Friday, April 20, 2018

Moral Agnosticism

I recently came across this excerpt from the fine book I read some years back and thought others might enjoy reading it.

Excerpt from “The Church Effeminate”
by John W. Robbins, pages 654-657, published by The Trinity Foundation

Now this is a very important matter. The lack of discernment in today's churches, the reluctance to make distinctions, the antipathy to rendering moral judgments — all of this means that proper distinctions are not being made and righteous judgments are not being rendered. It does not mean that distinctions and judgments are not being made at all. Insofar as anyone thinks at all, he must make distinctions and render judgments. Just as the irrationalist is fatally ignorant of the fact that he must use rationality to propound irrationalism, so the moral agnostic — the man who is opposed to making judgments — is fatally ignorant of the fact that he must make moral judgments in order to state his position. The judgment the moral agnostic unwittingly makes is this: “Judging others is wrong.” But the moral agnostic does not stop with that judgment; he eagerly adds another: “Those who judge others are wrong.” And in these two moral judgments we can see clearly the self-stultifying, self-contradictory nature of the notion that one ought not to make moral judgments. If those who judge others are wrong, as the moral agnostic asserts, then moral agnostics are wrong, for they judge those who make judgments. That is why the Bible neither condemns nor commends those who make no judgments — for there are no such people — but instead condemns those who make false judgments, who call good, evil, and evil, good:

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who put darkness for light, and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight.” (Isaiah 5:20-21)

By refusing to distinguish good from evil, right from wrong, true from false — that is, by attempting to abandon logic and rationality — a person merely succeeds in making evil judgments. He calls good, evil, and evil, good. It is the man who makes perverse judgments that the Bible condemns. Ironically, the most censorious men are those who condemn anyone who makes a moral judgment.

Scripture repeatedly commands Christians to “test,” to “try,” to “judge,” and to “prove” all things. For example, in 1 Thessalonians 5:21, Paul commands us to “test all things; hold fast what is good.” Isaiah commands us in these words:

And when they say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? To the Law and to the Testimony! If they do not speak according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:19-20)

John tells us, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1) And in his Gospel, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” (John 7:24) In Proverbs we are commanded: “Open you mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:9) Paul, giving instructions for church meetings, says, “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.” (1 Corinthians 14:29) Scripture commands us to be skeptical of everything except the written Word of God, and to judge all things by that Word. The Bereans were commended for testing even an apostle’s preaching by the written Word.

In all this, Christians are exercising their rationality. In his letters, Paul repeatedly makes moral judgments. For example, in Romans I Paul writes: “professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” In 1 Corinthians 5 he writes, “And you are puffed up.” In verses 11 through 13 he gives further instructions:

But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner – not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore, “put away from yourselves that wicked person.”

Here Paul’s command to judge – to distinguish and evaluate certain persons in the church as fornicators, covetous, idolaters, revilers, drunkards, and extortioners – is followed by a command to separate from such men. It is a command to exercise church discipline. But the moral agnostics in the churches, because they are opposed to rendering moral judgments, are opposed to discipline and to separation as well, a point to which we shall return shortly.

Paul continues his discussion of judging:

Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters [now]? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more [then], things that pertain to this life?” (1 Corinthians 6:2-3)

Here Paul expects Christians to judge; he demands that they judge. Paul himself calls men “foolish,” (Galatians 3:1) “dogs,” (Philippians 3:2) and “evil workers,” (Philippians 3:2) as well as “saints.”

But what is the motivation of the moral agnostic who urges us not to judge others and who condemns us for doing so? It is not benevolence or tolerance. One motivation is quite clear: The moral agnostic wants to escape judgment himself. He thinks that if no one is permitted to judge others, then he himself will escape judgment. Paul explains in Romans 1 that sinful men suppress the truth (which they know innately) in unrighteousness, for they do not like to retain God in their knowledge, because the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness. Men, “knowing the righteous judg­ment of God, that they who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” The proscription of moral judgment is a futile attempt by sinners to escape judgment. Paul says that moral agnosticism is futile, whether one condemns or approves the sinful practices of others:

Therefore, you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge, practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?” (Romans 2:1-3)

One motivation that lies behind moral agnosticism is the desire to escape the judgment of God for one’s own beloved sins. Its purpose is to allow the unrepentant sinner to escape uncondemned and unpun­ished. When a moral agnostic argues that we must not judge between good and evil, his advice, when followed, benefits only the evil and harms only the good. To refuse to judge righteous judgment is not neutrality or tolerance; it is an attack on the good and a sanction to the evil.

