Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Surprise, Surprise!

So, it turns out that President Obama isn't happy with GM's restructuring plans and has told them to go back to the drawing board with it.

Remember the AIG bonuses issue and the principle that emerges there: The minute you employ taxpayer money to bail out a private company, you've got big trouble because now the citizenry feel entitled to, and understandably so, some oversight on what AIG does with the money they were given.

Well NOW look what's happening. GM's on-deck for a bailout and now they're at the mercy of the administration and ITS priorities. No longer is GM serving its market… now it will serve the government because it's gonna get taxpayer money and, after all, now politicians have a say in the matter and it's not the free market that these politicians are interested in serving.

It turns out that there are 20 automobiles currently manufactured by GM that are profitable. Eleven of these are trucks and SUVs. The administration wants GM to stop production of these vehicles. Nevermind what the market wants. The administration, you see, knows better than the market. And now it can make GM do its will because GM is getting taxpayer money and GM's prepared to take it. But since the market's no longer being served, GM will become EVEN LESS profitable. What a God-awful mess this is.

Our great nation is being destroyed by socialists.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Outrageous Claims of Obama's Teleprompter

Barack Obama said something absolutely hysterical while in Pomona, California, touring the "Edison Electric Vehicle Technical Center Garage of the Future". Here's his brilliant quote:

For decades we've avoided doing what we must do as a nation to turn -- turn challenge and opportunity. As a consequence we import more oil than we did on 9/11. The... The 1908 Model T -- think about this! The 1908 Model T earned better gas mileage than the typical SUV in 2008. Think about that, a hundred years later and we're getting worse gas mileage, not better.

Let's correct Obama's hamfisted faux pas and consider all of the facts:

The Model T of 1908 was powered by a 177 cu. in. four-cylinder engine which produced 20 horsepower, propelling the Model T to a top speed of 45 mph. The mileage cited for the Model-T is 13-18 miles per gallon. The Model-T weighed 1200 pounds.

Now, Obama was comparing the Model-T with an SUV. I don't know which SUV, but let's take the biggest SUV flagship out there and compare these specs, shall we? The 2009 Ford Expedition is powered by a 330 cu. in. V8 producing 310 horsepower, more than 15 times the power output of the Model-T. The Expedition carries approximately 5 times the curb weight at around 6000 pounds. It's equipped with an automatic transmission, airbags, power windows, climate control, and a ROOF. The Model T had none of these features, nor did it have DVD players built into the back of the seats. The Expedition was engineered, as most cars are nowadays, with much thought toward crash safety. The engineers of the Model T didn't give crash safety the first thought. The Expedition will comfortably cruise at 70 mph, though the top speed would surely top 100mph, not that you'd ever want to drive one that fast. As for fuel economy, the Expedition can get as much as 18 miles per gallon.

Now, imagine installing a Model-T engine into a Ford Expedition and consider whether the T's engine would still get 13 to 21 mpg as it struggled to pull 6000 pounds down the road. I'm guessing that the thing would barely be able to move. You'd probably suck the Expedition's 28 gallon fuel tank dry in a just a few blocks, if you could even make it that far before blowing the engine. And think of the emissions of the Model T engine compared with the Expedition's!! The Model-T powered Expedition would leave a cloud of black smoke behind it as it crept along, trying to move 3 tons… and then when the engine finally exploded, you'd get a nice cloud of blue smoke and shrapnel everywhere.

Conversely, imagine putting the Expedition's powerplant into the Model-T. The T is so light, the mileage of that big V-8 would likely double.

President Obama doesn't have a clue. I can't believe people voted for this man. This was truly a stupid claim to have made.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Doctor, Doctor! It hurts when I do this!

All the outrage from congress over these bonuses to AIG execs really cracks me up. It's really a shame that people who are this divorced from reality manage to get elected to public office… I guess that means that the voters are this divorced from reality, too.

Everyone's pitching a fit over these bonuses which are really contractual obligations to AIG employees. Contractual… do you know what that means? Break the contract, get sued. And nevermind the threat of lawsuits… is it fair, is it moral to violate a contract? Before you answer, just ask yourself how you'd react if the contract you have with your mortgage lender or landlord were violated. Not good, right? We expect contracts to be honored, that's why we call them contracts. So if we expect the contracts we hold to be honored, then we ought to advocate that these contracts be honored as well. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, isn't that right? Love your neighbor as yourself, right? What kind of hypocrites would we be if we expected our own contracts to be respected, but then advocated that others' be used as toilet paper?

