Friday, March 27, 2015

I Won't Say the Words "Mother Nature"

I won't use "mother nature," because nature is not my mother. At best, nature is our "sister," because we are co-creations--neither came from the other, both were directly formed by God. But nature is more like a pet, because we have dominion over it. The fact that this dominion is fallen and therefore incompletely exercised at present is, I suspect, the reason for why people are in awe of nature: they fear what they cannot control, and I think "Mother Nature" is in some ways a rationalization attempt by people, like pretending to make friends with the monster under your bed--making something scary into something more familiar. People see nature as "mother" as a way to deal with their fear of its obvious power to harm us and our inability to control it. But we who love God have nothing to fear, because we know that God controls nature and has promised to work all things for our good. So knowledge of the truth drives out fear.

~ Rak Chazak

Friday, March 13, 2015

Topical Bible Study: Manna, Bread of Life, and Communion

Mind Supernovae

Wednesday afternoon and evening into Thursday morning was a day of several "aha" moments that came in rapid succession, making connections in my mind between things I hadn't experienced contemplating together, yet.

Number One: The Justification for Divorce

1 Corinthians 7
"12 If a brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with him, she must not divorce him....15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or sister is not bound in such circumstances, for God has called us to live in peace."
Matthew 19 gives the justification for divorce as being adultery, in pretty strong terms: "I tell you that any man who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman, commits adultery." (Matthew 19:9).

I have good reason to believe, based on my understanding of the character of God, that He would not call it sin to separate from someone who was physically abusive, especially to the point of putting your life in danger. But I had not been able to find any explicit Biblical justification for it outside of Matthew 19. So I had reasoned that the desire to murder your spouse would fall under the category of infidelity, since you'd be blatantly breaking your spousal commitment to honor them and protect them and pursue their best interest. But since Matthew 19:9 didn't directly address violence, it was a bit of a stretch, even if I supposed that Jesus took it for granted that His audience would agree that violence was impermissible in marriage.

I think now that I misread the passage. Assuming for now that the English renders the grammar equivalent to the original Greek, then Jesus isn't saying that sexual immorality is the only permissible reason to divorce. It's more grammatically appropriate to understand Him as saying that sexual immorality is the only permissible reason to remarry. But once again, since His audience is all Jews, it seems to be in the context of divorcing a woman who is of the faith.

So now, the synergy:

* 1 Cor 7 says that divorcing an unbeliever is permissible (not required), on the basis of whether the unbeliever wants to divorce.
* 1 Corinthians 7:11 says that if you divorce a fellow believer, you may not remarry
* Matthew 19 gives the only condition where remarriage is permissible as being if your believing spouse committed sexual immorality against you -- infidelity.

And the application:

* If you're a believer yoked to an unbeliever, you can divorce them if they want to divorce
* If you're a believer who divorces a believer for any reason other than that they committed adultery against you, you may not marry someone else. You must either reconcile with them and remarry them, or (my interpretation) if they marry someone else, you're no longer bound to them because the consequence of remarrying them would require an additional divorce, compounding the sin.
* If your spouse commits a pattern of abuse toward you and/or threatens to murder you, that person is not a believer. I'll stand up and say that anyone who wants to harm their spouse -- let alone murder them -- does not have the Spirit of God in them. And as we saw above, you are free to divorce an unbeliever who clearly doesn't want to live with you as a husband or wife.

So we see then that the Bible justifies divorce in the case of infidelity, physical abuse and terrorization, and attempted murder. You are free to remarry in each of those cases.

What the Bible does not justify is "no-fault divorce." If you separate because you dislike each other's personality, don't enjoy sex any more, are feeling bored or tied down, don't find your spouse attractive, etc, those are not valid reasons to divorce or remarry. Considering that since your divorced spouse is still your spouse, if you marry someone else, the act of consummating that marriage constitutes sexual immorality, which then justifies your first spouse's right to marry someone else.

