Sunday, October 08, 2006

"God in Three Persons, Blessed Trinity"

The Trinity. Three in one, and one in three. We’ve all heard of it, and we’ve all sung the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” in which we find the words, “God in three Persons, blessed Trinity.” But have any of us taken the time to really think about the nature of the Trinity and its seemingly paradoxical nature? Or do we just dismiss it as another one of those doctrines which we are probably not meant to understand? Throughout this discussion of the Trinity, I hope to be able to Biblically explain this fascinating topic without making it sound like Christianity is a polytheistic religion. I will be using Gordon Clark’s book, “The Trinity,” as a major reference, and I highly recommend that book to anyone who is eager to further their understanding on this issue.

To start off, let it be made perfectly clear that we as Christians serve one God. Throughout the entire Old Testament we find references to God being a single spiritual entity. Probably the best representative verse of this fact is Deuteronomy 6:4 which says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” (For other references see 2 Kings 19:19, Ezra 4:3, Nehemiah 9:6, Psalm 72:18, Psalm 83:18, and Isaiah 37:20.) The strictly monotheistic nature of the Bible is really beyond debate. When we talk of the three Persons of the Trinity, we are not speaking of a plurality of gods, but rather a plurality of spiritual natures within a single essence.

A suggestion of the plurality of God’s nature is given to us early on in Genesis 1:26 when God first decides to create man: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…’” (See also Gen. 3:22 which coincides with the verse just given: “…Behold, the man has become like one of Us…”) Because there are several different interpretations of these verses, they are not offered as conclusive evidence for the Trinity specifically. However, it is still interesting to note that many theologians agree it’s perfectly possible for these verses to be referring to the three Persons of the Godhead when interpreted in the context of Trinitarianism. Also, look at the singular/plural peculiarities of Genesis 18:1-16 in the story of the three men coming to see Abraham (due to the length of the passage in question, it will not be quoted in full here, and so the reader is encouraged to look it up for himself). Again, it’s impossible to form a dogmatic conclusion as to whether or not the three men are symbolic of the Trinity, or if they are simply the Lord and two accompanying angels. Whichever the case may be, the strangeness of the wording in the following text makes for some interesting considerations: “…behold, three men were standing before him…he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground and said, ‘My Lord…’” Although there were three men there, Abraham refers only to one when he says “My Lord.” It’s not conclusive, but it’s certainly suggestive.

The comparison of Isaiah 8:14 with 1 Peter 2:5-8 also sparks some Scriptural indications of Trinitarian doctrine: “He (the Lord) will be as a sanctuary, but a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, as a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 8:14) “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up the spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ… Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient… ‘A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.’” (1 Peter 2:5-8) So in the first verse, the Lord is the one who is referred to as a “rock of offense” and in the second verse, Jesus Christ is the one who is a “rock of offense.” It is apparent, then, that the Christ of the NT and the Lord of the OT are one and the same being and yet, based on the evidence of passages like Mark 14:36 in which Jesus refers to his “Father,” it is also apparent that while He and the Father are one, they are at the same time separate in some way as well.

Before discussing the Trinitarian point of view any further, I would like to briefly take a look at some of the doctrines which have been founded in an attempt to explain the oneness and yet separateness of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Perhaps by demonstrating the falsity of these dogmas I will be able to utilize the Transcendental Argument to give my final conclusion some extra weight. 

Dynamic Monarchianism—This view suggests that Christ’s deification was progressive and that he began life a normal, mortal man. Eventually, the Holy Spirit entered him in a singular and special way and at this point he became homoousis (of the same essence or substance) with God but only in the way that man is homoousis with his own state of rationality. He experienced the power of the Holy Spirit to such a strong degree that eventually, as was said, he became a deity. This view is obviously in major disaccord with Scripture—particularly the earlier sections of the Gospels which deal with Christ the Son of God as a baby and young boy—and won’t be exhaustively refuted in this paper. For some quick references which disprove Dynamic Monarchianism, see Matt. 1:20 where Joseph is told in a dream by an angel that the Baby in Mary’s womb was conceived of the Holy Spirit. If Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit, he could not possibly have been born as a completely normal, mutable man. See also Matt. 16:16, Mark 1:1, Luke 4:41 (Even the demons recognize that Christ is the Son of God!), John 6:69, John 11:27, and Acts 8:37 for further statements concerning Christ as the Son of God.

Modalism—Modalism suggests that God is an absolutely exclusive, single being, not having three parts in His personality. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are simply three different names for the same, specific Being. As one unknown writer put it, “There is a three-fold mode of revelation of God, but not a tripersonality within His being.” The Son, as he appeared on earth, is not an eternal being, but God the Father as a human version of Himself who is only to completely disappear as a redemptive figure when He ascends into heaven after His time on earth is finished. Neither is the Holy Spirit a separate personality or nature, but that part of God that works sanctification among men. This view is probably better known in the modern world as Sabellianism or Patripassianism. Modalism is the easiest of these doctrines to confuse with Trinitarianism, so refutations for this viewpoint will be expounded upon shortly.

Tritheism—This position claims that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are completely different gods that are in some unknown way unified. But it is made clear that the three members are as different as three mortal men are from each other. It’s really just a fancy way of saying polytheism. And since, as Christians, we know that polytheism is an unbiblical concept, an in-depth rebuttal of Tritheism is unnecessary.

Arianism—Arianists hold that, since God is immutable, His divine substance or essence can not be transferred or shared by any other being—be it immortal or mortal. Arians claim that Christ was God’s first actual creation, and that Christ, as a divine being but not a deity (don’t ask me how they can make a distinction between the two), created everything else including the Holy Spirit. The Arians’ favorite catch-phrase about Christ is, “There was a time when he was not.” This is the last of the false doctrines which will be addressed, and due to the great controversy it sparked in early Christian history, additional time will be spent on its history and various refutations.

To return briefly to the subject of Modalism/Sabellianism, first read this much more comprehensive, defining quote by Gordon Clark, “Sabellianism is the view that God is a single Person; there is not a second Person called the Son, nor a third called the Spirit. Rather, when God is active in creating the universe and controlling it, He should be called the Father; when He is active in redemption, He should be called the Son; and when active in sanctification He is called the Spirit.” So the Sabellians can come across sounding doctrinally intact when they agree that Christ is God. The major difference you have to notice here is that when they say “Son,” they are referring to a title for a specific type of activity, and when Christians say “Son,” we are referring to an actual spiritual being, separate from the Father in nature. One refutation for Sabellianism can be found in Romans 6:3, where Paul speaks of baptism only in Jesus Christ. Sabellianism requires baptism into all three functioning personalities of God, otherwise baptism would be incomplete. Another Biblical point which is contrary to what the Sabellians would claim is found in the apostolic benediction commonly used in the NT, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” In this statement only two of Sabellianism’s three functions are given, even though all three titles are listed. They are also in the wrong order for Sabellianism. More evidence is that the Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit. Also, the Son prays to the Father as a separate Being (for instance, in the Garden of Gethsemane). Thus it becomes increasingly clear that God is not a single entity with multiple functions and respective titles, but rather that there are three separate Persons in one essence.

