Hymnus Deo

Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Friday, July 31, 2009

Satan Worship In America

I don't agree with some of the doctrines that James David Manning holds to. I don't believe we're living in the last days that Scripture speaks of, and I don't believe that Barack Obama is either the Antichrist or the Beast. That said, Manning's criticisms of Obama and Alinsky are largely correct. For more on Alinsky, see Doug Wilson's comments on him:


Soviet Healthcare - Please Read

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook. It's a must read.

From: Mizie Finke (Rep. Blackwood) [mailto:Blackwoodla@ncleg.net]
Sent: Thursday, July 30, 2009 3:53 PM
Subject: Rep. Blackwood Newsletter 7-30-09

Representative Curtis Blackwood


July 30, 2009

Folks, while going over some emails in the office, I came some interesting information on the Democrats’ big health care bill, H.R. 3200, America ’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009. While this is federal legislation and not state, the topic is of enough significance that I thought many of you would be interested in reading it. Please find below page references and direct quotes from the proposed bill.

Page 16: States that if you have insurance at the time of the bill becoming law and change, you will be required to take a similar plan. If that is not available, you will be required to take the gov option!
Page 22: Mandates audits of all employers that self-insure!
Page 29: Admission: your health care will be rationed!
Page 30: A government committee will decide what treatments and benefits you get (and, unlike an insurer, there will be no appeals process)
Page 42: The "Health Choices Commissioner" will decide health benefits for you. You will have no choice. None.
Page 50: All non-US citizens, illegal or not, will be provided with free healthcare services.
Page 58: Every person will be issued a National ID Healthcard.
Page 59: The federal government will have direct, real-time access to all individual bank accounts for electronic funds transfer.
Page 65: Taxpayers will subsidize all union retiree and community organizer health plans (example: SEIU, UAW and ACORN)
Page 72: All private healthcare plans must conform to government rules to participate in a Healthcare Exchange.
Page 84: All private healthcare plans must participate in the Healthcare Exchange (i.e., total government control of private plans)
Page 91: Government mandates linguistic infrastructure for services; translation: illegal aliens
Page 95: The Government will pay ACORN and Americorps to sign up individuals for Government-run Health Care plan.
Page 102: Those eligible for Medicaid will be automatically enrolled: you have no choice in the matter.
Page 124: No company can sue the government for price-fixing. No "judicial review" is permitted against the government monopoly. Put simply, private insurers will be crushed.
Page 127: The AMA sold doctors out: the government will set wages.
Page 145: An employer MUST auto-enroll employees into the government-run public plan. No alternatives.
Page 126: Employers MUST pay healthcare bills for part-time employees AND their families.
Page 149: Any employer with a payroll of $400K or more, who does not offer the public option, pays an 8% tax on payroll <>BR • Page 150: Any employer with a payroll of $250K-400K or more, who does not offer the public option, pays a 2 to 6% tax on payroll
Page 167: Any individual who doesn’t' have acceptable healthcare (according to the government) will be taxed 2.5% of income.
Page 170: Any NON-RESIDENT alien is exempt from individual taxes (Americans will pay for them).
Page 195: Officers and employees of Government Healthcare Bureaucracy will have access to ALL American financial and personal records.
Page 203: "The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax." (Yes, it really says that.)
Page 239: Bill will reduce physician services for Medicaid. Seniors and the poor most affected."
Page 241: Doctors: no matter what specialty you have, you'll all be paid the same (thanks, AMA!)
Page 253: Government sets value of doctors' time, their professional judgment, etc.
Page 265: Government mandates and controls productivity for private healthcare industries.
Page 268: Government regulates rental and purchase of power-driven wheelchairs.
Page 272: Cancer patients: welcome to the wonderful world of rationing!
Page 280: Hospitals will be penalized for what the government deems preventable re-admissions.
Page 298: Doctors: if you treat a patient during an initial admission that results in a readmission, you will be penalized by the government.
Page 317: Doctors: you are now prohibited for owning and investing in healthcare companies!
Page 318: Prohibition on hospital expansion. Hospitals cannot expand without government approval.
Page 321: Hospital expansion hinges on "community" input: in other words, yet another payoff for ACORN.
Page 335: Government mandates establishment of outcome-based measures: i.e., rationing.
Page 341: Government has authority to disqualify Medicare Advantage Plans, HMOs, etc.
Page 354: Government will restrict enrollment of SPECIAL NEEDS individual s.
Page 379: More bureaucracy: Telehealth Advisory Committee (healthcare by phone).
Page 425: More bureaucracy: Advance Care Planning Consult: Senior Citizens, assisted suicide, euthanasia?
Page 425: Government will instruct and consult regarding living wills, durable powers of attorney, etc. Mandatory. Appears to lock in estate taxes ahead of time.
Page 425: Government provides approved list of end-of-life resources, guiding you in death.
Page 427: Government mandates program that orders end-of-life treatment; government dictates how your life ends.
Page 429: Advance Care Planning Consult will be used to dictate treatment as patient's health deteriorates. This can include an ORDER for end-of-life plans. An ORDER from the GOVERNMENT.
Page 430: Government will decide what level of treatments you may have at end-of-life.
Page 469: Community-based Home Medical Services: more payoffs for ACORN.
Page 472: Payments to Community-based organizations: more payoffs for ACORN.
Page 489: Government will cover marriage and family therapy. Government intervenes in your marriage.
Page 494: Government will cover mental health services: defining, creating and rationing those services.