There is a related but slightly different motivation as well: Whenever a person makes a judgment, that judgment discloses his own values, his own standard, and opens him to judgment by others. If a man would not judge, the moral agnostic believes, then he would not reveal his own values, and he would escape the judgment of others in this way as well. The Bible's statement of the principle that in judging one discloses one's own values is found in the Gospel of Matthew:

“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the Day of Judgment. For by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:35-37)


Once again Scripture teaches that the moral agnostic cannot escape judgment by refusing to judge, for he cannot refuse to judge. Rational creatures must judge, and we will all be held accountable for the judg­ments we make, the words we speak, the thoughts we think. The moral agnostic condemns moral judgment because he hopes to avoid responsibility for his own sins. He does not want to be held accountable by God or by anyone else. He desires to be a law unto himself, a completely irresponsible, a completely lawless, being.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Plague-Abettors

This will be the first of my blog entries that I have not authored. The reason for posting someone else's work is three-fold: First, what follows illustrates the mainstream media's complicity in a great tragedy. Second, what follows is a catastrophe that most have become so used to as to ignore.  Third, real history is our friend and what follows is a report from a writer who was there, David Horowitz, in his book "The Black Book of the American Left" Volume V: Culture Wars, pages 221-226:

 The Plague-Abettors

        As countless news stories, articles and editorials have reminded us, this is the 20th anniversary of the onset of the AIDS epidemic in America. It is a grim anniversary. More than 450000 Americans, mostly young, are dead. After years of so-called public education efforts, and billions of dollars in AIDS-related government programs, the infection rates for new HIV cases are rising back to their peak 1980s levels. The new infection rates are highest among blacks and Hispanics, who now make up more than half the dead but who were hardly affected in the first years of the epidemic. In those years, when the number of infections was small, and effective public-health methods might have contained their spread, more than 90 percent of those affected were white homosexuals living in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, intravenous drug users in the same locations and a tiny cohort of hemophiliacs and immigrants from Haiti.
On this anniversary, you will read many stories about the medical research on AIDS which, however remarkable in itself, has failed to produce an effective vaccine, let alone a cure for the disease. This failure was predicted at the very outset of the epidemic, a fact I wrote about at the time. The leading experts on the AIDS virus warned then that the only way to stem the tide of the epidemic was through proven public health methods. You will read many stories about the heroic efforts of activists in the gay community to lobby the government for more AIDS money, and to care for the sick and dying.[1] None of these efforts should be confused with public­health methods, which were the only means of containing the epidemic.
What you will not read is a single story about those methods, or how epidemics were combated-often successfully-for a hundred years before gay activists inserted their views into public health policy. What you will not read is how the proven public-health methods were opposed by AIDS activists, and how public health officials surrendered to the activists’ demands for veto control over what methods were acceptable and what were not; in other words, how they colluded in subverting the system that had proved so successful in combating public health threats in the past.
What you will not read is any evaluation of the government-financed AIDS campaigns-mainly in public “education”-that the activists demanded in place of the proven methods. Yet the harrowing figures released on this anniversary show these politically correct billion-dollar education campaigns have failed to contain the epidemic or to prevent it from spreading into other communities, particularly the African-American and Hispanic communities.
As a result of the obstruction of testing, reporting, contact tracing and infection-site closing by gay leaders and their allies in the Democratic Party that controlled the major urban centers, public health officials were unable to warn the specifically gay communities in the path of the epidemic. In fact, because there were politically inspired bans on testing, reporting and contact tracing, they were not able to find out what that path was. As a result, while by the end of the first decade of AIDS Hispanics were 14 percent of those infected and blacks 26 percent, a decade later Hispanics were 19 percent of those infected and blacks an astounding 45 percent.
What you will not read in the 20th-anniversary coverage of the epidemic is any story pointing out that today-as we move into the third decade of the epidemic with infection rates rising and the death toll climbing-the subverted public-health system still does not require reporting of individual cases, testing of at-risk communities, contact tracing to warn individuals of possible infection or the closing of sex clubs and other potential sites of infection.
Thus, in addition to being a grim anniversary from the vantage of the dead and those who loved them, this is a disheartening occasion for those of us who have watched in disbelief the criminally ineffectual efforts that have been deployed in the name of political correctness, and have tried in vain to draw attention to a dereliction that has caused so many needless deaths. This anniversary also makes it clear that, as a nation, we have learned nothing from the follies of the past, and are headed into the next decade still prisoners of orchestrated ignorance and still relying on the remedies that failed.
Typical of the media reports on this anniversary is the lead story in the health section of the Los Angeles Times, written by “health writer” Linda Marsa, which rehashes the party line on AIDS and thus conveys information that is brazenly ignorant and entirely false. In perfect self-parody, the article is titled “A Legacy of Change”:

It was a sheer accident that AIDS first struck a relatively cohesive group: young homosexuals in cities such as New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, many of whom had honed their organizational and political skills during the gay rights movements of the 1970s. This was extraordinary: Terminal illnesses don’t discriminate, hitting rich and poor alike without regard to ethnicity, geography or sexual orientation.

In fact, the AIDS epidemic is more accurately described as a product of the gay rights movement of the 1970s, inevitably concentrated in the very centers of gay life in America-San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles-and impossible to conceive without the presence and agitations of the radical gay movements that directly preceded it. It was the gay left that defined promiscuous anal sex with strangers in public  environments-the  primary cause of the AIDS epidemic-as “gay liberation.”
It was the gay liberation movement that thought nothing of the massive epidemics of amoebiasis, rectal gonorrhea, syphilis and hepatitis B that swept through gay communities in the decades preceding AIDS, producing astronomical infection rates and depleted immune systems in the process. It was the gay movement that regarded any intrusion by public health authorities to close the public sexual gymnasia called “bathhouses” as a threat to gay liberation, both before and after the onset of AIDS. It was the gay left that successfully prevented the reporting, testing, contact tracing and other public health methods that had been proven effective in combating epidemic diseases in the past. It was the gay left that blocked government prevention programs from targeting at-risk communities, using the same lie as the Times writer, that “AIDS is an equal opportunity disease;” and it was the gay left that persuaded government officials instead to put all the anti­AIDS eggs in the basket of incredibly expensive and-as everyone can now see-completely ineffective “education” campaigns. These campaigns were ineffective because, out of considerations of political correctness, they did not specify anal sex as the primary sexual transmission route and were addressed not to those who were specifically at risk, but to “everyone,” and thus in effect to no one.
The late Michael Callen, creator of the organization People With AIDS and a pioneer of candor in the midst of these lies, described how he had come to New York as a young man from the sticks and heard gay radicals like the writer Edmund White address audiences in the gay community on the subject of sexual liberation. White told one such audience including Callen that “gay men should wear their sexually transmitted diseases like red badges of courage in a war against a sex-negative society.”[2] The ever-courageous Camille Paglia pointed out some years ago the obvious truth: “Everyone who preached free love in the Sixties is responsible for AIDS. This idea that it was somehow an accident, a microbe that sort of fell from heaven-absurd. We must face what we did.”
Callen explained exactly what that meant. “Some of us believed we could change the world through sexual liberation and that we were taking part in a noble experiment. Unfortunately, as a function of a microbiological ... certainty, this level of sexual activity resulted in concurrent epidemics of syphilis, gonorrhea, hepatitis, amoebiasis, venereal warts and, we discovered too late, other pathogens. Unwittingly, and with the best of revolutionary intentions, a small subset of gay men managed to create disease settings equivalent to those of poor Third World nations in one of the richest nations on earth.”
It was a tragedy that those who pioneered the cause of gay rights should have been swept up in a radical illusion that they could also change the world, including the laws of nature. But that is what happened. This left successfully demanded political control of the battle against AIDS, which sabotaged it from the start, and has been directly responsible for the killing fields left in its wake. This includes especially the spread of AIDS into the black and Hispanic communities, which could have been prevented if traditional public health methods had been aggressively deployed. The Hispanic and black communities are for the most part separated from the gay communities where the epidemic first took hold. If there had been testing and tracing of those infected, and focused warnings to those in their path, who knows how many lives could have been saved?
I offer these observations with no hope that they will have an effect. I have written about this radical holocaust for nearly the entire duration of the epidemic. Many others have since raised their voices as well. Michael Fumento’s The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS, and Gabriel Rotello’s Sexual Ecology are two of the books that have made the case for ending the political obstruction of the war against AIDS and for a more scientifically sound approach. Early ACT-UP radicals like Larry Kramer, Michelangelo Signorile and Rotella have had second thoughts about their former attitudes, faced what they did, and tried to turn the tide. But to no avail.
The chief obstacle to any change in this tragic story lies with the media. AIDS is without question the worst-reported story in the history of American journalism. From the press coverage of this anniversary, no one can take any hope that the next 10 years will show any improvement in the mortality statistics, unless there is a medical breakthrough. Without accurate information about this politically induced nightmare, there is no chance that the American public will wake up and finally decide that enough is enough.