**   **          **   **          **   **
Number Three: Bucket Lists Are Borne of the Fear of Death

This one's shorter (gotta get to the Bible Study topic). I got the idea here:

The major premise of having a "Bucket List" is to accomplish a certain amount of things before you die, because after you die you won't have any more opportunities to check off the things you wanted to experience -- be it skydiving, surfing, riding an elephant, climbing a mountain, etc. The problem with this belief is that it's totally contrary to Biblical Christianity. For us, this life doesn't end at death. We have continuity of experience between this life and the future glorified state we'll exist in in eternity. If you don't get the chance to climb Everest or dive to the bottom of the Marianas Trench or orbit the earth or walk on the moon or ride a dolphin or glide over the Alps or any number of exciting adventures, you won't miss anything because the future holds even greater adventures. "Eye has not seen, nor ear has heard, the wonderful things that God has prepared for those who love Him." I don't have to get all the adventure in before earthly death, because I'll have an infinity of adventure to look forward to. What does it matter if I see the Andes through a PBS broadcast and never walk it myself? We can't overlook the adventure that we're a part of in Christ. Just being owned by Him is an adventure all its own, because there are new things to be discovered every day (look at what I'm writing about!). I not only look forward to flying and trekking all over His New Creation after death, but I'm not overlooking the adventure I'm in the midst of right now! I'm free from the fear of death, to pursue things other people might consider mundane, but which are important in the grand scheme of things, if only because it pleases God and is part of His master plan.

And now, for an explanation of how a David Jeremiah Turning Point broadcast led to an epiphany for me about the significance of the bread in the Lord's Supper. I've said before that I'm a lover of symbolism in God's Word. You likely already know that the bread symbolizes Christ. But we're about to go even deeper.

Number Two: What Manna and "Bread from Heaven" do to illuminate the sacrament of communion

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Another unintended consequence

This refers to the previous post that points out how accusing men who DARE say that women should take preventive action to reduce their risk of rape, of "blaming the victim," is actually sexist when you follow the reasoning.

Guys who tend to get accused of this in online fora (I speak as one, but also as an observer) tend to be more thoughtful than their genuinely misogynistic counterparts, and are willing to stick their necks out and put forth reasoning that there's a risk people won't bother to read or understand, and choose to mock and slander them and accuse them of being secret rapists and haters of women, as punishment for saying what they really think...

The feminist attack on such men feeds into an existing narrative among chauvinist males, that being their paradigm that states that men should never bother reasoning with women. They shouldn't be thoughtful, shouldn't be honest, shouldn't be truthful about what they really think. The chauvinists think that the best way to interact with women is to ignore them, be withdrawn in conversation, and when you do speak, to make witty comments that put them off center and make them competitive, to artificially create a situation where the woman is voluntarily dependent on praise from a man who doesn't respect her enough to share with her who he really is. It's incredibly manipulative.

So by accusing thoughtful men, who don't spout the identical narrative that 3rd-wave-feminists expect, of secretly being sexist etc, feminists encourage the sexist ideas that men should never be open and honest with women, because they (women) resent truthfulness and sincerity (which I don't believe, but can you see how it would reinforce it among someone who believes or is prepared to believe it?), and so you should accommodate their lack of intelligence and attention span by eschewing intellectual conversation and simply making occasional backward insult/compliments to throw her off guard and maker her think that that kind of guy is engaging and fun to communicate with.

I'm sure there are some women who can be manipulated this way. It nevertheless doesn't mean that the chauvinist narrative is correct. But for shame, feminists who proclaim to be ambassadors in defense of and on behalf of women, do themselves feed into and by their resentful actions against responsible men who don't speak the way they would like end up promoting sexism and the cultural influence of chauvinists.

Feminists like this really don't know what's good for them.

Once again, Feminism = Sexism. Disagree? Let's hear it.

~ Rak Chazak

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

People Who Accuse Others of Victim-Blaming Are Demeaning Women

Victim Blaming: Accusing someone on the receiving end of some calamity to be responsible for its occurrence. 

ex: "Telling women not to put themselves in situations where they might be sexually assaulted is blaming the victim. The only thing that causes rape is rapists."

Often heard from: feminists, "social justice warriors," change advocates of various kinds that are commenting on violence or gender related issues.

Please see my treatise on why this argument is only half true, and ultimately hurtful despite its being (maybe) well-intentioned: Treatise: Third-Wave Feminism's Irresponsibility Double-Standard

*  *        *  *        *  *
So how does accusing someone of "victim-blaming" demean women?, I'm sure you're dying to know.

I'll answer. But first let me clarify that it's certainly possible to be legitimately at fault for blaming victims, which is wrong.