A short discussion and refutation of Arianism will close this study of the false doctrines that attempt to explain the three members of the Godhead. Arguing against Arianism, and integral to the raging debate of the same in the early fourth century, is a Church Father by the name of Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria. Athanasius was the key figure in opposing the Arian movement and staunchly defended the Trinity his entire life until his death in AD 373. In roughly AD 319 a man named Arius began teaching that there was a time before God the Father supposedly created the Son when Christ the Son did not exist. About three years before Athanasius succeeded Alexander as Bishop of Alexandria, he attended the first Council of Nicaea in AD 325 as the latter’s secretary when the Nicene Creed, which for the moment anathematized Arius and his followers, was produced. To the Arians, the Word was a creature, created by God and thus a work not sharing the same essence or substance (homoousis) as God. And yet in John 1:1 we find the famous passage stating that the Word (or Logos) was God. Since the Arians claim that Christ (the Word) was a creation at the beginning of time, it follows that He must possess a status, or rank, if you will, lower than that of God the Father. And yet the Bible always speaks of the two as equals; in Genesis it is clear that Christ did not create the world as an agent of God, but that the two as one created it together. 1 Corinthians 8:6 says this: “Yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we live for Him; And one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.” So if Christ was the first Creature rather than God’s begotten Son, we would be children of Christ, rather than children of God. And as children of a created Christ, we would only be separated from God the Father (by being morally attached to Christ as the Father’s creation instead of attached to Christ as the Father’s essence) rather than being united with Him. So it follows that Christ’s sonship to God cannot be a moral one, such as the sonship of all Christians to God, but rather Christ’s sonship must be a natural one, as Isaac was the son of Abraham. Thus, if Christ’s sonship is a natural sonship, then He could not have been created by God since it has already been shown that Christ as a creation could not be God’s natural Son.

A short treatise called “De Decretis” or a “Defense of the Nicene Definition,” written by Athanasius refuting the Arian claims, is something I highly recommend to motivated and interested readers. It provides a logical and exhaustive rebuttal to Arianism and really isn’t as much of a daunting read as it might sound. In chapter three, Athanasius forms the argument that since creations are external to the creator, and since Christ is not external to God, it follows logically that Christ cannot be a creation. Furthermore, as Athanasius points out in chapter four of “De Decretis,” if Christ, as the Word or Logos spoken of in John 1:1 (also see 1 John 5:7), was created by God as the Arians would have it, wouldn’t they have to accede that before Christ was created, God the Father had neither Word nor Logos (logic or reason)? Christ is called the power and the wisdom of God in 1 Corinthians 1:24 and again in 1:30. If there was indeed a “time when he was not,” it would have to follow that there was a time when God, as Christ’s Creator, had neither wisdom nor power.

So then, since none of these ideas are logically or Scripturally accurate, what is the correct view? Or is there one? Can it be that we are, after all, not meant to understand the doctrine of the Trinity and to try would hence be a waste of time? I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers or to be perfectly correct in the answers at which I have arrived. The conclusions I have reached by reading and studying are only that which are the most logical and Scripturally compatible.

We know that God, Christ and the Holy Spirit are all infallible, immutable, and eternal. They did not have to learn anything; they simply know everything. They neither change their minds, nor have fluctuating opinions or ideas. And yet each of the Persons of the Trinity do not necessarily share the exact same thoughts as the others at the exact same time. Examples of this can be found in passages such as Matthew 27:46 which describe the last words of Jesus before His death (temporary though it was) on the cross, and also in Matthew 26 where Christ prays to the Father in the garden of Gethsemane. Persons who are able to think different thoughts than each other at the same moment in time, cannot be a single entity.

One major objection to this conclusion is a slightly revised version of the Third Man Argument first used by Plato as an inconclusive, self-refutation to his Theory of Forms (a completely different topic for another day). The argument is briefly as follows: Say you have three mortal, normal men. They are all similar to each other in that they are men and have bodies, minds, etc. In the Christian understanding, these men are an image of a more powerful, perfected version of themselves, and we believe that this more powerful person is God. The Third Man Argument claims that the similarity between the three men necessitates this higher Being (God). If we then say that there are three similar higher Beings (the members of the Trinity) which are representative of the lesser, imperfect men just spoken of, it would have to follow, according to the Third Man Argument, that there must be an even higher being which was the image of the trio of beings. And then there would have to be another fifth higher being that was more powerful than the last one by which to make the last one similar to the one or ones before it. Basically, then, when applied to the Trinity, this argument claims that the similarity between the three Beings presupposes another, higher being and that this being presupposes yet another, higher being and the process would continue ad infinitum.

The biggest problem with this objection is that since the three Beings of the Godhead are already eternal, all-powerful, immutable, and infallible, it’s impossible to conceive of a being higher than them. Also remember that each of the three Persons are not exactly similar to the others and each possesses a different personality with traits not common to the other two. The incarnation of Christ, for example, was something that happened exclusively to Christ and not all three. Thus it cannot possibly follow for one being which was higher than the three to be representative of the three as a whole.

So at the moment, without any major objections or theories now staring us in the face, where are we? Well, let’s look at a quick summary of Trinitarianism, the view which most logically explains the apparent paradox of the three Beings in one:

Trinitarian doctrine affirms that three persons exist or subsist within a single God. These persons are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. It is hence possible to maintain a monotheistic stance by stating the singular essence of a sole God, and yet it also puts both Christ and the Holy Spirit as separate Persons into the same oneness in essence with the Father. This is referred to as a “triunity” of beings and conveys the nature of a three-in-one Godhead. Again, this does not infer three separate gods, but rather speaks of each subsistence as a personality being on the same grounds of equality, eternity, and substance as the other two. It makes for an indivisible and perfect union in which each member has qualities privy to itself and at the same time shares in the work of the others.

There is a form of subordination, functionally speaking, between all members of the Trinity in that the Father functions as the head, the Son is beneath the Father, and the Holy Spirit is beneath the Son. This is more of a classification scheme in the process of redemption as opposed to an actual form of subordination. That is, the Father draws or chooses people, those people are saved through, and enjoy communion with, the Father through Jesus Christ the Son, and finally, sanctification is accomplished by the sending of the Holy Spirit to enter those people. In terms of ontology, however, the three persons of the Trinity are of equal status.

Simply stated, then, the three members are in a logical, causal order with each proceeding from the other from Father to Son, and Son to Holy Spirit. The Father is the head and source of all being (1 Cor. 8:6, Eph. 4:6, Eph. 2:18) and is revealed through the Son (1 Cor. 8:6, Col. 3:17) who in turn is experienced by the Holy Spirit working in a person in the process of sanctification (Luke 1:67, Luke 4:1).

Evidence for Trinitarian doctrine can be found in the baptismal formula (found in Matthew 28:19) “In the name (notice the singular) of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit.” Notice again how “name” is singular and yet three names are given. Also in 2 Cor. 13:14 we find the Trinitarian benediction, “The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.” We also find evidence for the Trinity at Jesus’ baptism in Mark 1:9-11: “It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven, ‘You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’” Here we can see that each member is fulfilling their respective duties. God the Father speaking to Christ as a Son, the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus, and Jesus Christ the Son Incarnate carrying out His time on earth to save people from eternal damnation.

For a final reference, 1 John 5:6-8 says this: “This is He who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth: The Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.” Notice especially verse 7: “…and these three are one.” This verse is the most conclusive of them all.

To conclude this short study on the Trinity, I would like to say that I believe it is impossible for us to fully comprehend this doctrine. Numerically speaking, it is not possible for 3 to equal 1 or vice versa, and perhaps that is why men over the centuries have tried to form comprehendible and numerically understandable doctrines about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Whether comprehendible or not, however, the truth of three in one in scripture cannot be denied and should most definitely not be explained away.

I believe Gordon Clark most fittingly closed his book with the words to the hymn mentioned in the beginning and so I shall do the same:

“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty, God in three persons, blessed Trinity.”