June 11, 2001, http://www.salon.com/2001/06/11/aids_9/; http://www.salon.com/news/col/horo/2001/06/11/aids/indel.html


[1] http://salon.com/2001/05/01/aids_8/
[2] Charles Silverstein and Edmund White, The Joy of Gay Sex, Outlet Books, 1977

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Slain By The Evidence

     As part of my morning devotional reading, I like to work my way through different kinds of devotional material. One of the books I am reading at a very leisurely pace was written by David Limbaugh, the brother of the well-known talk show host Rush Limbaugh, and a practicing attorney. The book is interesting. The title is Jesus On Trial: A Lawyer Affirms The Truth Of The Gospel.
     I thought I might pass along an offering from this morning's helping:


SLAIN BY THE EVIDENCE
Some particularly intelligent people use their God-given intellect to argue against the existence of their Maker. Two men in eighteenth­ century England set out to do just that. Lord Lyttelton and Gilbert West were lawyers and committed nonbelievers. One day one of them said to the other, "Christianity stands upon a very unstable foundation. There are only two things that actually support it: the alleged resurrection of Jesus Christ and the alleged conversion of Saul of Tarsus. If we can disprove those stories, which should be rather easy to do, Christianity will collapse like a house of cards." Gilbert West agreed to write a book on the "alleged resurrection of Jesus Christ and disprove it." Lord Lyttelton vowed, in turn, to write a book to refute Saul's conversion.
Sometime later they met again and one of them told the other, "I'm afraid I have a confession to make. I have been looking into the evidence for this story, and I have begun to think that maybe there is something to it after all." The other said, "The same thing has happened to me. But let's keep on investigating these stories and see where we come out." By the time they had completed their books they had become believers, and their tomes, West's The Resurrection of Jesus Christ and Lyttelton's The Conversion of St. Paul, reflected their newfound, evidence-based beliefs.
Sometimes when we are certain we are on our own, completely independent, utterly self-sufficient, and without need of a savior, God actively intervenes with a gracious and timely lesson in humility. We sometimes fail to appreciate that our God is an infinitely loving God, Who pursues us not for His benefit, but for ours. Whether off the coast of Thailand with Vietcong sailors, on the road to Egypt with treacherous brothers, or wandering in the wilderness just outside the Promised Land, God can find us.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Conference Speakers Schedules

     I have always wondered why a pastor who hosts a conference would announce the slate of speakers who have accepted invitations to preach but will not inform those considering attending who will speak when. If there is a lady speaking to ladies such an announcement is made. If there is someone speaking to young people such an announcement is made. However, with a slate of speakers who will preach to preachers and others in attendance such information is typically withheld, at least among Independent Baptists.
     I have always wondered at the logic of such thinking. Decades ago I attended several huge annual conferences hosted by a very big church, with female speakers and times announced, and with youth speakers and times announced, but no information was released concerning who would preach to the pastors and church members in attendance. Be there at 7:00 PM, but you will not be told who the speaker is.
     I have even called host churches at large conferences held in the upper Midwest and on the West coast to ask if the schedule for the conference has been set. When informed that it has been set, I have asked who of those invited will preach when. I have always been told that information is not available. When I ask why it is not available I have never been given an answer.
     Why, I wonder, is such information available to the women attending the women's session and the young people attending the youth session, but is withheld from the men (including pastors) attending the plenary sessions? In what other setting are people invited to attend a conference and are told the place and times of the conference, but are not told the times when speakers are scheduled?
     I wonder about the Baptist distinctives that I so heartily embrace, not the least of which is soul liberty. Am I not responsible to God for my spiritual condition and the choices I make? Or am I so incompetent that I need to be dealt with in a paternal and condescending way?
     Don't get me wrong. I don't lose sleep over this issue. However, I do occasionally miss out on a speaker I would enjoy hearing but for my unwillingness to sit through someone who I am not wiling to invest my time to hear.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Revisiting Oprah's Golden Globes Comments