Scenario A: "She should have known better. By getting wasted drunk around a bunch of frat guys, she brought this on herself."
Verdict: Victim Blaming. Disgusting assertion that she's responsible for someone else's sins against her.

Scenario B: "Rapists bear the full responsibility for their own actions. Even so, it's wise to be aware of risks and take action to mitigate your exposure to them. Please consider the way you dress, the people you socialize with, whether you walk alone, whether you carry mace/air horns/a gun, and whether you overtly sexually entice men around you, as ways to help protect yourself."
Verdict: Not Victim-Blaming. You can take action to protect yourself without implying that you're responsible for what others do to you otherwise.

And yet, this is often attacked as "blaming the victim" by feminists in online fora. I submit that this could be because the feminists a) really have no clue how to solve the problem and don't want to believe that they can fix it because that makes them feel uncomfortable and morally conflicted, and b) really resent men and want all the attention and responsibility to be theirs (men's).
  1. Teaching someone how to drive is not blaming the victim if they are involved in a car crash.
  2. Police officers wearing bulletproof vests are not blaming the victims of homicides for their gunshot wounds.
  3. Teaching wilderness survival, gardening, hunting etc doesn't "blame the victims" of famine, starvation, or those who die of thirst or exposure to the elements.
Giving someone tips for how to protect themselves from getting hurt is not asserting that they are responsible for undesirable outcomes, when something happens that hurts them, which are out of their control.

Now that that has been emphasized, there are some direct consequences of this.

When someone discusses rape prevention in the vein of scenario B above, and someone responds to accuse them of "blaming the victim," then that person is actually demeaning women and promoting sexist attitudes that contribute to rape.

Say whaaat? Let me guide your thinking:

Paradigm shift 1
Taking away someone's responsibility takes away their ability. Taking away their ability takes away their power to effect change. Taking away their power takes away their freedom of choice, and makes them helpless victims of circumstance, at the mercy of their abusers.

This is what denying women their right to prevent rape (by denying that they have the ability or responsibility to protect themselves) accomplishes.

Paradigm shift 2
By asserting that rapists are the sole factor in rape**, advocates are denying the woman's responsibility over herself. By denying her responsibility, they assert that women are incapable of doing anything to protect themselves that might actually decrease the chances of getting raped. This makes women out to be defenseless. This view is sexist because it portrays women as weak and ineffective compared to men, who always get what they want because they alone have the power and are the sole determinant of what they will be able to do.

Paradigm shift synthesis
Taken together, the logical conclusions of accusing "scenario B men" of "blaming the victim" is the promotion of the belief that women are incapable, and men are capable. That women are irresponsible, and men are responsible*. That men can rape, but women cannot stop rape. That women don't have the freedom of choice, to choose their own destinies, in the context of whether they will be raped or not. That women are victims, and that men, by contrast, must be victors. That women are helpless and defenseless and at the mercy of the decisions that men make. That men get what they want, when they want it, from whom they want it. The buildup of all these contrasts encourages the subconscious prejudice in both men and women to see women as weak and inferior and men as strong and superior. It is the very epitome of sexism.

Therefore, though promulgated in the name of feminism and the defense of women, any attacks against the character or motive of a man, or the impact of his statements, if he encourages women to seek to protect themselves from the sort of men who would take advantage of them, nevertheless has the effect of PROMOTING SEXISM.

Feminism = sexism. Against women, no less. I could not be clearer.

Women, think twice about attacking any man that disagrees with you about some issue that touches on gender relations.

Men, take courage, and be careful to make sure you speak wisely on this issue. Sexism rules on "both sides," and it is your responsibility, as someone who seeks to honor woman, to fight against the things that hurt her even when it's what she believes with all her heart to be in her best interest.

~ Rak Chazak

* note the equivocation in these terms. It's nevertheless the impact of using these words without clarification and therefore the conclusion is sound.

** Rapists are solely responsible for their choice TO rape. But rapists don't exist in a void and strike at random. This is evidenced by the fact that most rape is "acquaintance rape." Rapists must CHOOSE their targets, and to do that they need motive and opportunity. You have the ability to deny them the opportunity, and to some extent their motives. If you have this ability, should you act on it? Then that is the same as saying that you're responsible for your own actions that can mitigate or exacerbate the risk of being raped. Please read this treatise to see that there are two senses of the word 'responsibility': culpability and personal governance. To say that you're accountable for yourself is not to say that you are to blame for what someone else does to you. The consequences of denying personal responsibility over your choices leads to absurdity.