But what's really funny is that these idiots in Congress and our President appear to be utterly shocked and horrified to learn that the company that taxpayers bailed out last year will be using that taxpayer money (some of it, anyway) to pay these contractual obligations. And by the way, these contracts are nothing new… the congressmen who have their panties in a bunch have all known about them as much as a year. Read the story at the Wall Street Journal.

So the federal government thinks that it's possible, apparently, to hand out billions of taxpayer dollars to AIG and yet somehow avoid having that money be used to pay the company's obligations. WHAT PLANET DO THESE PEOPLE LIVE ON?

What's really going on here? These incompetent congressmen (and that's being charitable) wanted to have their cake and eat it, too. They thought it a good idea to invest taxpayer money into a failing private company like AIG, but now they've got a case of federal buyer's remorse… they see what they've bought and now it's too damned late. Of course, they never want to admit that, well, they were idiots for having made this decision, no… we can't have that. It must be AIG's fault somehow and, rather than get angry at Congress, we're supposed to angry at AIG and at the people who would receive the bonus.

This is exactly why government should never be involved with private businesses. The reason why you don't mix these two is because the government isn't supposed to have authority over private businesses… but the minute you hand taxpayer money to a private business, suddenly the taxpayers feel like the business is obliged to behave differently… more "responsibly" perhaps. I'm not saying that's unreasonable, but I'm saying that the taxpayers should never ever find themselves in that position because government doesn't have authority in the realm of business decisions like whether or not to hand out bonuses and in what amounts, nor should they.

And now, irony of ironies, we have Congressman Barney Frank saying that we ought to just fire these employees who are getting the bonuses. Well for one thing, they're getting the bonuses because they've performed well. Only a U.S Congressman could suggest firing someone who's doing their job well and somehow not lose his credibility. Incredible. And now you have a Democrat Congressman advocating that a number of people become unemployed… I thought Democrats were for "working people"?

As if all of that's not enough, there's something else funny about this whole thing… we have Congress--a body once famous for buying $600 hammers--complaining about AIG not being thrifty enough with the taxpayer's money!

The only right answer to this whole predicament is to have never bailed AIG out in the first place. Too late, now we're screwed.

But it's not just guys like Barney Frank who are responsible for this mess… I wish it were that simple. No, it's the people across this country who cast votes for people like Barney Frank. This is THEIR fault.

Monday, March 16, 2009

More on the Justice of God

I was pondering this question about to what extent our own sense of justice corresponds to God's, and a question popped into my mind. What, exactly, ARE the ten commandments? Are they arbitrary rules that God simply invented for the sake of having us follow them? Or are they actually reflections of own God's character? In the former case, the ten commandments would essentially reveal NOTHING about God. But in the latter case, we could learn much about God, could we not?

It's my contention that the ten commandments are a reflection of God's own character, and furthermore, that there's a specific purpose behind the ten commandments… that is, there is a rationale behind why each commandment is what it is. That rationale, seems to me, is that where there is murder, there is injustice. Where there is covetousness, there is injustice. Where there is adultery, there is injustice. Where there is theft, there is injustice.

The only exception to this pattern might be the sabbath, but even that is a reflection of what God did… that is, on the 7th day, He rested. But leave that aside because since we are no longer under the Mosaic Law (the ten commandments are part of the Mosaic Law) we are obligated to observe nine of the ten because they are reiterated in the New Testament to Church Age believers. The New Testament omits the sabbath law, so that law no longer applies.

But for the other nine commandments, you can clearly see that their violation results in that which is unjust. It's not FAIR that a man possess something that another man worked for, for example. It's not FAIR that a spouse violate their marriage covenant. It's not FAIR that a life be taken without proper justification. See, there it is again… that word "Just". Note that the 6th commandment doesn't actually teach "Thou shalt not KILL," but rather "Thou shalt not MURDER." The difference is that murder refers to taking a person's life without proper justification. There are, in other words, circumstances where killing a person is JUSTIFIED, even in the eyes of God. And "justified" means "fair." It's "fair" to kill a person if they are, for example, threatening your own life or the life of an innocent person.

So, bound up in these commandments is a very clear expression of what sorts of things violates God's own sense of Justice. And, wonder of wonders, they seem very consistent with what violates our OWN sense of justice!