The N.C. budget appears to be in its final stages; will have more state and budget news for you in the next newsletter.

Representative Curtis Blackwood is serving his fourth term in the N.C. House, representing District 68 ( Union County ). He may be reached at his Raleigh office, Room 1317 State Legislative Building , Raleigh , NC 27601 , (919) 733-2406, or via email at curtis.blackwood@ncleg.net.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Making Man in Reason's Image: The Enlightenment and the Birth of Modern Humanity by James Schmidt: an Audio Lecture Review

This is a series of audio lectures on the Endarkenment (what most people call the Enlightenment) put together by Barnes & Noble. The lecturer is Professor James Schmidt of Boston University. It is good so far as surveys go, though with a few faults. Since it has been a while since I studied the Enlightenment, for instance, I would have found it more helpful if the professor had spent a little more time discussing the details of the French Revolution. Also, the second to last lecture contains a discussion of the nature of revolution. Unfortunately, the professor tended to lean towards the perspective that confuses the philosophy of Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the American Revolution (better titled the American War for Independence) with other movements that bear the name "revolution". To his credit, he did spend some time discussing Edmund Burke's views on this, and he did his best to maintain a neutral position on the question. Nonetheless, his own views were apparent. He obviously believes that the Enlightenment was a good thing, and believes a pluralistic view of religion is a positive thing. And since one can only be so thorough in a survey, I was left with at best a surface-level view of the ideas of the Enlightenment. In spite of all this, I still found this a helpful overview, and recommendable to the discerning listener.