Friday, March 6, 2015

A God of Symbolism and Metaphor

In much of common usage, symbolism and metaphor are synonymous terms. There is a slight difference, in that symbolism refers to objects or concepts representing other objects or concepts, whereas a metaphor can refer to a word or phrase that stands in the place of another. In this way, there is overlap, since metaphor can be symbolic, as in the case of Animal Farm by George Orwell. Old Major is a symbolic representation of Karl Marx in the context of the story, and so every time you see the words "Old Major," that's understood to be a metaphor for "Karl Marx," and so you mentally substitute the words. So you could say that symbols are objects whose comprehension generates abstractions, and metaphors are abstractions which apply themselves to objects.
  • But the greatest thing by far is to have a command of metaphor. This alone cannot be imparted by another; it is the mark of genius, for to make good metaphors implies an eye for resemblances.
    • 1459.a4
~ Aristotle, Poetics.
"19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made..." ~ Romans 1
Aristotle recognized a divine truth.

As a matter of interest, note that "genius" is related to "generate," "generation," and "genesis." It was coined in distant ages to mean native talent, that is to say, "he was born with it." So genius is technically not learned knowledge but innate wisdom. It means you get something by virtue of being instinctively attuned to perceive it, and that you didn't have to be taught by someone else in order to make the connection.

Now, I believe 'nature and nurture' both are relevant in forming a person's thinking, but the emphasis on genius is that it has more to do with the wiring of their brain -- or the operation of the spirit aspect of the mind-brain interface -- than it does with what you learn. Accumulated knowledge is merely the way that you can identify wisdom, like glitter on a paper with glue makes a pattern. The way the glitter--here a metaphor for knowledge--sticks to the page reveals whether the intellect in question is genius or not.

Nevertheless, I agree with Aristotle that "command of metaphor" is a mark of a fine-tuned intellect. To be good at using and recognizing abstract relationships between notions, such as symbolism, analogies, metaphors, themes, etc, is to show the mark of a gifted mind. Gifted by whom? God, the giver of all gifts.

I love the fact that by reading the Bible, it's plain to see that God enjoys the use of symbolism. Every parable -- symbolic. Every eschatological prophecy -- heavy on symbolism. Every ceremonial law in the Old Testament paradigm -- symbolism (Matthew Henry's commentary was very helpful to me in this regard, because I had not realized before I studied the various purification guidelines (after an atheist insinuating it proved scientifically illiterate men wrote the Bible) how each aspect was symbolic -- everything points to the Cross). Every institution God created is symbolic: pastors, husbands, and lay believers-at-large are all representatives of Christ in some capacity. Marriage is a symbol of God's love for the Church while, in a lesser degree (because this is not emphasized in the Scripture as much) also symbolic of the Father and Son in the Holy Trinity, operating in a coequal loving relationship where one submits to the other and is no less God Almighty because of it!

I love discovering some new symbolism in the Bible. Mark my words, symbolism is not allegory. Something can be very real while at the same time being a symbol of something else. The statue of George Washington in Grand Central Station (?) for example. The fact that the statue isn't a real person doesn't mean that George Washington didn't exist. But ALLEGORY would say that the face on the $1 bill is not a real person, but an abstraction, a construct to serve as a national creation-myth, an explanation for why America is the way it is. So you can see the difference, I hope. I don't go looking for ways to allegorize Bible passages into something else, denying that it means what it says. I take the plain reading of the text -- and merely mean to say that I love digging into it to find the deeper meanings beyond the plain fact of the historical truths that are relayed to us.

The quest to identify symbolism is synonymous with the quest to answer the question "Why do we do this?" It is the answer to confusion about tradition. It is the merging of the modern practice of a thing with the understanding of the reason behind the initial institution of the practice.

Such knowledge is eminently helpful to Christians, to prevent them from a) having their faith shaken by people who challenge why seemingly absurd things are done or believed by Christians, and b) from concluding loopy, wonky theology because they don't understand the reasons why the Bible says something.

So to borrow from Aristotle's language, I exhort you to take command of metaphor!