(Btw, in case anybody was wondering, this was a paper I just recently finished writing... :) Hopefully you found it of interest and I'm looking forward to feedback! And always remember........ ORANGE RULES!!!)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Does 1 Timothy 2:11-12 forbid the ordination of women?

Hey all...

This question has just recently been interesting me, and although the answer seems straightforward enough, I don't want to forget that this is a hotly debated issue in the modern church and hence don't want to jump to any possibly legalistic conclusions. I won't be posting my own thoughts just yet on here since I would prefer to hear some more opinions and complete a more ordinate amount of study on the matter, so I hope to see some of you in the comments for some helpful discussion!

Here's 1 Timothy 2:11-12:

"Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence."

One must keep in mind passages like Acts 18:26, where it is obvious that women are allowed to teach/correct men in a seemingly private/personal setting.

Also, in Acts 16:14, 40, we can see that an apostolic pattern for home bible studies and prayer times was set by a woman named Lydia, who was actually Paul's first European convert.

I'd really appreciate your thoughts! Thanks!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Economical Thought of the Roman Catholic Church: Part 2

Hey there peeps! (Btw, if any of you make it all the way through this post, you may congratulate yourselves on a very impressive accomplishment. :))

Okay, to continue just a little bit further with Part 1’s dealings with the Roman Catholic philosopher Thomas Aquinas’ ideas about the community of goods, allow me to begin this second part with a related quote from the late John Paul II’s 1987 encyclical “On Social Concern”:

It is necessary to state once more the characteristics principle of Christian social doctrine: the goods of this world are originally meant for all. The right of private property is valid and necessary, but it does not nullify the value of this principle. Private property, in fact, is under a ‘social mortgage,’ which means that it has an intrinsically social function, based upon and justified precisely by the principle of the universal destination of goods.

Basically, then, Catholics consider a person’s private property as being on loan from the rest of the world’s population. The “universal destination of goods” is an extremely important principle in Roman Catholic economic thought - so important and exalted is this premise, in fact, that Paul VI states that all other rights “whatsoever” are subject to it:

…each man has therefore the right to find in the world what is necessary for himself. The recent Council [Vatican II] reminded us of this: ‘God intended the earth and all that it contains for the use of every human being and people. Thus, as all men follow justice and unite in charity, created goods should abound for them on a reasonable basis.’ All other rights whatsoever, including those of property and of free commerce, are to be subordinated to this principle.” (Paul VI in his 1967 encyclical, “On the Progress of Peoples”)

That last phrase is very important, so read it again: “All other rights whatsoever, including those of property and of free commerce, are to be subordinated to this principle.” I wonder if Paul VI realized just how broad a statement he made. As John Robbins says, “All other rights whatsoever, of course, includes not only the right to private property and the right to free enterprise, but the rights to worship, speak, teach, write think, and publish freely—indeed, the right to life itself.” Do you begin to see the huge significance of this principle of the universal destination of goods in Catholic economic thought? And, to refer back to a statement I made in Part I, it is because they give this principle a place in the natural law that they are able to make statements like the above and the following, extracted from the Second Vatican Council:

If one is in extreme necessity he has the right to procure for himself what he needs out of the riches of others. Since there are so many people prostrate with hunger in the world, this Sacred Council urges all, both individuals and governments, to remember the aphorism of the Fathers, ‘Feed the man dying of hunger, because if you have not fed him, have you have killed him.’

There’s that call again that we first heard from Thomas Aquinas to go and simply “procure” whatever you need from the riches of others. Since the Catholic Church believes that private property is categorized in the positive law, they have no trouble at all concluding that it does not have any set, moral foundations backing it up and therefore is subject to human regulations and changes. We all know that complete, world economic equality is a status that is impossible to be reached. Someone will always have a little more of something than someone else. So, since inequality seems to be synonymous with need in the Catholic system from what we have seen so far, and since private property is at all times unequal, it would seem that according to Catholic doctrine, private property is an immoral institution.

Also notice the word “right” in the first sentence of the above quoted section of the Second Vatican Council. A right is something that is given by God and is natural to every man. To say, therefore, that it is the right of every man to take what he needs “out of the riches of others” implies that it was God who instituted such an idea. I find this very difficult to believe since the Bible, which is the Word of God, says nothing of such a right.

Okay, for the rest of Part II, I’d like to talk about how Catholicism and its economical ideas about the community of goods have influenced society within the last hundred or so years specifically. I’ll confine my discussion of this issue to two social establishments in particular:

1. Liberation Theology in Latin America starting in the late 1960s.
2. The Redistributive State and Interventionism found principally in the United States.

I may have to have a Part III here to cover Catholicism’s influence in America, but we’ll see what happens. 

Liberation theology, especially in Latin America, is one of the most recent forms of collectivism that the Roman Catholic Church has helped put forth. This so-called “theology” has well been called a form of “Christian Socialism” (Yes, yes, I know, that’s a blatant oxymoron…) since it is, in the words of one scholar, “an interpretation of Christian faith through the poor's suffering, their struggle and hope, and a critique of society and the Catholic faith and Christianity through the eyes of the poor.” It focuses on those parts of the Bible that appear to suggest that Christ came to physically liberate the oppressed from poverty and bring justice upon their oppressors. These passages are then sometimes used as justification for using arms and force to bring justice for the poor and suffering people. Some liberation “theologians” even go so far as to supplement the Bible as the sole premise for their actions with a few Marxist doctrines such as perpetual “class struggle” as they seek to find further justification for their beliefs and actions.

Economically and socially speaking, Catholicism completely agrees with what liberation theology is seeking to accomplish, and that is justice for the poor and equality of possessions. The only thing Catholics really disagree with is the secular and materialistic elements of liberation theology. They don’t promote the sometimes violent and extremist application of these ideas. So liberation theology is composed of principles which the Catholic Church agrees with, but it applies them in a way that the Catholic Church does not agree with, to put it simply.

An influential figure during the whole start-up of liberation theology was a man named Gustavo Gutierrez who was ordained a Catholic priest in the late 1950s and subsequently published a work titled “Theology of Liberation” in 1971. Mr. Gutierrez was never, despite some wishful thinkers who believe that the Roman Church has fundamental differences with liberation theology, admonished or reprimanded for his work. Why? Because on the whole, this branch of socialism in Latin America seeks to achieve goals which the Catholic Church has always approved of (as we have seen): social justice, the common good, and the universal destination of goods.

Let’s take a look at what John Paul II had to say in an interesting 1986 letter to the bishops in Brazil regarding this issue:

The Church does not hesitate to defend fearlessly the just and noble cause of human rights and to support courageous reforms, leading to a better distribution of goods, including earthly goods such as education, health services, housing, and so forth…. We are convinced that the theology of liberation is not only timely but useful and necessary. It should constitute a new stage of the theological reflection initiated with the apostolic tradition and continued by the great Fathers and Doctors, by the Magisterium and by the rich patrimony of the Church’s social doctrine, expressed in documents from Rerum Novarum to Laborem Exercens.

Furthermore, the Vatican itself endorsed the idea of the liberation movement’s “basic communities,” making no move to denounce the economic ideas of liberation theology. In fact, they reiterated its social doctrine as “a set of principles for reflection and criteria for judgment and also directives for action so that the profound changes demanded by situations of poverty and injustice may be brought about…

My friends, there’s a very important thing that I wish all the high and mighty officials both in the Catholic Church and in governments around the world would realize. And it is this: It is none of their business to try and run people’s lives, even if it’s in an attempt to make life better for them. They certainly don’t have the right to take money and possessions from wealthier citizens and distribute them “evenly” as they see fit among poorer citizens in an effort to equalize the world’s produce so that no one has more or less that he needs.

