Thursday, June 23, 2011

Liberty for Marijuana

Jihad Watch and the Drudge Report have recently reported that Newark International Airport has finally seen the light and begun profiling. As Israel has known for decades, it just isn't possible to look for bombs and weapons in all of those bags - the bags all look alike. Israel knows what everyone should be paying attention to, it's easier and more effective to look for terrorists than to look for bombs. And so Newark has begun profiling...wait for it...wait for it...Mexicans.

Now I know you're asking, "Are Mexicans the new crest of terrorism?" Is a Mexican going to blow himself up in a busy shopping mall while screaming, "Dios es grande!"? No, not at all. We're still safe from the Mexicans [sign at protest on illegal immigrant crackdown "We didn't bomb the World Trade Center - We built the World Trade Center"]. TSA isn't looking for terrorists, they're looking for drugs.

Of course the first question that you might ask yourself is "Why aren't they profiling Arab men between 16 and 36?" Good question. TSA, in part of its insane sets of regulations, allegedly even has standards which forbid screeners from pulling more than two Muslims out of line for secondary screening (which would mean that half of the 9/11 hijackers would have gotten through). But the really sobering question is this, "Is the drug war important enough to you that you are willing to give p your liberty?"

Remember, we conceded to this whole mess of invasive practices to keep 9/11 from happening again. While I oppose drug legalization, would you really give up your liberty to stop someone from doing a line of coke or smoking some pot.

Read it all here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Presbyterians Take Action Against Islamic-Christian Syncretism

The Presbyterian Church in America, the largest evangelical Presbyterian denomination in the US took action last week against the "Insider Movement," a missions trend which encourages Muslims to "love Jesus" and "be good Muslims." While there was debate on how far to go in investigating the heresy, there was little hesitation in condemning the movement in principle and condemning Bible translations which remove references to God as "Father" and Jesus as "Son." The denomination adopted a resolution condemning the Insider Movement and erected a study committee to investigate exactly what is happening in the mission field.

A pastor involved with passing the resolution blogged extensively on the subject here. His short explanation of the Insider Movement from an evangelical perspective is here. Below is the text of the resolution (italics are mine):

A Call To Faithful Witness

Approved By The 39th General Assembly
Of The Presbyterian Church In America
June 10, 2011

Whereas; the Church is called to take the gospel to all peoples, including those who have historically been resistant to the gospel;

Whereas; contextualizing the language and forms of the gospel, while remaining faithful to the truths of Scripture, is good and necessary for the advancement of the gospel;

Whereas; the Church must exercise wisdom in discerning appropriate expressions of contextualization, reserving its public corrections for genuine and substantive threats to the gospel;

Whereas; in recent initiatives known as “Insider Movements”, some groups have produced Bible translations that have replaced references to Jesus as “Son” (huios) with terms such as “Messiah” in order to be more acceptable to Muslims;

Whereas; some Bible translations of Insider Movements have replaced references to God as “Father” (pater) with terms such as “Guardian” and “Lord”;

Whereas; these Bible translations are harmful to the doctrines of the authority of Scripture and the deity of Christ, bringing confusion to people in need of Christ—concerns that are held by many national leaders and Bible societies;

Whereas; some PCA churches have knowingly or unknowingly financially supported these Bible translations;

Whereas; Muslims should not be denied a full and faithful witness;

Therefore be it resolved that the 39th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America:

• Affirms that biblical motivations of all those who seek to share the good news of Jesus Christ with those who have never heard or responded to the gospel should be encouraged;

• Repents of complacency or comfort that keep us from a faithful witness;

Declares as unfaithful to God’s revealed Word, Insider Movement or any other translations of the Bible that remove from the text references to God as “Father” (pater) or Jesus as “Son” (huios), because such removals compromise doctrines of the Trinity, the person and work of Jesus Christ, and Scripture;

Encourages PCA congregations to assess whether the missionaries and agencies they support use or promote Bible translations that remove familial language in reference to persons of the Trinity, and if so, to pursue correction, and failing that, to withdraw their support;

• Encourages PCA congregations to support biblically sound and appropriately contextualized efforts to see Christ’s Church established among resistant peoples;

• Calls PCA churches and agencies to collaborate with each other and the broader Church to discern and implement biblical authority in gospel contextualization.