     I just listened to Oprah's speech from the Golden Globes again. I did not watch the Golden Globes but did hear snippets of her comments later on the local news channel and have something I would like to express.
     She was impeccably dressed. Her presentation was what one might expect of a professional who has enjoyed great success in front of a television camera. She is a masterful communicator.
     But what did she actually say? Her obvious political mantra as she tests the waters for a presidential run will be something along the line of "There is a new day." You have to have a catchy phrase to run for president.
     However, I have some questions.
     What will this person who persuaded the country to vote for Barack Obama do differently than he did?
     Will she divide us as certainly as President Obama divided us?
     And what was the point of her comments made to a room full of people who are either themselves Harvey Weinstein wannabes or women who enabled Harvey Weinstein to get away with what he did to so many women for so many years?
     After all, everyone in the room knew what Harvey was doing with those women, including Oprah. Yet she and they did nothing.
     It will be interesting to watch things develop, not from the perspective of how good was her speech (the serpent in the Garden was a good speaker, Adolf Hitler was a good speaker, and V. I. Lenin was a good speaker), but from the perspective of how her leftist, pro-abortion, George Soros friendly, New Age religion, socialist agenda affects the country.

God's Word Was Not Given To You, You Were Given To God's Word!

     Sometimes Christians are not careful enough in our study of God's Word, causing us to sometimes miss important gems of profound truth. Such is the case in Romans 6.17, where Paul writes in the last half of the verse, “...but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.”
     The wording here is a little rough for most of us to easily understand with caution, but attention to two phrases will greatly clarify what Paul is saying. When he refers to obeying from the heart, he is contrasting in the minds of his Roman Christian readers the difference between someone who is depending upon Christ for his salvation and someone who is depending upon the Law of Moses to give him standing before God.
     Later on, in Romans Paul will point out that “with the heart, man believeth unto righteousness.” Paul’s Jewish opponents were depending on mental and intellectual responses to the dictates of the Law to merit salvation, not a genuine relationship with the Savior, which is an issue of the heart. So, Paul’s Gospel is superior to the Law in that while it is certainly not anti-intellectual, it is not only intellectual. 
     Paul’s Gospel has to do with the entire being of the believer, not just your intellect and not just your will. What are the implications of this reality? There are two: 
     First, you are not a Christian just because you decided to become a believer. Remember, the miracle of the new birth has to take place for someone to be born again, and no one tells God when to work a miracle. 
     Second, you are not a believer just because you embrace as true the facts of the Gospel. Remember again, the miracle of the new birth has to take place. 
     That said, the Jewish person might still see salvation apart from the Law as opening up the opportunity for lawlessness. He would think that no longer being under the Law meant no structure, no guidelines, and no direction in the Christian life. That would be spiritual anarchy! And no doubt he would liken salvation by grace apart from the Law to the only other situation he had ever seen in his life without the Law . . . the Gentiles. And what sinfulness they exhibited. 
     The next phrase has to do with “that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” Pick up a commentary and you will see a great deal of discussion about this phrase. If it’s a good commentary, that is. Let me summarize what Paul is trying to get across to his readers at this point. 
     Though the word order is somewhat difficult to follow, Paul is pointing out to his readers that no sinner come to Christ has been left without guidance and direction after having come to know Christ and not being under the Law. We who are come to Christ have been delivered to an authoritative body of truth which should guide our lives. 
     But note that our verse says believers were delivered to “that form of doctrine.” Notice. It was not that form of doctrine which was delivered to believers. God’s Word has not been given to us! We have been given to God’s Word, so that we might conform to it as Jell-O to a mold, conforming us to the image of Christ.
     This speaks to a serious problem among Christians today. So many professing believers do not understand that God’s Word has authority over them and that we have been delivered to Scripture so that we will be conformed by God’s Word to Jesus Christ.