VeggieTales' Moe & The Big Exit - a Video Review

I've enjoyed alot of the Veggie Tales, though I don't believe the most recent ones have been as good as the older videos were. But if there's one thing that I wish they had generally stayed away from, even since their early days, I would wish they had never attempted to write versions of Bible stories. I think Moe and the Big Exit is worst rendition of a Bible story they've ever produced. Here, they've taken a somber story such as the Exodus, set it in the Old West, and made Moses and Aaron into the Lone Ranger and Tonto. But that isn't the worst of it. Veggie Tales' versions of Bible stories are inevitably sanitized, because, it seems, children can't handle things in stories such as death. Try telling that to the Brothers Grimm. Children handle gorey elements in stories better than we think, but we seldom find it out because today we unduly shield them from stories with violence in them, unlike previous generations. Veggie Tales follows this modern approach, and in this case ruins the story of the Exodus. Water turned to blood becomes water turned to tomato juice, and death is being "sent up the river". It seemed apparent that the writers struggled with the difficulties here, as hints that death was taking place were apparent at times, and the music and artwork were often crafted in such a way as to signal the seriousness of certain situations. But Veggie Tales is inherently a lighthearted, feel-good sort of cartoon, and shallowness and triviality were unavoidable. The worst of the video was in the attempt of recreating the scene of Moses at the burning bush. Here, it is a tumbleweed, with arms, no less. Once again, it was apparent that the writers recognized that they were treading on thin ice. One did not here the voice of God from the burning bush; instead, a narrator filled in the message given to "Moe" for us. Nonetheless, the "armed" tumbleweed did take on personal characteristics, making it clear that this bush represented God. It was my understanding that the Veggie Tales writers had said they would never represent God in anyway. While they might squeak by on a technicality here, by noting that the bush itself was not a manifestation of God, I think it's reasonable to say that they crossed the line on this one. The tumbleweed clearly was a personification of God, whether or not they intended it to be. And the end result was the trivialization of God. This video is a couple of years old (2007), and I haven't seen every Veggie Tales video to know if the negative traits of this one is becoming a regular aspect of them. Hopefully, criticism has been raised by others since the release of this video, and the Veggie Tales crew has rethought some of their mistakes. If not, they will soon find themselves on the trash heap of former Christian merchandising schlock, and rightfully so.

Judges: At Risk in the Promised Land, by E. John Hamlin - a Brief Book Review

E. John Hamlin's commentary on Judges, subtitled At Risk in the Promised Land, was the third of three commentaries I used for our study in the book. I consulted it the least, generally preferring James Jordan's and Daniel Block's over Hamlin's, mainly due to the fact that Hamlin's is especially brief (182 pgs.), and that much of the same territory Hamlin covered was also covered by Block or Jordan. For a shorter commentary, however, it is quite good at touching on all the important points. I didn't always agree with his conclusions, of course. Like most commentators, he believes that Jephthah actually put his daughter to death as a sacrifice, whereas I believe the argument can be effectively made that Jephthah's daughter was simply made to serve at the Tabernacle for her entire life as an offering. Hamlin also agrees with the majority of commentators who hold that the entirety of Samson's life was conducted strictly in self-serving ways. I think a better reading of the text shows that, while certain elements of selfishness may be involved, Samson generally behaved righteously through the beginning of ch. 16, when his inclination turned more definitely toward evil. And Hamlin views the actions against Benjamin by the other tribes of Israel to be unwarranted and excessive. When one looks at how the Mosaic Law instructs Israel to deal with Canaanized peoples, however, it becomes clear that the rest of Israel acted in full accordance with God's Law. A few serious disagreements to the side, Hamlin's commentary is still quite good. He brings out important historical and cultural factors pertinent to understanding Israel's interactions with the other inhabitants of the land. Hamlin was (or is, I do not know) a professor in Thailand, and this comes out at times, as he uses illustrations, or refers to things or places that would be more known to readers in eastern Asia than to us in the West. This I found refreshing, though I didn't always get the reference. And he does a great job at highlighting important Hebrew words in the text, and discusses ways that those words are used elsewhere in Scripture, though his habit of expecting words to carry the exact semantic range at the time of the writing of Judges as at other points in Israel's history, such as the time of the exile, is overreaching, I believe. This last matter can be explained, though, by what I believe to be the biggest flaw of Hamlin's commentary. In attempting to set the time of the composition of the book of Judges, Hamlin proposes that Judges was written during the reign of Jehoiakim, in the years leading up to the Babylonian captivity. This wouldn't be such a big problem if Hamlin didn't then seek at times to shape his interpretations according to the belief that his dating of the composition was absolutely correct. Knowing Hamlin's theory hung on slender evidence, I often found myself unwilling to take seriously his readings that leaned heavily upon his theory. While it may actually be that Judges was written during Jehoiakim's reign, other theories concerning the date of composition seem to me to be just as valid, and with no way of determining for sure, Hamlin would have done better to avoid such a speculative approach. All in all, would I recommend Hamlin's commentary? For those who aren't seeking an in-depth study of the book, I would. But for those willing to do some more serious spade work, a commentary such as James Jordan's is a far better choice.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Judges: A Practical and Theological Commentary, by James Jordan - A Brief Book Review