In Part I we talked about how Aquinas justified theft from wealthier persons, saying that the need of the poorer man automatically forfeited the wealthier man’s possessions. When I first read that I thought, “Nobody would ever have the nerve to actually act based on that belief, would they?” And then it occurred to me that people already have. And they have been for centuries. In the name of universal need, the government even in the United States has taxed the wealthy and put those taxes into universal goods distribution programs known more commonly as welfare, healthcare, food stamps, and the list goes on. The thoughts and writings of Thomas Aquinas are not just these theories to read about and then dismiss as nonsense. They are actually in action all over the world.

I repeat: It is a reality that, in the name of need, men justify theft and most people don’t even recognize it.

This is simply not the Biblical way to approach poverty. It is the individual Christian churches that are to watch over and shepherd their flocks, making sure that no-one is dying of hunger or being turned out in the streets. How do they do this? Charity. Not theft from the richer people in the same church, but charity and love for the person who is struggling. Individual people and business corporations can also, as we can see by looking at different large companies, give funds of their own free will to help those in need.

Heaven forbid if Matthew 25:35 was ever to be rewritten like Thomas Aquinas literature to sound as follows:

For I was hungry and I TOOK your food; I was thirsty and I TOOK your drink; I was a stranger and I SECRETLY entered your house.

I pray it will always be understood just as it is written:

For I was hungry and you GAVE Me food; I was thirsty and you GAVE Me drink; I was a stranger and YOU took Me in.
Christ did not come bringing socialism, He came bringing salvation. His purpose here on earth was not to create a utopia of equality among men and to apply the universal destination of goods, but to save souls from the eternal fires of hell and to spread love, charity, peace, kindness, and goodwill among men.

For a final question to advocates of Aquinas' system of beliefs: Why do you think Paul placed such a heavy emphasis on charity (or love, depending on your translation) when he wrote the famous I Corinthians 13 chapter if we are supposed to simply go and take whatever we need?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Economical Outlook of the Roman Catholic Church: Part I

Been awhile since I put anything up on here, and I’m pretty sure that nobody reads this blog anymore, but I thought I might as well post the first part of a short paper I’m writing for the fun of it on a book called “Ecclesiastical Megalomania” written to provide a truthful outlook on the economical and political outlook on the Roman Catholic Church. It’s very interesting, to say the least. Anyway, hope some of you find it food for thought.

The Roman Catholic Church has, for centuries, operated economically on the same primeval and flawed ideas thought up by Thomas Aquinas although application of these ideas has varied over the years. For an example, we can see the fruits of these ideas in the Medieval Ages where guild socialism and Feudalism obviously failed. Even in the 2oth century, Catholicism was a contributor to the Fascistic societies which built up in Italy and other countries. Not to mention redistributive state and interventionism even in the United States. Most this stemmed from the anti-capitalistic and anti-private property dogmas found in the writings of Thomas Aquinas.

A few crucial points to show that what the last paragraph stated is true, and also vital to the integrity of this entire paper, must first be established. The foremost of these is to understand how Thomas Aquinas, who was essentially the only official philosopher of the Catholic Church, viewed law and subsequently private property. First, let’s look at his outlook on law…

According to Thomas Aquinas, there are four types of law, with numbers 2 and 3 fundamentally stemming from number 1:

1. Eternal law. This category refers to God’s plan for how things are to progress in the universe. This includes such things as gravitational force and photosynthesis.
2. Natural law. How rational creatures (humans, in other words) relate to and participate in eternal law. What humans do naturally, such as talking to each other, thinking, living in societies; these are things natural to humans, just as growing towards light is something plants naturally do.
3. Positive law. This class includes all the regulatory laws and customs made by men and governments in an attempt to apply the natural law to people and cultures/societies.
4. Divine law. Obviously this refers to things divinely instituted, such as the Ten Commandments.

Now let’s turn what Aquinas, when deducing from his own set views on law, thinks about the institution of private property and I quote:

“…‘the possession of all things in common and universal freedom’ are said to be of the natural law because, to wit, the distinction of possessions and slavery were not brought in by nature, but devised by human reason for the benefit of human life.” (Summa Theologiae, ii-ii, article 5)

Thus, private property, as Aquinas views it, is categorized as a positive law or institution and therefore entirely subject to human alterations and regulations. To further establish this point, allow me to present another quote from Aquinas:

The community of goods is ascribed to the natural law, not that the natural law dictates that all things should be possessed in common and that nothing should be possessed as one’s own, but because the division of possessions is not according to the natural law, but rather arose from human agreement, which belongs to positive law…. Hence the ownership of possessions is not contrary to the natural law, but an addition thereto devised by human reason.” (Summa Theologiae, ii-ii, article 5)

So although Aquinas does not refer to the idea of private property (or, as he calls it, the “ownership of possessions”) as something that is entirely wrong, he denies it the same metaphysical standing that he allows what he calls the community of goods to possess, namely, a place in the natural law. He reduces private property to a position in the positive law, saying that it is simply a human invention in addition to the community of goods (modern day communism, in essence). Communism, according to Thomas Aquinas, is unalterable, natural law.

Now that we know what Aquinas’ base premise is, let’s take a quick look at an extremely interesting conclusion he is able to reach when deducing from that premise.

Things which are of human right cannot derogate from natural right or divine right… The division and appropriation of things which are based on human law do not preclude the fact that man’s needs have to be remedied by means of these very things. Hence, whatever certain people have in superabundance is due, by natural law, to the purpose of succoring the poor.” (Summa Theologiae, ii-ii, article 7)

So we essentially have the classic Robin Hood idea of taking from the rich and giving to the poor. According to Thomas, one person can take money or food or whatever they are lacking from their neighbor who is wealthier than they. As a matter of fact, he doesn’t even preclude theft and robbery as a means to this end of taking from a richer fellow citizen:

“…It is lawful for a man to succor his own need by means of another’s property by taking it either openly or secretly; nor is this, properly speaking, theft and robbery…. It is not theft, properly speaking, to take secretly and use another’s property in case of extreme need; because that which he takes for the support of his life becomes his own property by reason of that need…. In a case of a like need a man may also take secretly another’s property in order to succor his neighbor in need.” (Summa Theologiae, ii-ii, article 7)

I hope that if none of you reading this pay attention to anything else I’ve said, you will at least read this astonishing paragraph twice over. Aquinas bluntly states that it is perfectly permissible for one man to steal from another man if he needs something. Do you know how corrupt and horrible a society would become if everyone followed that tenet? Having a police force would be entirely pointless for one thing. I wonder though, why did Aquinas even bother to suggest that someone steal in secret? If it’s perfectly okay and lawful, a man shouldn’t have to be secretive about his stealing, should he?

Although poverty and need are unfortunate when they descend on people, they do not in any way warrant theft. If God thought there should be any exceptions to his commandment “Thou shalt not steal,” then He would have told us what that exception was in His Holy Word. However, since He did write down any such exception, no man is free to institute such an exception by means of his own opinions and thoughts while at the same time claiming to be a Christian and believing the Word of God. The two are completely incompatible. Thomas Aquinas went too far in his ideas about socialism when he began to leave Scriptural bounds.