~ Rak Chazak

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Blog Post #300! and "The Audacity of Nope"

In just under two years, I've posted 300 individual articles on this blog. That's an average of one every two days, or 3 a week, or 10 a month. Not quite so much as to be a distraction for me from life in flesh and blood, and not quite so rare as to be defunct, a blog of little potential impact on others. I'm happy with what I've been able to accomplish with it, while because of the comparably light expenditure of effort it takes to blog, I'm driven to seek to do more.

I do have a deadline, after all. I have a list of content I want to get through within the next 2 years, particularly subjects pertaining to basic theological truths and also some contemporary treatises (addressing persecution, eschatology, and "how then shall we live?" type questions) -- because once I am married, I can't exactly write as a 'Single Christian Guy' anymore, can I? And while I'm working on "finishing/completing" the blog, I'll be undertaking academic and professional efforts to become financially self-reliant, to free me to be able to responsibly engage a young woman in courtship. Have you noticed that my biggest running goals are directly tied to two of my core identities (which are really emphases of one)? -- To glorify God as His servant, and to be a Christlike husband for a woman who I will in the course of time be introduced to.

I am ever grateful to God for having freed my mind from worldly thinking, so as to enable me to comprehend marriage as He designed it, and to be able to love a woman with the same character of sacrificial love that He exhibits for us. I yearn for the opportunity to give back what I have gained, in the most powerful way possible on this side of eternity.

*   *   *   *   *                    *   *   *   *   *

That brings me to the second part of this post. Love is a great thing to give and receive, but the thing about love is that it's volitional. That means that it's a conscious choice. And anything subject to choice is subject to the possibility of the choice being either "YES" or "NO." So the existence of love implies the existence of the right of volitional agents (human beings) to choose not to love.

A universe where the creations can love is a universe with greater displays of God's qualities (one of those being Love), and therefore is a more perfect universe than one wherein which there is complete obedience but no love because there is no free agency, no volition.

This leads to some shocking contrasts between God's nonhuman creations and rebellious humans. Here are two quotes, one by a Church father of recent history, and one from a contemporary pastor, that make use of this point to challenge those who defy God.

"I set before you an open door. I set before you Jesus the Savior who died for sinners on the cross, Jesus able to save to the uttermost, Jesus willing to receive. Go to Him first and foremost if you would know what step to take. Go to Him in prayer and cry, "Lord, save me or I perish! I am weary of sleeping—I desire to sleep no longer." Oh! "awake you who sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light."
Sun and moon and stars are all witnessing against you; they fill their place in creation, and you do not. Sabbaths and ordinances are witnessing against you: they are all proclaiming there is a God, there is a judgment, and you are living as if there were none. The tears and prayers of godly relations are witnessing against you: others are sorrowfully thinking you have a soul, though you seem to forget it. The very gravestones you walk past this night are witnessing against you; they are silently whispering, "Life is short and death is near," all, all are saying, "Awake! awake! awake! "Oh, brethren, the time past may surely suffice you to have slept. Awake to be wise, awake to be safe, awake to be happy. Awake, and sleep no more!" ~ J C Ryle, The Ten Virgins
“God beckons storm clouds and they come. He tells the wind to blow and the rain to fall, and they obey immediately. He speaks to the mountains, 'You go there,' and He says to the seas, 'You stop here, and they do it. Everything in all creation responds in obedience to the Creator...until we get to you and me. We have the audacity to look God in the face and say, 'No.” ~ David Platt, Radical
Do not be amazed when you see the amazing intricacy of created nature, and then look to nations and families and individuals and see chaos and disorder. Do not be amazed. If something is wrong in the world, it is because we have refused to do things God's way. Do not be amazed. We were told beforehand.

Knowing this, can there be any wonder why I'm so excited to pursue God's model of romance? How I can get such delight from contemplating it as my duty to first and foremost serve my wife, for her greatest good? It's how God wants us to live. Selflessly. There was never anyone more selfless than Jesus Christ, who gave up His right to sit comfortably in Heaven and rule, in order to die in our place for the sins we deserve Hell for, to make it possible that we could be forgiven without dispensing with God's perfect justice that required a penalty to be paid. This is love. And if the Bible teaches that I symbolically represent Christ as the husband in my marriage to my wife, then how could I possibly approach that union with the idea that my own comfort and pleasure is paramount? I derive so much more joy out of living out the expression of grace and unconditional love and inseverable commitment that I've been extended by my Savior; imitating my King in grateful submission to His will, since I know His precepts are given to me for my good.