When we decided to cover Judges in Bible study, I knew James Jordan's commentary was the one I wanted to use as my primary aid in understanding the book. Jordan is often criticized for the unusual amount of attention he gives to typology, and in the sort of typologies he proposes to find in Scripture. Each person will have his own opinion on this, of course. But while I would agree that he sometimes proposes ideas about a text that are a bit far-fetched, I find that after some reflection on his suggestions I often eventually come around to his interpretation. To give one example, I find his suggestion that Samson was largely a righteous man in the earlier portion of his life to be correct, as over against any other commentator I've ever read on the subject. Jordan at least has the courage to question and re-examine traditional interpretations, to his credit, and it usually works out for the good. One other good trait of the book is the way Jordan applies the text to current social conditions. Writing in the '80's, Jordan's commentary on the totalitarian State is just as relevant today as it was twenty years ago. I supplemented this commentary with others, so anyone studying Judges won't want to use only Jordan's. But after having gone through Judges with it, I consider Jordan's commentary an invaluable tool to understanding the book.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

John Cassian's Inconsistent Semi-Pelagianism

I received this quote in my email last night:

God is not only the suggester of what is good, but the maintainer and insister of it, so that sometimes He draws us towards salvation even against our will and without our knowing it. It follows then that no one can be deceived by the devil but one who has chosen to yield to him the consent of his own will. - Saint John Cassian (360-433)

I have read nothing of Cassian myself. He is credited, of course, for advancing the Semi-Pelagian view of sovereignty and free will that has carried on in some form or another down to the present day. I found this quote to be quite interesting in that light. The second sentence of that quote is clearly semi-Pelagian. But the first sentence seems to go against all that semi-Pelagianism stands for. It is clearly in the classical Augustinian stream of thought. I guess it just goes to show that the sovereignty of God in salvation, being the truth, is ultimately inescapable (to some degree) even by those who, though true believers, set themselves against it. As it has often been said, an Arminian has a tendency to sound like a Calvinist when he's on his knees.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Solar Eclipse Over Asia


God works his wonders in the heavens. And, as usual, some people enjoy it, while others respond with a multiplicity of superstitions. Follow the link, and you'll find a video of the eclipse along with the reactions of various onlookers.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Can't quite figure out...

...what went wrong on that last post. Apparently, on some browsers, it pushed all my posts to the bottom half of the page. Note to self: when you have the time, learn more about HTML.

Abandoning the Sabbath

The Isle of Lewis, the isle of my ancestors, becomes the last island in Scotland to abandon the Sabbath: http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/news/display.var.2520862.0.When_the_boat_comes_in_first_Sunday_ferry_to_Lewis.php

Monday, July 20, 2009

The New Atlantis - Text Patterns - wait - where did it go?

Amazon advertises the Kindle as if it's better than actual books. This should make one think twice before believing it. Think you own the books you "purchased" for your Kindle? Think again.

The New Atlantis » Text Patterns » wait — where did it go?

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What's So Bad About the Battle Hymn of the Republic?

Steve Wilkins gives a much needed history lesson:


Monday, July 13, 2009

Confessions of a Heretic by Dave Hunt: a Book Review

Growing up in a Dispensational church, I had learned of Bible teacher Dave Hunt when I was in my late teens. He himself came from a Plymouth Brethren background, and as is characteristic of Brethren teachers, spent a fair bit of time teaching on issues of the end times, the subject which seems to draw most people to him. It was only sometime after having read a fair bit of his writing in his newsletters that I was told he had once claimed to have had Charismatic experiences, such as the Baptism of the Spirit and speaking in tongues, only later to deny that these things took place. He wrote of his experiences in a book called Confessions of a Heretic, which he had let go out of print after he determined he had falsely interpreted his experiences, and now spends a fair bit of his teaching criticizing Charismatic teachers. We're currently discussing Cessationism in Bible study, so since I had picked up Confessions of a Heretic a couple of years ago, I thought I would give it a read. In the midst of reading the book, I thought I would contact Mr. Hunt's ministry, The Berean Call, to see if he had in fact come to view his charismatic experiences as false. I was surprised to receive the response that Mr. Hunt saw no Biblical evidence to suggest that the more controversial gifts, such as prophecy and tongues, had passed away. His concern, the email said, is with those who carry out practices that claim to be the Biblical gifts, but which in fact are abuses and false expressions of the gifts. I doubt that many of those who read or listen to Mr. Hunt's teaching will know that he is, in fact, a charismatic of sorts.