The conclusion is that the Calvinist teaching that God punishes people in Hell for something God chooses not to give them (namely, faith) appears ludicrous on its face. We recoil at the INJUSTICE of this idea. We have exactly the same reaction that we would have upon seeing a father punish his child for not putting his shoes on while the father has hidden the child's shoes. We rightly see that as unjust, and that is precisely because God also see it as unjust. We certainly can know what God's sense of Justice because God has written it in our souls.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Answering Calvinism

I've said before I'm a "zero-point Calvinist who's not an Arminian" because I've become convinced that neither theological system actually fits scripture. I'd like to explain why.

Generally, the argument centers around God's sovereignty and man's choice and how to balance them. God is certainly sovereign. But we seem to have choice (free will) as well, and apparently God holds us responsible for the choices we make. Calvinism places greater emphasis on God's sovereignty while Arminianism places more emphasis on man's choice. My focus here will be Calvinism, however.

As I've learned more and more about Calvinism, I'm more and more puzzled as to why this is such a compelling view for people. Under Calvinism, our choice to believe is actually made by God. He chooses to "give us faith" and if He doesn't choose to "give us faith" then we can never be saved. Of course, Calvinists do have their prooftexts… there are several verses they will point to that might appear to support their view… at least as they have interpreted them. But when considered together with the rest of scripture, the way they understand these passages makes little sense.

Consider the following: One of the very basic questions any Christian ought to be able to answer is the question of why God gave man the capacity to choose evil, and doesn't that mean that God is the author of evil? The answer to this question ought to be a clue that figures into our consideration of Calvinist doctrine. What is the answer? If God had NOT given man the capacity to choose evil, then man's expression of love toward God would be meaningless. Our expression of love toward God is ONLY meaningful because we have a choice to go the other way!

A great illustration of this is the "Perfect Husband Talking Doll." Squeeze the doll's hand and it says things like "I love you" and "You know honey, why dont you just relax and let me make dinner tonight" or even "Actually, I am not sure which way to go. I'll turn in here and ask directions". Now this may be a funny gag gift, but it illustrates an important point. This doll is programmed to say these things… it cannot choose to say anything else. I cannot choose to say "I hate you." And therefore, when the doll says "I love you" it's completely meaningless. The point is, if God hadn't created us with the capacity to choose against Him, we would be robots just like the "Perfect Husband Talking Doll" and our expression of love toward God would be meaningless.

So think of that illustration when you think of God choosing to give some people faith and choosing NOT to give other people faith. How does this glorify Him? How is this of any value to Him unless we're the ones doing the choosing? Isn't our choice to put our faith in Him only glorifying to Him if it's really OUR CHOICE?

Of course, the nasty implication of this Calvinist idea that God chooses to save believers is that He chooses NOT to save unbelievers. He chooses to give faith to some and not to others, and this means that the "others" go to Hell not for something that THEY chose themselves, but rather because of what God didn't give them!! This coming from a God that is perfectly Just and fair? Really? Now the Calvinist response to this is that we should not impose our view of what's fair and just onto God… that maybe God's concept of Justice is not our concept of justice.

Well, that's an interesting point, but it turns out it's no magic bullet. Here's why:

1. If man is created in God's image, we have finite 'versions' of God's attributes. Our attributes are God's attributes, but in a finite (and fallible) way. Therefore, if God has the attribute of perfect justice, then we must have some sense of justice that resembles God's justice. Unfortunately, this still leaves room for God's justice to be "different" than ours, but it does help set up the following arguments:

2. God's justice figures into what we consider moral and immoral, does it not? For example… if a mortgage lender violates a mortgage contract by arbitrarily changing the interest rate from 6% to 60%, what basis would the borrower have to complain if we don't know what's "fair" in God's eyes? Wouldn't we just have to live with it? How can we make any judgments at all about what's right or wrong if we don't know what's fair and unfair in God's eyes? Isn't what's "wrong" and what's "right" determined to a large extent by what's fair (in God's eyes) and what's not?

3. If man's concept of "justice" doesn't match God's, then how do we know what His concept of justice is? And if we can't know what His concept of justice is, then what good does it do us to even say that God has justice? The Bible tells us that God is just… perfect, absolute Justice. Doesn't that presuppose that we know and understand what it means to be "just"? Doesn't "justice" as a description of anything become entirely meaningless if we don't really know what "justice" is?

So I'm not bothered in the least by that challenge. It's clear to me that our concept of justice actually does match God's, that we are meant to understand what Justice is by God's example. We certainly are not capable of carrying out justice perfectly… far from it. But this has more to do with our sinful nature, our lack of omniscience, and other factors.