• Authorizes the Moderator, as an aid to greater gospel faithfulness throughout the PCA and the broader Church, to appoint a study committee to report to the 40th General Assembly concerning Insider Movements, including but not limited to:
o A summary and biblical assessment of Insider Movements’ history, philosophies, and practices;
o A biblical response to interpretations of Scripture used in defense of Insider Movements;
o An examination of the theological impact of removing familial language for the Trinity from Bible translations;
o An assessment of PCA missions partners regarding the influence of Insider Movement within them, including assessment of their theology of religion, ecclesiology, Scripture, and relationship to the Emergent Church;
o An explanation of the relevance and importance of this issue for the PCA;
o Suggestions for identifying and assessing the influence of Insider Movements among mission agencies, missionaries and organizations;
o Recommended resources for faithfully training and equipping congregations to reach Muslims locally and internationally.

• Set the budget for the study committee at $15,000/year and that funds be derived from gifts to the AC designated for that purpose.


The Committee is convinced this critical issue for the global church strikes at the vitals of religion. However, the lack of sufficient analytical, biblical, and theological resources from a Reformed perspective, compels us to ask for a study committee to produce a cogent report for our churches.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Golden Extra & Fetal Emotions

I thought I'd combine more things that don't belong together for this post (keeping with the tradition of the last post). Today it's pipe tobacco and the abortion controversy. These things go together because a pipe smoking man should be a thinking man. Pipe smoking by its nature gives us time to think, almost requires it. This means that a pipe smoking Christian should be a thinking Christian, one who takes seriously the Lord's injunction to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and MIND. Matthew 22:37

Since a fine tobacco is conducive to strong Christian thinking, we continue our search for the perfect tobaccos for godly rumination. Today, I'd like to review two: Mac Baren's "Golden Extra" and Savenelli's "English Mixture."

Golden Extra - This is another very highly rated and praised tobacco. It is a Burley tobacco, which is grown mainly in Kentucky, is air cured, and most commonly used for cigarettes. I have to say that I was a little disappointed in this blend, which is often described as "sweet."

Pros - The blend lights easily and burns well. I didn't have a problem keeping it lit. It didn't bite my tongue or start to taste bitter as I worked down through the bowl. The nicotine was about medium level, about the same as Irish Oak. It reminded me of a cigar, and not a cheap one.

Cons - It tasted like a cigar. I think the "room note," how it smells to others, was unpleasant. That being said, I didn't have the cigar taste in my mouth the next morning. I give this one 3/5 stars.

English Mixture - This is an English Blend, a type of tobacco which has no additives. This doesn't mean that it doesn't have flavor, but flavoring is achieved by adding smoky latakia and/or spicy oriental tobaccos. Many pipe smokers move from aromatic tobaccos (cherry, vanilla, bourbon, etc.) to English blends.

Pros - Nice taste, definitely has a strong dose of latakia. The nicotine content is not too strong and the tongue bite is not bad. A fair tasting tobacco. The room note seems pleasant enough.

Cons - There is a little bit of bitterness which seems to creep in as I worked through the bowl. Doesn't burn as well as some - more relighting. It's not Old Dublin. I give this one 4/5 stars.

I was responding to a fellow today who commented on a FB page by asking if science had proven that fetuses were "sentient" as a way of supporting abortion "rights." I'm not sure how we was defining the term "sentient," but a common way to use the term is in distinction to "thinking/reasoning." Humans are reasoning and sentient, animals are (mostly) non-reasoning and sentient. As the (current) writer for the Wikipedia article states, sentience is part of the argument for animal rights - we shouldn't torture things which can feel.

Abortion advocates wish to deny that unborn children have the capacity to feel that animals have. The great problem with such a position is that the age of fetal viability keeps getting pushed back further and further. Babies can survive before 23 weeks of gestation, a time at which many are aborted. If a baby can be born and survive, do we really wish to argue that the baby is less than an animal until it passes some point months later?

Well, there's always someone willing to make an argument for evil, and some doctors and researchers have done just that. Stuart Derbyshire, a senior lecturer in psychology has written a much cited paper claiming that fetuses cannot feel pain for several reasons. 1) The fetus cannot report pain, therefore we cannot assume that the fetus feels pain. 2) The fetus cannot talk, therefore it doetsn't have the ability to process pain cognitively. 3) A fetus cannot have experienced the data needed to develop the framework for objective thought to process pain.

I am summarizing his arguments and he couches it in all sorts of technical language. The basic argument is that since pre-born babies can't feel pain by definition, they can't feel pain. Since they can't tell us that they don't feel pain, they don't feel pain. Does this work for you? This kind of reasoning would give scientists the ethical permission to use a severely retarded person in unlimited medical experiments. Not that anyone has ever done that - oh no, wait...they have.