The telltale sign of fascism is the silencing of dissent. If you don’t agree with the fascists’ point of view, you will be de-platformed, cancelled, fired, imprisoned, or killed. Which side of the ideological aisle is engaging in fascism these days? Here’s a clue: It’s not the Right. While we haven’t seen the Left imprisoning or killing anyone in this country yet, given enough time, and given enough power, it will happen. It’s already happening in other countries, and we can see the same trajectory in our own.

Perhaps you have heard of the former Interior Minister of Finland, Päivi Räsänen, who is being charged for a hate crime because she publicly expressed her disapproval of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. She is facing up to two years in prison. Stories of people being arrested for expressing moral disapproval of homosex have been mounting over the years in Europe, Canada, and Australia. We are headed in the same direction if we keep electing the Left to positions of power because the Left is fascist at heart.

I am temporarily reviving an old series I did on hermeneutics called “straight outta context.” For this installment, I want to look at 1 Corinthians 3:10-17.

According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. 16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. (1 Cor 3:10-17)

I had always heard verses 10-15 used to exhort people to good works. As Christians, we need to make sure that we are doing works that will endure for eternity (gold, silver, precious stones) and for which we will receive a reward, rather than doing things that have no eternal value (wood, hay, stubble). However, in context, this is Paul’s warning to teachers to make sure that they are discipling God’s people correctly.

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Is abortion moral? It’s rather telling when one side of the moral debate wants to ignore the most important question – what is being killed? – and focus on the will of the mother instead. It’s equally telling when that same side invents a host of euphemisms to obfuscate the issue including “women’s health, reproductive rights, choice, and termination of pregnancy.” When people avoid the main issue and use euphemisms to hide the truth of their actions from the public, you can pretty much bet that those people are on the wrong side of that issue.

It’s obvious to anyone who reads the comment section of my posts that I do not interact with the comments very often. It’s not for lack of desire. In the past, I used to respond to virtually every comment. However, over the last 5 years, I have been working 70 hour weeks. For a while, I hardly posted anything. Lately, I’ve been able to write a bit more, but unfortunately, I can’t both write and interact with the comments. It’s one or the other, and since you can’t have comments without new posts, I focus my attention on generating new content.

That said, I had to fly recently, and I was able to read through many of the comments on the last 10 posts or so. I couldn’t respond to everything, but I did respond to some. If you’ve been waiting for my feedback, take a look at the comments section again. Feel free to respond to my responses, but just know that I probably won’t be able to reply back in return.

Those who won’t bend their knee to God typically won’t nod their head to truth either. By this, I mean that someone who is unwilling to acknowledge God’s authority over their life is not likely to acknowledge God’s truth either when that truth conflicts with their desire for self-autonomy.

So when we offer reasons and evidence for the truth of Christianity (an apologetic), and those reasons and that evidence are rejected by the unbeliever, it’s not necessarily because our reasons are bad or the evidence isn’t good (although, that’s not to say I haven’t heard bad arguments offered by Christians). It is simply the fact that the same will that is bent against God’s authority is also bent against God’s truth. If the unbeliever acknowledged God’s truth, they would also have to acknowledge that their continued rejection of God is based purely on their obstinate will. So instead, they reject that truth and continue to pretend that their rejection of God is based on intellectual merits. This is not a failure of apologetics, but a failure of the human will.

In John 20:21-22, during Jesus’ first resurrection appearance to the apostles, He said, “’Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.'” Did the apostles receive the Spirit at that moment, or did the fulfillment of Jesus’ words await the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4)?

Many interpreters have concluded that Jesus was speaking prophetically in John 20 of the future Pentecost experience. They do so, however, because they assume that both John and Acts refer to the same event. In the paper linked below, I argue that this assumption is mistaken. The authors of John and Acts are referring to two different works of the Spirit for two different purposes that occurred on two different occasions. In John 20, the apostles experienced the regeneration of the Spirit, whereas in Acts 2 the apostles experienced the empowerment of the Spirit that equipped them to be a witness for Jesus and His resurrection.

Did the Disciples Receive the Spirit in John 20:22?

Over the last year, the Left has popularized the phrase “systemic racism.” What exactly does this mean? It doesn’t mean racism is widespread throughout America, or even that there are some racist individuals within the power structures of various social systems. Rather, it means that the very systems of our society and government are rooted in racist ideology, and thus necessarily result in discrimination against non-whites. That’s why some of those who claim there is systemic racism are also calling for us to tear down these power structures and start anew. They don’t want to eliminate the racist people from the systems, but eliminate the systems themselves. The systems are deemed irredeemable.