Keep this in mind as well, because it’s the whole reason America became great: A society that is based in capitalism gives its working citizens, merchants, and businessmen the opportunity to pursue their own interests and also have competition between private enterprises. This gives a person a very real reason to further himself in his chosen vocation, seeking to be the best at what he does and thus getting competitive pay. So his employer rewards his hard work with higher pay in return for high quality work. At the end of the day, both employer and employee are winning and happy people. This setting will result in a very successful economy every time.

If that same person were merely working for the community of goods, he really has no motivation to work hard. After all, what he produces at the end of the day will simply be divided evenly among everyone in the society he is unfortunate enough to be a part of. (Either that or it will be stolen from him by one of Aquinas’ justified thieves.) He could work twice as hard as the man next to him, and yet would receive no more produce for his extra effort. So why should he work hard? There’s simply no motivation. Such a society is just plain bad economics, and yet it is such a society that Thomas Aquinas advocates.

Well, I’m going to cut this short here and continue later as I make further progress into the book, but I hope this gave some of you something to digest for a little while! I’m certainly finding the subject fascinating… Thoughts?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Could Christ Have Sinned?

I know this isn’t exactly what ya’ll were expecting in terms of a topic at this blog, but I just remembered that I had wanted to post something about it and so here it is!

Anyway, I recently was talking with a friend and a very interesting topic came up that dealt with the compatibility or non-compatibility of Jesus’ sinless God-nature and his human nature. The question at hand was essentially whether or not Jesus could have yielded to temptation and actually committed a sin. This may sound blasphemous and/or completely pointless in nature, but nevertheless, once I’ve shown you the reasoning behind this question, I doubt whether any of you will condemn us for asking it of ourselves. :) So to start off, allow me to quote the passage of Scripture that first got me and him thinking about this:

Hebrews 2:16-18 reads, “For indeed He does not give aid to the angles, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

It’s the “in all things He had to be made like His brethren” in verse 17 that really stuck out at first. This phrase seems to infer that, upon becoming “in all things…like His brethren” Christ then had the ability or rather, the nature to commit sin. But, obviously, since Christ was a perfect, Godly being as well, he didn’t actually do any sinning during his time here on earth, but nevertheless the question is raised, Was is ever feasible for Him to have committed a sin? In other words, did He either simply successfully resist all temptations that came His way, or could He just not have sinned period? I personally found it confusing to even think that Jesus, who is by nature a completely perfect being, could even have the possibility of sinning ever present in his life on earth. It seemed like a blatant paradox to me while under, of course, the not-necessarily correct assumption that Christ couldn’t possibly possess the ability to commit a sin due to His pre-incarnate existence of complete perfection. And yet there had to be some logical explanation of Hebrews 2:17-18 since I know that there is no such thing as a biblical paradox.

So I continued reading and came to Hebrews 4:14-16 which says, “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

I call your attention to the latter part of verse 15 where is it clearly stated that although Christ was “in all points tempted as we are,” He was tempted without a speck of sin. So my question then was, How can somebody come to be in all points tempted as I am, and yet not have the option of possibly giving in to those temptations? As far I as I can see, there are only three decently conclusive answers to this question: (1) Either Hebrews 2:17-18 is wrong (not a particularly promising option due to the universally accepted inherency of the Scriptures), or (2) Jesus did actually have the ability to sin (a slightly possible, although apparently contradictory option), or (3) perhaps He had two natures: one human, and one divine (which is a perfectly possible option). Without selecting one of these choices, what other way is there to reconcile the statement, “in all things He had to be made like His brethren” and then not having the possibility of sinning?

Also, think about God’s plan as a whole for mankind through Christ’s Incarnation. I mean, if Christ had had the ability to say “yes” to any of the temptations which He encountered, God’s whole plan of redemption would have been rather seriously jeopardized. Christ couldn’t have sinned because it wasn’t God’s will for Him to do so. And just as importantly, although Christ felt the strong human want to give into temptations, there was no way, because of His Godly nature, that He could have ever given in. If He could, He wouldn’t and couldn’t be the God of the Bible or Second Person of the Trinity who must by very definition maintain a state of complete perfection.

On the whole, then, when Christ took upon himself the same attributes of a human man, it made it so his physical body went through all the normal temptations and even some extraordinarily difficult ones (Mark 1:12-13 also Matt. 4… Satan’s tempting of Christ in the desert), but I believe the God nature (for lack of a better reference) which was still present made it impossible for Him to actually commit a sin. Christ didn’t undergo a type of metamorphosis which completely changed him from fully God to fully man. He still retained his Godly nature here on earth as well (Matt. 3:13-17), and since God cannot sin by nature, it was impossible for Christ to do so even though he felt the same temptations we do. So it wasn’t like there was this small chance that He might give in and God’s whole plan for mankind would come crashing down or anything. It’s kind of weird thing to think about having two natures which are contrary to each other and yet enjoying a co-existence in one bodily form at the same time. As Calvin says in volume 22 of his Commentaries on the Bible under Hebrews 2:16, “And the Apostle speaks of nature, and intimates that Christ, clothed with flesh, was real man, so that there was unity of person in two natures.” Perhaps the human mind isn’t meant to fully grasp it… And maybe that’s the most likely answer to these questions. :) (As a side note, as I got into this whole topic, I realized how much it has to do with the Incarnation and one’s perspective on this issue actually has a lot to do with one’s outlook on the Incarnation… But that’s another topic for another day, I suppose. :)

So anyway, I thought it was kind of an interesting thing to think about...:) Anybody have any thoughts? Do you completely disagree with me, David? :)

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everybody! :)

Okay, so for those of you who are still actually stopping by here every, oh, two weeks on average, maybe you'll see this. :) Anyway, I've lately gotten into eschatology and studying the whole end times/millennium stuff. Quite interesting, really... Trying to find out exactly what I mean when I say "I'm an Amillennialist,” or, “I'm a Postmillennialist." At any rate, up till this point, I've been what you might call a nominal Amillennialist even though I had only the very basic knowledge of what that term (or any of the others, for that matter) really meant. Hence the present interest in eschatological issues... :)

Actually, it was Lindsey who really got me into it when she asked what Amillennialists believed since my profile says I lean towards that position. Since I had really no clue what to tell her, and since she said she was leaning towards Pre-millennialism (reading with a more literal interpretation of Revelation/Books of The Apocalypse) and I had no real understanding of what that was either, I, well, yeah... :)

So anyway, I've sort of been writing up a relatively short paper about it, and hope to post it sometime in the near future. :) I'll probably be putting up my next section on "The Law" before that, though, if I can JUST GET THE TIME TO GET IT EDITED! :) Basically, then, I do have plans for this blog even though it probably seems like I completely disappear at times. :)

Finally, out of pure curiosity, where do you all place yourselves eschatologically? Amill., Premill., Postmill., Historic Premill., Futurist...? I'd be interested in hearing a little background and reason for why you believe what you do, too, if any of you feel like spouting a little. :)

Oh yeah, and Lindsey, if you read this, when you said you were leaning towards a Premill. view, were you referring to Historic Premillennialism, or Dispensational Premillennialism (aka, Dispensationalism)?

Have a great day peoples! :)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Christian Man in Afghanistan Released!

Okay, to start this off, let me say that in my last post I was extremely upset and sort of typed that all out in a huff. I think I was too hard on muslims or at least wasn't very Christian in my reaction. Anyway, hope you all will forgive that moment of sporatic anger on my part...

So, read for yourselves!

An Afghan man who had faced the death penalty for converting from Islam Christianity has been released from prison after the case was dropped, the justice minister said Tuesday.