One final point for this installment to head one other challenge off at the pass. Occasionally I hear the idea expressed that we shouldn't rely so much on our own logic when considering these issues… that God's ways are not our ways, etc. Yes, there are a few verses which might be applied in that way, but is this the right way to understand them? Is God irrational or illogical? And what about logic itself? Who's system of thinking is that? Did man invent logic, or did God?

Well, we have the Bible, correct? Is the activity of reading NOT an activity which requires logic and intellect? I'm not discounting the role of the Holy Spirit here, but God gave us the Bible so that we would read it, did He not? Does that not imply that God wants us to put our intellect to use? Does that not imply that we are to use logic? And consider John 1:1:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

It's well-understood that "the Word" here refers to Jesus Christ, and I do not argue with that. But it's interesting to notice that the Greek word for "Word" here is "logos" which means communication, writing, information. But also notice that "logos" is the root of the word "logic". Logic isn't a system of thought devised by man, it's God's system of thought! God is LOGICAL. When we think logically, we think like Him! Of course, there are big differences… our conspicuous lack of omniscience being one of many. But let's not be afraid to consider the Bible logically. Yes, the Holy Spirit has a role. But if we're not to employ our intellect to some degree in an effort to understand the Bible, then why give us the Bible at all? Yes, I know… I'm using "logic" again. Silly me.

I'll deal with other aspects of Calvinism later. This is already too long. He, he.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Beyond Stupidity

Last week I learned that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, with support from President Obama, has some grandiose plans for curbing gun violence. His solution is so immensely ludicrous, I can hardly believe it's real. In fact, I didn't think it was. I thought for sure that what I read would end up at Snopes.com or something. It was just too absurd.

Well, I found a story at the DC Examiner written by Scott Ott, and I'm afraid that yes, the story is legit. So what is this brilliant idea that Mr. Holder plans to implement?

The idea is this, and please try not to laugh hysterically: People who intend to commit crimes with stolen guns will be required to register those weapons with the federal government before actually using the weapon to commit a crime.

Now is that a swell idea, or what? We are going to rely on people (criminals) who, by definition are not inclined to obey laws, to register the weapons they stole. What is the aim of such a plan? Holder says this:

"Once we have a list of all of the guns owned by potential criminals, it will be much easier to track down the origin of a weapon that's been used in a robbery or murder."

Well that's interesting, but if a robbery or a murder has taken place, I'm far more interested in discovering the identity of the person who committed the crime than I am in discovering where the weapon came from. You would think that the primary application of this plan would be to actually help catch the perpetrator of a crime. Apparently we're only to be concerned with where the weapons came from.

Leave that aside for a moment. Why would a criminal register a weapon when he knows damned good and well that, once the weapon is registered, it will be that much easier for law enforcement to locate him whether he commits a crime with the gun or not? Just how stupid do we think criminals are, anyway? The whole point of stealing a weapon is to make it more difficult to find the perpetrator, is it not?

What planet does Mr. Holder come from?

Here's another incredibly astute quote from Mr. Holder:

"Guns don't kill people. Unregistered, stolen guns kill people."

Really!!?? Only guns that are unregistered and stolen kill people? Well in that case, I'd like to suggest that we replace our military's inventory of weapons with only unregistered, stolen weapons. After all, I want our military to be able to kill people when necessary, and surely they can't do it with the registered weapons they're currently using.

Here's a newsflash for Mr. Holder: People kill people, guns don't. People occasionally use guns to kill people, but there are many, many ways to take a life. I have never heard of a gun jumping up off of a table and shooting someone of its own free will. If someone has such a story, please do tell.

Back in the early 90s, Clinton-appointed Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders was advocating something almost as assinine. She called for "Safer guns and safer bullets." I can just imagine the laughter coming from the intruder inside my house when I face him down with my "safer gun" loaded with "safer bullets."

Here's the DC Examiner story.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Eternal Security Wrap-Up

Okay, I lied. This is the final entry. Gotta have some sort of summation, you know.

So there you have it. Twenty-five reasons why we can be absolutely certain that our salvation is eternally secure. When Christ promised eternal life, He actually meant eternal life and not "temporary" eternal life, which is not eternal life at all.

Now I understand why people object to this doctrine… I understand why they find it so offensive. It's offensive because people see it as some sort of "license" to sin. They can't imagine that God would let us get away with sin. I think that on some level, people understand the doctrine of Eternal Security to actually condone sin. Perhaps they think it makes too little of sin and encourages a casual attitude toward sin.