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What are the main ideological differences between the “Left” and the “Right”?* Here is a handy chart detailing the primary differences. Please note that I am focusing on ideological differences as opposed to how those ideological differences translate into specific policy differences such as taxes or abortion.

Left Right
1. Progress beyond traditions 1. Conserve traditions
2. Views social outcomes in terms of power dynamics 2. Views social outcomes in terms of personal decisions
3. Sees people as groups 3. Sees people as individuals
4. Society is the source of evil 4. Individuals are the source of evil
5. Values equality of outcome 5. Values equality of opportunity
6. Values equality over liberty 6. Values liberty over equality
7. Believes life’s problems are best solved by bigger government 7. Believes life’s problems are best solved by the ingenuity of private citizens
8. Government’s role is to achieve and protect equality 8. Government’s role is to protect liberty
9. Idealist – Policy decisions based on what feels morally right 9. Pragmatic – Policy decisions based on what will result in the most good
10. Prefers a regulated market 10. Prefers a free market

11. The meaning of the law is malleable, and should be interpreted in light of the evolving needs of society

11. The meaning of the law is fixed, as determined by the words and the intent of those who wrote the law

12. Individualistic

12. Nationalistic

If you can think of any additional ideological differences, please share in the comments.

 

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* I realize that these categories are not exhaustive, and that people do not always fall neatly into one side or the other. As such, take this as a generalized, if not idealized categorization.

The more secular a society becomes, the more coercive it becomes. If there is no transcendent law-giver to guide the beliefs and behavior of the people, then the State will fill the void. If a society does not recognize a higher authority (a Law above the law), then the political will of the State becomes the ultimate good. Those who resist and dissent will be made to “unite” through power and coercion.

For secularists, “unity” means everyone agrees with them. All dissent must be crushed. It’s no coincidence that the political Left is advocating against free speech and trying to shut down conservative news sources and organizations. As Ben Shapiro has noted, the Left’s idea of “diversity” is not a diversity of ideas, but a diversity of genders and colors all saying the same thing.

Charges of voter fraud in the last election began the day after the election. Many examples have been cited. Thousands of affidavits have been given. A number of cases were filed with the courts. Some of the claims have been debunked. Others remain to be proven or disproven. Most Americans don’t have the time to follow all of the evidence, and many don’t know exactly what to make of it. All they know is that Joe Biden was inaugurated as the President of the United States, so the election is settled for all intents and purposes.

I was one of those Americans that followed the claims of fraud quite closely early on, but time is precious, and eventually life has to go on. I don’t get paid to follow the news. I resolved that there seemed to be clear evidences of localized fraud, but the number of votes affected by those clear examples did not appear to be enough to change the outcome of the election. I have always been open to the possibility that the fraud was sufficient to have changed the outcome of the election, but was not willing to say the election was stolen unless and until it could be demonstrated by the evidence. I have no tolerance for conspiracy theories or speculation. Evidence must win the day.

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The latest scare being proffered by the media is that it isn’t safe to be an Asian in America. Headlines everywhere read “Asian hate crime is up 150%.”

Is this true? Technically, yes, at least according to the calculations of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University San Bernardino. However, when you look at the actual number of incidents, it becomes clear that violence against Asians is not an epidemic in this country.

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A new Gallup poll reveals that church membership has decreased 23% over the last 20 years. Roughly 70% of Americans were members of a church from 1940 through 2000, but since 2000 church membership has quickly declined. It fell 9% from 2000 to 2010, and 14% from 2010 to 2020.

Gallup attributes more than half of the drop in church attendance to the increase in those who no longer identify with any particular religion. However, even among the religiously affiliated, church membership is down across all age demographics (but rates are higher the younger the demo).

More than 80 fragments of Nahum and Zechariah (not all have text written on them) were recently discovered in the Judean desert. These are the first Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in 60 years. Apparently, these fragments belong to a scroll of the Minor Prophets that was discovered in this same cave more than 60 years ago. That scroll, and these new fragments, are written in Greek rather than Hebrew. One of the interesting features of this scroll is that the name of God is written in paleo Hebrew, which is the ancient Hebrew script. Hopefully more scrolls will soon be discovered.