The announcement came after the United Nations said Abdul Rahman has appealed for asylum outside Afghanistan and that the world body was working to find a country willing to take him. Justice Minister Mohammed Sarwar Danish told The Associated Press that the 41-year-old was released from the high-security Policharki prison on the outskirts of Kabul late Monday. "We released him last night because the prosecutors told us to," he said. "His family was there when he was freed, but I don't know where he was taken."

Deputy Attorney General Mohammed Eshak Aloko told the AP that prosecutors had issued a letter calling for Rahman's release because "he was mentally unfit to stand trial." He also said he did not know where he was being held. He said Rahman may be sent overseas for medical treatment.

Hours earlier, hundreds of clerics, students and others chanting "Death to Christians!" marched through the northern Afghan Mazar-i-Sharif to protest the court's decision Sunday to dismiss the case. "Abdul Rahman must be killed. Islam demands it," said senior Cleric Faiez Mohammed, from the nearby northern city of Kunduz. "The Christian foreigners occupying Afghanistan are attacking our religion."

Several Muslim clerics have threatened to incite Afghans to kill Rahman if he is freed, saying that he is clearly guilty of apostasy and deserves to die.

The case set off an outcry in the United States and other nations that helped oust the hard-line Taliban regime in late 2001 and provide aid and military support for Afghan President Hamid Karzai. President Bush and others insisted Afghanistan protect personal beliefs.

U.N. spokesman Adrian Edwards said Rahman has asked for asylum "outside Afghanistan." "We expect this will be provided by one of the countries interested in a peaceful solution to this case," he said.

No country has yet offered asylum to Rahman, said an official familiar with the case who declined to be named because of its sensitivity.

Well, can't say as I too thrilled as to the means of his release, but at least he's been released at all. Mentally unfit... yeah right. Who's going to believe that? Oh well... I guess the greatest fear right now is that he may be killed by muslim clerics/enraged populace. I wouldn't be surprised if that happens, but I certainly hope he's able to get out of the country before it does. I doubt if he'll ever be able to live a public life in Afghanistan ever again unless he wants to risk being killed by fanatics.

Anyway, interesting to see where he'll go from here... Don't stop praying!

Friday, March 24, 2006

International Protests Fail: Afghan Man to Die

I am sick... Literally sick to my stomach that any human being, or any collaboration of human beings can be so cruel, idiotic, brainless as to even want to pull a man to "pieces so that there's nothing left." What a bloodthirsty bunch of murderers...

And what's the government's excuse for executing him? "The people are going to do it anyway, so we might as well save them the trouble and ourselves from a public uprising." That's essentially it. What a lousy excuse to sin. Other people are sinning, so we might as well do it to. Do you know what sort of place this world would be if we all had a mindset like that?


KABUL, Afghanistan -- Senior Muslim clerics demanded yesterday that an Afghan man on trial for converting from Islam to Christianity be executed, warning that if the government caves in to Western pressure and frees him, they will incite people to "pull him into pieces."

In an unusual move, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned President Hamid Karzai yesterday seeking a "favorable resolution" of the case of Abdul Rahman.

The 41-year-old former medical aid worker faces the death penalty under Afghanistan's Islamic laws for becoming a Christian. His trial has fired passions in this Muslim nation and highlighted a conflict of values between the West and Islam, which forbids those born as Muslims from converting to other religions.

"Rejecting Islam is insulting God. We will not allow God to be humiliated. This man must die," said cleric Abdul Raoulf, who is considered a moderate and was jailed three times for opposing the Taliban before the hard-line regime was ousted in 2001.

The trial, which began last week, has caused an international outcry. President Bush has said he is "deeply troubled" by the case and expects the country to "honor the universal principle of freedom."

Miss Rice's spokesman, Sean McCormack, said she told Mr. Karzai it is important for the Afghan people to know that freedom of religion is observed in their country. But in deference to the country's sovereignty, Miss Rice evidently did not demand specifically that the trial be halted and the defendant released. "This is clearly an Afghan decision," Mr. McCormack said. "They are a sovereign country."

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said yesterday after speaking with Mr. Karzai that the Christian convert will not face the death penalty, Agence France-Presse reported from Ottawa. "I phoned President Karzai personally yesterday to express our concern. He conveyed to me that we don't have to worry about any such eventual outcome," Mr. Harper told reporters.

Diplomats have said the Afghan government is searching for a way to drop the case. On Wednesday, authorities said Mr. Rahman is suspected of being mentally ill and would undergo psychological examinations to see whether he is fit to stand trial.

But three Sunni preachers and a Shi'ite one interviewed by the Associated Press in four of Kabul's most popular mosques said they do not think Mr. Rahman is insane. "He is not crazy. He went in front of the media and confessed to being a Christian," said Hamidullah, chief cleric at Haji Yacob Mosque. "The government is scared of the international community," he said. "But the people will kill him if he is freed."

Mr. Raoulf, who is a member of the country's main Islamic organization, the Afghan Ulama Council, agreed. "The government is playing games. The people will not be fooled. Cut off his head," he exclaimed, sitting in a courtyard outside Herati Mosque. "We will call on the people to pull him into pieces so there's nothing left." He said the only way for Mr. Rahman to survive would be for him to go into exile.

But Said Mirhossain Nasri, the top cleric at Hossainia Mosque, one of the largest Shi'ite places of worship in Kabul, said Mr. Rahman must not be allowed to leave the country. "If he is allowed to live in the West, then others will claim to be Christian so they can too," he said. "We must set an example. ... He must be hanged."

Afghanistan's constitution is based on Shariah law, which is interpreted by many Muslims to require that any Muslim who rejects Islam be sentenced to death.

Hamidullah warned that if the government frees Mr. Rahman, "there will be an uprising" like one against Soviet occupying forces in the 1980s. "The government will lose the support of the people," he said.

Muslims are hardly worthy to be called humans. They don't follow basic humanitarian laws (God's laws)! It's like a bunch of murderers who got together and formed a country. Now I realize that there are definitely good people in there, and are most likely others that God has chosen to come to Him, so I'm mainly referring to the moderate-radical muslim population. But still, how can anyone actually WANT to kill another person simply because of a difference in religious beliefs? Unbelievable, people! Unbelievable...

On the other hand, however, I must say that I can't help but notice two good things that will come from the death of this man. One is that he will be in Heaven and actually enjoying a better life than we are. We should be happy for him in a way since he's going to a perfect life.

Secondly, the whole world will see, as a result of his death for no logical reason, what animalistic people true muslims are. And maybe this will wake them up and shut their mouths every time they start to say "oh those poor muslim people we're killing over there..." And don't forget, the people who want to kill Mr. Rahman are considered moderate muslims. I can't even imagine what radical muslims would do!

At any rate, who knows, maybe God will cause something to happen that will still save the life of this man. So again, keep praying everybody!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Afghan Man Declared to be Possibly "Mad" by Prosecuters

Looks like President Bush is taking a stronger stand against the trial and execution of Mr. Abdul Rahman...

President Bush yesterday said he was "deeply" troubled by the trial in Afghanistan of a Christian who could face execution for converting from Islam and vowed to pressure the Afghan government on the matter. "It is deeply troubling that a country we helped liberate would hold a person to account because they chose a particular religion over another," Mr. Bush said.

Abdul Rahman could face the death penalty for rejecting Islam. He converted to Christianity 16 years ago while working for a Christian aid organization in Pakistan, but it just came to light recently during a custody battle over his two children.

While nations such as Italy and Germany lodged strong protests earlier this week against the trial, the U.S. State Department on Tuesday was more tepid, calling the case a matter for Afghan authorities.