All of these reactions are completely reasonable and understandable from a human viewpoint. The only trouble is that we have the Word of God telling us in quite simple terms that, in the end, He has provided us a way to "get away" with sin. Now, of course by "get away with sin" I only mean the eternal consequences of sin. I don't mean that we can escape the consequences of sin here on Earth. All sins were paid for, Doctrine of Unlimited Atonement. But there's no good reason to understand this as any kind of endorsement of sin, nor is it a good reason to think that people who understand Eternal Security don't take sin seriously. I simply understand that sin is no longer an issue… our sins have been forgiven, and I take that seriously.

Psalms 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

Micah 7:19 He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

Sin is a serious problem. I get that. God cannot have fellowship with sin. I get that. But I also get that God, in His Word, tells us that in His love for mankind, He has taken it upon Himself to eliminate the sin barrier and provide us with the opportunity to spend eternity with Him in spite of our sin. This is what grace is!! It's undserved, unmerited favor. It's FREE.!!

And isn't it ironic that someone might suggest that I take sin too casually with my belief in Eternal Security? I would say that I take it so seriously that I realize there's nothing I can do to reconcile myself to God. Whatever the solution, the situation is so severe, in fact, that I can only rely on God's solution. That's how serious it is. And the logical conclusion to that is that, since I did nothing to merit my salvation in the first place, I can do nothing to secure it, either. I trust God, I trust Christ, completely. I'm hurtling toward Earth and I'm only wearing one parachute. No reserve. No "B-plan." With Christ as your main 'chute, why would anyone need a reserve?

In the final analysis, salvation by Grace sets Biblical Christianity apart from all other World religions. Christians ought to understand that they cannot take credit for their salvation in any way, shape, matter or form. But to imagine that something you might do, whether it's some egregious sin or simply a failure of faith, is to say that your salvation depends upon you and not Christ. But the Bible says to depend on CHRIST and not yourself.

If the Bible taught that we could lose our salvation, then the Bible could not teach that salvation is "by grace" and be internally consistent. That'd be like saying "free, for five dollars." It's doublespeak. A salvation that was billed as a "free gift" but that can be revoked or forfeited by our own actions (or lack thereof) is not really a "free gift" after all.

I, for one, am grateful that God's plan of salvation doesn't depend on me. I am hidden with Christ and I can know, with absolute certainty, that I have eternal life right here and right now, no matter what. And since eternal life means eternal, I know that means forever.

God said it, Christ did it, I believe it, that settles it.

Eternal Security Pt. 25: The Perfect Verb Tense

Okay, this is the final entry on this doctrine. And like Part 24, it concerns Greek verb tenses. This time the focus will be on Ephesians 2:8-9:

For by grace are you saved through faith, and that (salvation) not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.

Once again, the tense of "saved" here in the English is ambiguous. But consult the Greek and we get much more precision. The Greek verb here is "sesosmenoi" which is the "perfect tense" form of the Greek verb "sozo" which means "to save." The perfect tense refers to an action that was performed in the past, but whose results continue. So, by grace we have been saved… and in the perfect tense, this salvation happens once and that's it. You remain saved. There is no allowance anywhere in the perfect tense for that salvation to come to an end. It is done and there's absolutely nothing we can do to alter that.

The person who rejects Eternal Security has to be able to explain why the perfect tense is used in this verse, and also why the aorist tense is used in Acts 16:31. Did the Holy Spirit mess up here? These details cannot be ignored, particularly since they lead us to conclusions which are entirely consistent with the previous 23 lines of argument.

Next post: The Wrap-Up

Eternal Security Pt. 24: The Aorist Verb Tense

I think all too often we rely on our English Bibles, disregarding the fact that the original text in the New Testament was not written in English, and that translation from one language to another is not always an exact science.

The Greek language tends to be much more precise than English and in many cases ignoring the details of the Greek will lead to misunderstandings. An example which pertains to the doctrine of Eternal Security is Acts 16:31, where Paul and Silas tell the jailer what is necessary to be saved:

Believe on (rely on, trust in) the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.

In the English, the verb tense of "Believe" is rather ambiguous. But the Greek reveals something a little different. In the Greek, the verb here is "pisteuo" and it's in the Aorist tense. The Aorist tense has a specific meaning… it literally refers to an action that happened in the past, but whether the action is ongoing or continuous is not specified. In other words, it might continue and it might not.

The implications of this is profound. If you place your trust in Christ at a point in time, then you are saved whether or not that trust continues!! The Aorist tense here means that you might continue to believe; and you might not. But in either case, you will be saved. There's no room there for doubt.

Just one more to go…