and in a leisurely manner.

The unstated implication is inescapable. In the words of one of the leading Primates of the Communion, the Communique is written in extremely gentlemanly and diplomatic language, but it is unambiguous in what it says: Communion with those in the Episcopal Church, USA, and the Anglican Church in Canada who will not repent has been irretrievably broken. He went on to say that the Primates are equally clear that it is the Anglican Communion Network (which Central Florida joined in September of 2003) and those who will submit to the recommendations of the Windsor Report who are the true Anglican presence in the USA.

In my opinion we are at a pivotal point in Anglican history. Faithfulness to the teaching of the Scriptures and the whole of the catholic and Anglican tradition has been reaffirmed, and revisionist innovations have been rejected.

The choice before us is between genuine repentance, and with it restoration to full participation in the Anglican Communion ... or permanent separation. True repentance in this context would not merely consist of expressing regret that others are troubled by our decisions and actions, but full compliance with the Lambeth Resolution that homosexual practice is incompatible with Holy Scripture AND a radical commitment to the pastoral care and concern for homosexual persons and the repudiation of any kind of discrimination or abuse toward them. (Bishop Howe's complete statement can be found here.)

The Bishop's "line in the sand" along with the ominous legal state of affairs in Canada as noted in The Billy Goat's March 1 report on the Same-Sex "Marriage", "Hate Crimes", and the New Totalitarianism article by Michael D. O'Brien, points to an inevitable crisis of conscience and faith facing the North American Anglican Communion. Our conservative and evangelical Episcopal friends need our prayers and moral support. Their struggle is our struggle. May God be with them, and keep them faithful to His truth.

For His glory,

~ The Billy Goat ~

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

LifeSite Special Report - Same-Sex "Marriage", "Hate Crimes", and the New Totalitarianism
by Michael D. O’Brien
LifeSite Special Report - Monday February 28, 2005

"...Proliferating crime is endemic to contemporary democracies, it seems, and the Western world is awash in so many laws that one hardly dares guess what will next be made illegal. Strangest of all is that so much of the new legalism is directed not at criminals but at the moral structure of private life...

The recent passage of Canada’s Bill C-250, which amended the hate crimes law to include sexual orientation, is a case in point, and the looming “same-sex marriage” bill is another. A number of aspects of the new hate crimes law are especially disturbing. For one thing, previous to the passage of this law there already existed in Canadian law abundant protection of human rights, including protection against discrimination on grounds of “sexual orientation.” What is distinctive about the new law is its criminalization of negative criticism of homosexuality as such.

...Of course, the ink is still wet on the document, and charges have not yet been layed. For the moment we are in the eye of the storm, a temporary calm. There is a widespread drawing back as journalists, teachers, and pastors ponder their options. At the same time activist homosexual groups have been bombarding a number of pro-family, pro-life organizations in this country with mockery and threats, planning strategies (in open forums) for neutralizing all opposition, warning that those who don’t keep silent on homosexuality will go to court, and to jail. The high level of emotional violence in homosexual militants’ strategy is at times astounding. They seem consumed with hatred and determined to bring about an entire social revolution in their favor...

...Is it so far-fetched to consider the possibility that we are in a downward slide toward totalitarianism? Few people would go so far as to maintain that we are living in the early phase of an Orwellian 1984 or alternatively a softer form of totalitarian government such as Huxley’s Brave New World, yet the elements of State-enforced social reconstruction are now in operation. We should also consider the fact that in just over one generation we have been shifted from a society in which homosexual acts were a crime under the then existing law, to a society in which homosexual acts have become a government-protected and fostered activity, while voicing criticism of it “publicly” has become the crime. Call it by any name you like, but this is Thought Crime. As Orwell predicted, we have arrived at a situation in which “some of us are more equal than others.” ...

...More difficult to identify is the idealistic tyrant who expands his power in a sincere effort to protect what he considers to be the good of his subjects. He will reduce crime, balance the budget, bring order and a measure of material plenty to the nation. He will surely labour to make a better citizen of the raw material of his subjects. There can be a reassuring sense of security in all this—in the beginning. We feel so much safer in a milieu of dependable public services and an ordered economy, though we would, perhaps, remain uneasy about trading away certain freedoms in exchange for them. But it is precisely the elimination of personal responsibility which is the new totalitarian’s ultimate goal, for this is what he sees as our fatal flaw.

It must be understood that the highly motivated idealist is not merely interested in improving the exterior forms of society. Ultimately, he wishes to reform us to the core, to save us from ourselves. Of course, he will find that basic human nature is rather difficult to remold, and as time goes on he will need to continuously expand his power until his control approaches the level of totality. If he is clever at it and fills up the world with beautiful rhetoric, and takes care not to grossly infringe upon our pleasurable rights, and if, at the same time, he takes upon his own shoulders our unpleasant rights, the ones which demand effort and sacrifice, then he may get away with it. This is never more possible than in a historical period of extreme stress. In such a climate the lifting of our responsibilities is not felt as deprivation; it feels, rather, like relief from intolerable tensions. Somebody at last is doing something about the human condition! A sick society is getting therapy! A cancer patient puts himself into the hands of his doctor, so why shouldn’t a “dysfunctional” people entrust itself to its sociopolitical physicians?

Somewhere during the therapy there is a decisive transfer of power and responsibility. When this happens on a massive scale something is seriously amiss. There may not be brown-shirts and jackboots marching in the streets. No public book-burnings. No grotesque executions. In some cases there may even be no visible dictator, only a system or a social philosophy which permeates and controls everything. Indeed, the world may appear to be perfectly normal. The philosopher Josef Pieper points out that this is the most dangerous form of totalitarianism of all, almost impossible to throw off, because it never appears to be what, in fact, it is..."

(Complete article found here.)

Oh Canada! Oh Canada!
Which way will you go?
When tyranny calls,
Will the Maple Leaf fall?
Or to truth and liberty hold?

~ The Billy Goat ~