Yesterday, Mr. Bush took a much firmer stance. "We have got influence in Afghanistan, and we are going to use it to remind them that there are universal values," he said.

It appeared yesterday that Afghanistan was looking for a way out of the international furor over the matter. The Associated Press, reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, quoted a prosecutor as saying Mr. Rahman may be mentally unfit for trial. "We think he could be mad. He is not a normal person. He doesn't talk like a normal person," said the prosecutor, Sarinwal Zamari, while the AP also quoted a religious adviser to President Hamid Karzai as saying that Mr. Rahman will have an exam and that if he is deemed unfit, the case against him would be dropped.

Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah on Tuesday said that he understood American concerns but that the matter was a legal one and the government "has nothing to do with it."

Prosecutors said the case against Mr. Rahman would be dropped if he converted back to Islam, but he has refused. The state-sponsored Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission has said Mr. Rahman violated Islamic law by converting to another religion and should be punished.

The trial has become a cause for Christians worldwide and for conservative groups in the United States, who demanded that the U.S. government intervene. "Americans have not given their lives so that Christians can be put to death," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, an American Muslim advocacy group, also joined the call for Mr. Rahman to be released. "Islam advocates both freedom of religion and freedom of conscience," the group said.

The trial could be a stumbling block for Mr. Bush, who is traveling across the U.S. arguing that freedom and democracy are universal values and modern civil societies can rise from formerly oppressed Middle Eastern nations.

He has talked about allowing nations to form democracies in their own style, and often points to Japan's development of a "Japanese-style democracy" after World War II as a model.

But an Afghanistan-style democracy that includes trials of Christian converts is unacceptable to Mr. Bush's supporters. "How can we congratulate ourselves for liberating Afghanistan from the rule of jihadists only to be ruled by radical Islamists who kill Christians?" Mr. Perkins said.

Speaking in Wheeling at a town-hall-style event yesterday, Mr. Bush raised the issue himself, saying he was "deeply troubled."

But a firefighter in the audience challenged Mr. Bush to go further and reminded him that hundreds of firefighters died in the September 11 attacks by al Qaeda, whose leader, Osama bin Laden, was based in Afghanistan with the permission of the ruling Taliban. "Do you have an army of sociologists to go over there and change that country, or are you hoping that in a couple decades that we can change the mind-set over there?" the firefighter asked.

"We can solve this problem by working closely with the government that we've got contacts with -- and will," Mr. Bush said. "We'll deal with this issue diplomatically and remind people that there is something as universal as being able to choose religion."

Is it just me or is anyone else totally creeped out that the Afghan prosecuters for this trial are suddenly claiming that Mr. Rahman is crazy and therefor unfit for trial? When did that ever stop them?! They're just trying to find a way to appease the Western powers without loosing face and "breaking" their own laws which say this man should be executed. Gag me with a fork people! He's no more crazy than they are, but even if he was, they would still kill him without any prick of conscience. Men who can slaughter women and children shouldn't have much of a problem killing a man who is "crazy". That just completely disgusts me...

I kind of feel for the Afghan government right now, though. I think they know that the right thing to do would be to give in to the foreign protests, but they also know that if Mr. Rahman doesn't die, many of the radical muslims in Afghanistan with completely freak out. It would be a huge internal mess. But I still think they should intervene and keep Mr. Rahman from being executed.

Anyway, I'm glad President Bush took a stronger stance for saving the life of this brave Christian man. Keep praying!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Christian Man in Afghanistan Faces Death for His Faith

Read for yourselves this latest bit about Abdul Rahman...

The Bush administration yesterday appealed to Afghanistan to spare the life of a man facing the death penalty for converting to Christianity, but said the matter was one for the Afghan government and courts to decide.

In a case that has sparked international outrage, the remarks of Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns were in sharp contrast to condemnations of the trial by lawmakers and by leading European allies.
Briefing reporters with Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah at his side, Mr. Burns said the U.S. government was watching the case of Abdul Rahman closely, but added, "This case is not in the competence of the United States government. It's under the competence of the Afghan authorities."

But the governments of Germany and Italy, which -- like the United States -- have substantial troop deployments in Afghanistan, lodged strong protests at the prospect of Mr. Rahman's execution, with former Italian President Francesco Cossiga saying Italy should withdraw its 1,775 troops in Afghanistan if the death sentence is handed down.

The Italian Foreign Ministry said Rome will move "at the highest level ... to prevent something which is incompatible with the defense of human rights and fundamental freedoms."

California Rep. Tom Lantos, the ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, demanded a strong official U.S. protest, calling the Rahman prosecution "outrageous" at a time when an international coalition of troops "are dying in defense of the Afghan government."

At least two prominent conservative religious groups issued online messages that appealed to the Bush administration to help save the life of a man "who refuses to deny Christ."

The American Family Association's founder and chairman, Donald Wildmon, asked readers to e-mail President Bush asking him to intervene.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, took issue with a statement by State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, who called freedom of worship "an important element of any democracy." "Religious freedom is not just 'an important element' of democracy; it is its cornerstone," Mr. Perkins declared.

A Kabul court confirmed Sunday that Mr. Rahman, 41, was facing a death sentence under Islamic Shariah law for converting to Christianity. The conversion, which happened 16 years ago when Mr. Rahman was employed by a Christian aid organization in Pakistan, came to light during a custody battle over his two children.

The case is a delicate one for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, whose government remains highly dependent on Western aid and arms. But Afghanistan is overwhelmingly Muslim, and the ousted Taliban government, a fundamentalist Islamic movement, could exploit the case if the charge against Mr. Rahman is dropped. Mr. Abdullah, in Washington this week for talks on deepening strategic and economic ties with the United States, said, "I know this is a sensitive issue, and we know the concerns of the American people."

He said the Afghan Embassy had received hundreds of messages about the case. But he insisted that the case was a legal one involving Mr. Rahman and his family. "The government of Afghanistan has nothing to do with it," he said.

Afghanistan's constitution is based on Islamic Shariah law, which many argue forbids Muslims to convert to any other faith. The Afghan judiciary is considered a bastion of conservative orthodoxy, largely unreformed despite the ouster of the Taliban more than four years ago.

Prosecutor Abdul Wasi told the Associated Press that the capital case against Mr. Rahman would be dropped -- if the defendant would convert back to Islam. "We are Muslims, and becoming a Christian is against our laws," Mr. Wasi said. "He must get the death penalty."

Mr. Burns and State Department officials were clearly struggling to condemn the prosecution without causing a major break with a vital U.S. ally. Mr. Burns said the administration would demand "transparency" in the trial and noted that Afghanistan's constitution guarantees freedom of religion for all citizens.

"While we understand the complexity of the case and certainly respect the sovereignty of the Afghan authorities, from an American point of view, people should be free to choose their religion and should not suffer any severe penalties, certainly not death, for having made a personal choice as to what religion to follow," he said.

Wow. We don't know what it's like to have to face death for what we believe. We should definitely keep this good, solid Christian man in our prayers as his case unfolds.

I think President Bush and the other leaders of the coalition forces in Afghanistan did the right thing. Here's the logic: Afghan leaders are trying to deny the right to life of one man who has done nothing wrong while protective coalition forces are dying in the defense of the Afghan people. Am I the only one who misses the logic here? I really hope enough of an outcry has been made to save the life of this brave Afghan man.