The book itself tells of Hunt's experiences of many business-related miracles, particularly the near failing of a business he oversaw, in which God seemed to miraculously save the business repeatedly, in spite of bad business decisions, not to mention the illegal activity by Mr. Hunt of writing checks without funds backing them, on numerous occasions. Hunt goes on to tell of experiences of laying hands on his children when they were sick, only to find them suddenly and miraculously healed; the supposed experience of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as a second work of grace; Hunt's experience of speaking in tongues in private prayer; and many other seemingly miraculous events. All of these things led to Hunt's excommunication from the Brethren Assemblies, as anyone who knows the Brethren would expect. In the end, all the events appear to lead to the Hunts' moving to Europe, where the book closes.

So far as the style of the book is concerned, it reads like the typical Evangelical biography. It was an easy read, not particularly complex in sentence or narrative structure, and I finished it in a few days. Like the standard Evangelical biography, Hunt's book seems primarily concerned with communicating a series of events in an overly simplistic way, the point of which is to convey a message. In such writing, setting usually suffers, as it is mere window dressing, present only to convince the shopper to by the product featured in the display. This is Pragmatism in all its ugliness. Beyond this but connected to it, Hunt's book falls into a category I call "polemical narrative". Not only is Hunt seeking to tell of his experiences, he is attempting to make an argument through the story, particularly a defense of himself in each of the circumstances he tells of. In "polemical narrative", the desire to make an argument overwhelms the act of storytelling to the point that the art of storytelling becomes secondary to the "message" and therefore becomes substandard. Essentially, when a writer of narrative becomes more concerned with convincing the reader of a certain set of facts than creating a good story, you end up with a poorly written story. This, I would say, is a good way of explaining why writing by Evangelicals is often so bad, especially when they attempt to write fiction. For these reasons, I didn't find Hunt's book to be especially good writing. I stuck with the book because it was a nice break from some heavier reading I had been doing, and because of my curiosity about Hunt's Charismatic past. But the writing was barely engaging, and I often found it laborious to stick with it.

When it comes to the events discussed in the book, I must confess to mixed feelings. For some time in my life I held to the traditional Cessationist viewpoint with regard to miraculous gifts, but there have been questions in my mind about this viewpoint for a number of years, questions which have gradually produced significant doubt about it. I can't say that I am a Non-Cessationist at this point; certain of the traditional Cessationist arguments still carry weight for me. Nonetheless, I would not call myself a full-blown Cessationist. Simply put, it's a matter I'm studying and thinking my way through at present. If nothing else, the way that the debate has been carried out in recent history is something I believe needs revamping. Both Cessationists and Non-Cessationists tend to carry certain assumptions with them that owe more to a Newtonian, or even a Deistic, worldview than either side recognizes, the main assumption being that God stands outside of His Creation and aloof from it, only to occasionally stick His finger in to meddle with it. But this is contrary to Scripture, as demonstrated most clearly in the Psalms, and testified to in the Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 5. God upholds and governs all things in history, carrying them out according to His foreordained plan and for His own glory. When a person speaks in tongues, it isn't that God all of a sudden decided to step in and do something, whereas He hadn't been acting before. He is constantly at work, and if tongues are His doing, then He is simply at that moment acting in a way different than what we are used to. And if God doesn't ordain tongues for today, that doesn't mean He is generally inactive, for He is constantly at work in every corner of His universe.