See:

Biblical Archaeology Society

The Jerusalem Post

I would like to know your thoughts on a potential name change for this blog.

From day one, “theosophical ruminations” has caused a small bit of confusion. “Theosophical” is a combination of “theology” and “philosophical,” but it sounds similar to “theosophy,” which is not a movement I want to be confused with.

I’m considering renaming the site to “Theogetical Ruminations?” Theogetical is a combination of “theology” and “apologetical.” Not only would this distance me from any association with theosophy, but it would describe the blog a bit better. I focus much more on theology and apologetics (theogetical) than I do on theology and philosophy (theosophical).

What say ye? Keep theosophical, or change it to theogetical?

In Meriwether v Hartop, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a professor who refused to call a student by his preferred (feminine) pronouns (see Law & Crime for the backstory to the case). The 3-panel court ruled that this violated both his free speech and religious rights. This is a big win for those advocating for both common sense and free speech in regards to preferred gender pronouns.

Language is sexed. Pronouns are meant to match one’s biological sex, not their personal sense of gender identity. If a biological boy thinks of himself as a girl, that’s fine, but he remains a biological male nonetheless, and as such, according to the English rules of grammar, should be referred to with male pronouns. In the same way the boy has a right to think of himself as a girl, we have a right to use language the way we see fit – which, in this case, accords with both biological reality and the rules of English grammar. No one should be compelled to use certain speech or deny biological reality.

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If you haven’t heard of the story regarding the dad jailed for calling his trans-son “daughter” and using female pronouns, you need to. He was arrested for “family violence.” While this happened in Canada, given the trajectory in the U.S., it won’t be long before this kind of thing happens here as well. Indeed, we are on the precipice of this happening here already.

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Equality and equity do not mean the same thing. Equality is everyone being treated equal and getting what they deserve. Equity means fairness, but the way the political Left understands equity is anything but fair. They see equity as ensuring the same outcome whether you deserve it or not, and largely based on comparing groups to groups rather than individuals to individuals. This sort of equity is not achieved by treating everyone equally, but by treating some groups unequally so that the results are the same for all groups. If group A makes more money than group B, then policies are instituted that hurt group A but benefit group B so that the two groups will have the same outcome. Unfairness in the name of fairness. Don’t fall for this verbal deception. That’s not equity. Support equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome.

It’s common to hear theologians and apologists claim that Jesus’ self-designation, “son of man,” is a reference to the divine/exalted figure in Daniel 7:13-14. As such, Jesus’ use of “son of man” is a claim to deity. However, there are two problems with this conclusion. First, while Jesus referred to Himself as “son of man” many times, He only connected the term with Daniel 7:13-14 on one occasion (Mt 26:64-66; Mk 14:62-64; Lk 22:67-71). Is it reasonable to think that Jesus’ understanding of this phrase is based entirely on Daniel 7 when He only connected the phrase with Daniel 7 on one occasion at the end of His ministry? While I do not doubt that Jesus saw Himself as the son of man figure of Daniel 7, I do not think this exhausted His understanding or use of the phrase.

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There are differences of opinion regarding whether it is moral or beneficial for transgender people to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Regardless of where you land in that debate, everyone should be able to agree that it is unfair to allow “transgender women” (biological men who identify as women) to compete in women’s sports.

This is not about equality, but fairness. Biological males have clear physical advantages over biological females, guaranteeing that transgender women will beat all or most biological women in sports. That is why we have always separated sports by sex. Allowing transgender women to compete in women’s sports is not fair to biological women. They practice and train for years to be the best among women, only to be beaten by a biological male.

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When in a discussion, I tend to be quick to note my disagreement when someone says something I disagree with. I am prone to immediately launch into all the reasons I think they are wrong, followed by presenting and arguing for my own point of view. Unfortunately, this is not the best approach to resolving disagreement.

The mantra I am trying to live by is “make them justify before you falsify.” What does this mean? Before you ever attempt to falsify someone’s belief or statement, ask them why they think it is true. Why do they believe what they believe? What reasons do they have? The burden of proof is always on the person making the claim. It’s not our job to show why they are wrong, but their job to demonstrate that they are right.

If you pause a moment to make them justify their claim, you’ll often find that they have little-to-no justification, or that their reasons are quite bad. Once they realize that they have no (or poor) justification, they will likely be more open to your critique of their view as well as your own view. So the next time you are tempted to voice your disagreement, make them justify before you falsify.