Normally I would be against the US or any other nation trying to get involved in another country's private affairs, whether they be right or wrong. It's none of our business how other countries choose to rule. In this case, however, with our own men over there protecting Afghans from the very thing they are trying to do to this man, I believe we and other countries who have forces in Afghanistan have some right to speak out against it.

Anyway, keep this man in your prayers everybody!

Here's some other people covering this as well:
King's Highway
Boy Scout Blogger
Mercy Now

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Law: Part I

Well, for starters, I’m terribly sorry it’s been a few weeks since my last update… Just keep in mind that it’s my blogging motto not to just post for the sake of posting. I need to have something worthwhile to say if I’m going to post at all. Oh, and by the way, ORANGE ROCKS! :)

Given that premise, today’s “worthwhile subject” is actually sort of a book review/informal essay on law—what it is, why it is needed, and what it protects against in terms of malevolent behavior. But I also want to talk a bit about how under the protection of law, immoral and inhumane establishments have been instituted by the lawmakers. Hope this is of at least some interest to ya’ll!

Okay, I mentioned that this is also like a book review in a sense… The book is an amazingly excellent little treatise mainly about how socialism inevitably leads to complete communism. Now, maybe you’re thinking right now that, “What does that have to do with law?” Well, as it turns out, it has a great deal to do with it. In fact, the unavoidable demise of socialism/communism has so much to do with law, that this book is indeed entitled “The Law.” It was written, surprisingly, some short time before 1850 which was the year that it was first published. The genius behind the authoring of it appeared in the form a man named Frederic Bastiat—a Frenchman who lived through the “glorious” revolution of France and tried desperately to stop his country’s plunge into the socialistic structure of government and culture. Sadly, he had a short life of only 49 years which ended the same year that this book was published.

Well, now that you’ve got a little background, allow me to begin. :)

First of all, what is law? How should it be defined? It is, as Bastiat puts it, “The collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.” He goes on to say that every man has the God-given right to protect the three most important qualities of life: a person’s faculties, his liberty, and his property. These basic elements are inseparable. To preserve one is to preserve them all. “For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties?

Now, it is based upon this premise above that the law was initially established by men. After all, if one man has as much of a right as another man to protect these three possessons, then it is perfectly permissible that a corporate system be formed to protect these rights.

But, as Mr. Bastiat goes on to say, the law certainly does not fail to surpass it’s proper limitations; limitations which would keep it doing only that which it was founded for. Namely, protecting the rights of those who formed it. Historically however, it always ends up giving “legal” protection for acts which go completely against it’s foundations truths and purposes. How does this happen and what are the results? Law becomes distorted into an indistinct mess of good and bad rules by two main evils of mankind: greed and false philanthropy.

Man is forever trying to find ways to gain the most advantage with the least effort. This means that the means by which he makes any gain at all is often by the sweat of another man’s brow. Monopolies, dishonesty in trade, slavery, and wars all result from some man or some men whose greed pushes them to squeeze the greatest from other with the least amount of effort.

So what’s the easiest way dishonestly take the most at another man’s expense (in terms of labor and pain)? Make the taking legal, of course. If someone can legalize stealing, who would work? We would all just go to someone’s house and take whatever we want and they would do the same to us. Society and culture would go down the drain if that happened, no? Obviously, this was an example. Nothing quite so drastic has ever really been done, but nevertheless, lawful plunder is, even now, pervading countries around the world. Income tax, property tax, product tax, these are synonymous with stealing when the money is used for purposes beyond the protection of property, liberty, and human faculties. And it is particularly evil when it is used to promote immoral practices that go against the conscience of the tax payer. All it is is a nice way to say the bitter truth, that’s all.

Now, man naturally is inclined to go to great measures to avoid pain, right? And since pain is equal to labor, men will always resort to stealing whenever it is easier and less painful than work. Obviously, then, it becomes apparent that the law’s true purpose is always to make stealing painful and thus eliminating the mass plunder factor inevitable in any society where physical means are crucially necessary for even just basic existence (and since this defines every single society on earth, heaven is the only place where prevent of evil by means of law will be unnecessary).

Unfortunately, there is only ever one man or a group of men who tend to the laws and make new ones. And since man’s natural desire is for gain without pain, a corrupt corporation of men is hardly avoidable at some point in a country’s history. This group of men can easily make legal the act of stealing and initiate harmless sounding programs such as the “graduated income tax” which started so small that no-one could feel it. Now, however, there is such a thing as a 60% overall tax bracket for a single income. 60% people! So now what started as something to stop the act of stealing and other lawlessness has become its own invincible enemy. Justified stealing can hardly be fought by the common man when it comes in the form of automatic exacting from a monthly paycheck. He can’t pull out a gun and tell it to leave his house. And if he refuses to pay (something which, in and of itself, would be quite hard to arrange), jail or worse stares him in the face.

And yet, even if all men unite to fight the commonly felt evil of legal plunder, then those who rebel to take over the tyrants then themselves suddenly feel the power of government and proceed to participate in the justified stealing they had just fought to destroy. Their excuse is that they are punishing the domineering class which had so recently plundered them. Greed and want of power will never cease to be a pervading problem in the world until the return of Christ, so the cycle has repeated itself many times.

What is a viable proposition of reform to address to this huge problem of legalizing crime? To restrict the law itself. If the law is, by law, restricted to exclusively protecting human rights and properties, what person, as Bastiat says, “would then argue much about the extent of the franchise?

I found Mr. Bastiat’s short remarks about the state of the USA (written in 1850, mind you) of particular interest and I will end part I of this topic with this quotation:

…Even in the United States, there are two issues-and only two-that have always endangered the public peace. What are these two issues? They are slavery and tariffs. These are the only two issues where, contrary to the general spirit of the republic of the United States, law has assumed the character of a plunderer. Slavery is a violation, by law, of liberty. The protective tariff is a violation, by law, of property. It is a most remarkable thing that this double legal crime-a sorrowful inheritance from the Old World-should be the only issue which can, and perhaps will, lead to the ruin of the Union.

I have to give it to this man that he had incredible vision. I mean, if you look at the state of affairs in the US today, exactly what he said would happen, has happened. That’s not to say that this still isn’t the best place to live when given a choice of nationality, but just look at the amount of graduated income tax Americans now have to pay! It’s insane!

I’ll just say something else really quick: I’ve heard many Christians say that, since Christ said that we are to “render unto Caesar that which is Caesars” we should pay our taxes without question. But have they stopped and thought about exactly what those taxes go toward? We are beyond rendering unto Caesar what is due him. We are now funding things which directly contradict the teachings of Christ. Is that something He would say to continue doing without question? Just take a look at our school system. Evolution, sex, and other abominations are rampant in today’s schools. And not only that, but these things are promoted and taught! It’s definitely something to think about.

Thoughts anybody? Don’t hesitate to bring up things you think I’m wrong on. I’m completely open to correction where I may (indeed, most likely) have failed in my deductions!

Signing off…

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Hi everybody... Hope this post finds you all in excellent health. :)

This is actually just a quicky to ask for everyone's prayer for me as I make the final preparations for and play in a concert this Friday... I'm technically not nervous in front of a crowd of people because whenever I perform I'm almost always either singing with a group of people or playing in a band/ensemble. But on Friday I've been invited by the winner of the guitar National Championship at Winfield (John Standefer) to play solo guitar at his personal winter concert as a guest artist. It's a really big deal for me and I'm really agitated about getting up on stage completely by myself. It's a great honor and I'm worried that I won't live up to it. But I am trying to trust the Lord and stay half calm about it. :)

Anyway, I would really appreciate everyone's prayers... Thanks so much!