There is also the matter of Rationalism, which Cessationism tends to fall into. The assumption, probably more implied than clearly stated, is that God never works through non-verbal means to communicate to people, or, at least, that non-verbal means are substandard to the point of being nearly worthless. But this is more than dubious. While it is clear that non-verbal means are not sufficient in themselves for communication, God regularly used non-verbal means to communicate in Biblical history. Therefore, to raise an objection against all non-verbal means of communication is not merely to raise an objection against non-verbal means, but against God as the One Who has seen fit at times to work this way. And to assume that God no longer works in non-verbal modes of communication since the completion of the canon of Scripture seems very clearly to contradict Scripture's own teaching on Creation and Providence.

I have been intrigued with those in the Reformed community who have either rejected Cessationism outright, or else offered the possibility of a sort of modified Cessationist view. Certain well-known names come to mind immediately, such as John Piper, Wayne Grudem, C. J. Mahaney, and Joshua Harris. But there have been others such as Vern Poythress, James Jordan, David Chilton, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and Gordon Fee. Then one encounters innumerable professions of miracles, more often from what may be called the looney Charismatic fringe, but not entirely so. I think, for instance, of the occasional claim of miracles that comes from Evangelicals on the mission field. None of these things are fully convincing in my own mind. But they should at least cause one to think carefully before pronouncing all such claims as false.

Therefore when I encounter Mr. Hunt's experiences, I'm hesitant to make a declaration about them. I wouldn't doubt Mr. Hunt's record of what actually happened. But I would doubt his interpretation of the events. While I can't claim he didn't have some sort of dramatic, post-salvation experience, to go labeling it as the "baptism of the Holy Spirit" seems to be a bit presumptuous. This is apart from the fact that Scripture seems to teach very clearly that no such "baptism" is normative in history, but rather was confined to certain circumstances in the period of transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant, leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A. D. And if God worked miraculously in particular situations in Mr. Hunt's life, which it seems He apparently did, it makes more sense to consider it God working patiently with Mr. Hunt in the context of his immature presumptions and wrong understandings. Just because God saved the business Mr. Hunt was overseeing from bankruptcy, and that on many occasions, doesn't mean that it was right for Hunt to follow his feelings and the nebulous "what God seemed to be saying to him" in his decision making. It simply means that, as in many cases in our lives, God acts in our favor in spite of us more than we know.

So while I wouldn't claim to know exactly what was going on in every situation that Mr. Hunt tells of, I didn't find the book convincing enough to make me a Charismatic. Certainly, some of the circumstances are more easily explained than others. But it will take a Scriptural argument if I ever become completely convinced of the Non-Cessationist position, and Hunt's book, for the most part, doesn't provide that argument.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Page Does Not Know The Score

Guilford County residents, these are your tax dollars at work. As the article notes, this is also bureaucracy at work. It might not be immediately obvious, but this is an example of how totalitarian regimes work, though the situation at Page is at the microcosmic level. The goal of totalitarianism is power and control, not the good of the people. The motivator is fear. Rather than dealing with the real issue, totalitarianism finds a scapegoat (Rene Girard is proven right again). And totalitarianism understands, far better than the general public, that he who controls the music of a society steers the society whichever direction he wants.


July 02, 2009

Jules Pegram will go down in history as the man who nearly "murdered" Page High School's graduation - and that's something Guilford County Schools can't take away from him.

Page, like every school in Guilford County, hasn't expelled a single student since the consolidation of Guilford County Schools in 1992 - despite a recent history that includes an October 2007 25-student cafeteria brawl that resulted in 11 arrests.

And yet Page and Guilford County Schools administrators, in a fit of bureaucratic overreaction and just plain control-freakishness, this spring spent months working to prevent Jules Pegram, a talented Page student, from using four notes of a barely controversial school spirit song in a composition to be played at the high school's June 8 graduation.

The administrators won in the end, preventing the lovely orchestral piece from being played. In the process, they nearly lost the right to play the school alma mater and fight song by enraging the original composers of those songs, who rallied to support the young composer.

Read the rest here:

Page Does Not Know The Score

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