Is there a woman out there who desires a man like that?

I'll meet her at exactly the right moment. "Many are the plans of a man, but the Lord directs His steps."

~ Rak Chazak

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Scientific Plot Twists in Images

Science News  (in the January 24, 2015 print publication) has a few things to correct you about. I'll summarize below and then put images of the articles below the jump, to back up my interpretation.

Speaking with a silly voice turns your babies into geniuses

Simple conclusion following from the premises. When you use "Baby Talk," you alert the child to that you're communicating with it, and its brain becomes receptive to vocabulary, grammar, object and concept associations, etc. Rather than confuse a child, speaking multiple languages to a developing infant is IDEAL, because it's at that age that we are able to learn multiple languages at once, because of the way the brain is behaving--I've heard it likened to a "sponge." So don't withhold knowledge from young children. Certainly they won't pick up on every thing you say, but the more you teach them, the more they pick up. And that's now being recognized in psychological circles.

Protein restrictions in diet may benefit longevity

This one was hard for me to take, because high protein levels is physiologically ideal before and after sustained anaerobic strength training exercise, because you're supplying your body's cells with enough nutrition and "building blocks" to repair and remodel its bone and muscle so that it won't break down already-existing musculature in response to the mechanical stresses. That's established science, so this doesn't negate that. But when sulfur-containing amino acids were cut to a low level in the diet of worms and mice, it affected their longevity and post-operation recovery significantly. However, as common sense would warn, you can't extrapolate this infinitely--some sulfur is necessary, as shown by the fact that when hydrogen sulfide was blocked, the animals had no measurable increase in survival or longevity. So when you're not caring about maintaining muscle, it would seem that having the lowest necessary levels of sulfurous amino acids in your diet, rather than a surplus, would benefit your health -- of course, humans have not been tested yet, only animals. We might be more complicated than mice. :)

Trying to keep carbon out of the atmosphere by piping it underground could cause earth quakes

"That'll teach those frackers to exploit Mother Earth!"
Yeah, 'nuff said. Ideas can kill. Wrong ideas, like man-caused global warming, inevitably lead to people trying to implement solutions to problems that don't exist, thereby causing worse problems. If your solution to more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere involves putting us at risk of man-caused earthquakes, you just might be in desperate need of rethinking your misplaced concerns.

Homosexuality-obsessed Hollywood blatantly rewrites WWII history in The Imitation Game

"You mean Alan Turing didn't actually fail to report a Soviet spy in order to avoid being outed as gay?" 
Yes, that is what I am telling you. And not only that, but the pivotal moment in history that gave Turing the mechanism (electronic circuits) to realize his theory of computing (due to a switch-up in how the Germans were using their Enigma machines), was completely blotted out of the movie. So the origins of computers and the internet and everything electronic in modern society, which would have made for a great piece of history for Hollywood to portray, was glossed over in favor of overlaying a 21st century sociocultural narrative (that of the homosexual's reality consisting solely of fear of public humiliation) onto a context where the actual people involved would not have recognized it.

I'm not kidding. Alan Turing's story doesn't need modern polish. If you wanted to make him a martyr, why not note the fact that he married a female team member to hide his homosexuality? Or that he was forcibly given hormonal treatments by the British government, leading him to become chemically depressed and commit suicide? I'm not saying there wasn't legitimate oppression of homosexuals in history--and Alan Turing's story is a tragic one. But do you need to lie about the man's character and contributions to history in order to make your movie more dramatic? Shame on you.

Empiricism, while great in theory, apparently fails to be realized in actual scientific practice most of the time

This was a long article, so I'm not posting the whole thing. But take a look at all of the human elements that impact the reliability of published results. They are worth being aware of, and keeping in the back of your mind when you hear of sensationalized studies. I'm hardly bashing scientific research. The article addresses why some results are not perfectly replicable, with fair effect. But assertions made in papers are anything but monolithic presentations of absolute fact, and should not ever be uncritically received as such.

Ancient Egyptians and Scandinavians had trade contact. So their cultural religions, creation myths, cosmologies and pantheons were likely influenced by each other.

"These results demonstrate that the globalization of trade is not a modern invention." 

Ancient Egyptian cobalt-blue glass beads were found in graves in Denmark.

It should be noted that according to the historian Snorre Sturlason (c. 1200 A.D.), in his Ynglinga Saga, the namesakes of Odin, Thor, Balder, Frey/a, etc were all early founders of the Swedish empire at Uppsala, serving as warrior-priests. In other words, they were considered real living people who are placed at around 200-100 BC, and are described as having emigrated from Turkey to Sweden at that time. Their prominence would have later led them to be conflated with or exaggerated into god-beings. In other words, Snorre Sturlason was one of the first promoters of the critical view that cultural religious pantheons (such as the Greek, Egyptian, Roman, etc) begin as veneration and idolization of political leaders, and progress into ancestor worship and eventually an apotheosis, or deification of the distant human characters.

The date means that whereas the organization of the Egyptian and Norse pantheons may be influenced by each other, the namesakes of the Norse cannot derive earlier than the 100s AD, for historical reasons.

And here are the images:

Monday, March 2, 2015

Can I Keep Going to A Catholic Church After I'm Saved?

I figured I'd try to phrase this title to respond to Google searches.

Elizabeth Prata has made a number of posts the last few months to remind everyone that it's unwise to call people in different religions (Roman Catholicism, Greek Orthodoxy, Copts) "brothers in Christ" just because they claim to follow Jesus.

Push-back on this is inevitable. In the comments to this article about evangelicals being too comfortable with Rome, someone disputed a claim Elizabeth made in the article, that anyone who is truly saved will cease and desist attending Roman Catholic churches, and that staying put inside such a church is evidence that a person is not saved. The commentor (Glenn) said that she shouldn't/couldn't say that, because he's known people who have been saved in RC churches and continued attending for some time.

I piped up and gave my synthesis. The whole comment thread is at the link above. My comment is reproduced below.

"So when you read "Catholics are not saved" understand that the lengthier version is "Any Catholic individual who believes and accepts the dogmas of Rome are not saved.""

That directly addressed Glenn's stated concern, as I understand it.

As for people remaining or leaving an RCC church, understand that it's a process. I have a friend who was saved out of RCism. For some time she had been going with her family (still living under their roof) to their RCC regularly. She's been continually growing in understanding of doctrines such as submission, etc, and about a year ago informed her parents that she would not go with them any longer. Her concern may have originally been that participation would aid her ability to witness to them, and demonstrate child-parent submission, but eventually it became clear that she could not appear to support what she knew was damnable teaching. Neither I nor anyone else persuaded her to refuse to go to mass. She came to that conclusion herself as a result of the process of sanctification: regularly studying the Scriptures and having her understanding thereof illuminated by the Holy Spirit.

And I think that's what Elizabeth's saying. I condone her forceful statements with respect to people who are truly saved by necessity leaving the RC church they're in. To speak in terms of gray rather than black and white is not helpful, and mitigates the perception of the seriousness of the issue. 

I don't believe Elizabeth would insist on a strict timeline, that if someone goes to mass with their family a few times after believing on Christ, that their profession of faith is insincere. But as with showing spiritual fruit, it is something that is Biblically inevitable. If they never leave, then it shows that their conscience was never provoked by it, and that is evidence of the lack of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. So someone who is saved WILL leave a heretical church.

The difference in how long that takes is a function of their obedience, gain of Scriptural wisdom, and the Holy Spirit's prerogative in sanctifying their desires. But I daresay someone who stays many years is evidencing severe disobedience, doctrinal error, and most likely that they simply didn't receive the Gospel message in truth.

Reading what you two are writing, it doesn't seem you're fundamentally opposed, but the disagreement is over what way is appropriate to define the matter.

In that regard, I 'take Elizabeth's side,' because my major premise is that those who are truly saved will not lose their salvation if they risk being offended by her words. And those who are not saved need to know that being in an RCC church is Biblically unacceptable and they are in danger of hell. And i both cases, those still in an RC church are in need of being convicted in their souls. And conviction comes by the Holy Spirit through hard truths (truths you agree to in letter, Glenn), not by giving every single condition every time you make a statement, and thereby dulling the emphasis off of everything said.

~ Rak Chazak