The Mystery of Parables

The Mystery of Parables
Vol: 126 Issue: 20 Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I was challenged recently with a question that I guess we’ve all wrestled with at some time or another.  Why is the Bible so ambiguous on so many important points of doctrine?

For example, there are three different doctrinal views concerning the Rapture; four different doctrinal views concerning the timing of the Rapture, three different doctrinal views on the Millennial Kingdom, and so on.

Some argue, based on their reading of Scripture, that the Rapture is not taught anywhere in the Bible.  They aren’t liars or false prophets or false teachers.  They sincerely don’t believe that the Bible teaches of a Rapture.

The late Dr. Ray Brubaker, based on his reading of Scripture argued in favor of a partial Rapture.  In his view, the Lord will return for His Church, but only for that part of it that is living in a state of grace at the time.

Those Christians that are saved, but out of fellowship with the Lord, will be left behind to go through the Tribulation. 

This contrasts with the third possibility, which is that every living Christian will be Raptured by the Lord.

Even as good, sincere, Bible believing Christians disagree on whether there will be a Rapture, there are disagreements about when.  I believe that the Rapture will occur before the breaking of the First Seal, which is the revelation of the Antichrist. (Daniel 9:27, 2 Thessalonians 2:7, Revelation 6:2)

Others believe the Rapture doesn’t take place until after 1/4 of the population has been killed by the first five judgments.  This is known as the “Pre-Wrath Rapture.”  There are others that believe it takes place at the mid-point, others still that are convinced it doesn’t happen until the very end.

There are even three different perspectives on the Millennial Kingdom;  amillennialism, meaning No Millennial Kingdom.  Proponents of this view believe that the Second Coming and the Great White Throne Judgment are concurrent. 

Post-millennialists believe that the Bible teaches the Second Coming comes after the Millennium.  Pre-millennialists believe the Bible teaches that the Second Coming marks the start of a Thousand Year Kingdom that ends with the Great White Throne Judgment.

These are pretty widely divergent beliefs, given that they all emerged from the same Bible.  Each of these views has its champions, and all of them are sincere, devoted and honest seekers of Biblical truth that believe with all their hearts that they have found that truth.

Having found what they believe the Bible really teaches on a particular topic, they naturally want to share that belief with others.  After all, that is what we Christians are supposed to do, right?  Each one teach one? 

That is how Christianity made the leap from twelve Jews in a Roman backwater province to becoming the largest monothesitic faith on earth.

Each one, teach one. 

So how can it be that ALL of us read the same Bible, are called by the same Father, saved by the same Son, and led by the same Holy Spirit, and end up with such widely different eschatological doctrines?  

We’ve discussed the word mystery and how it is used in the New Testament before.  In New Testament Greek, the word musterion or “mystery” means “something not previously revealed.”

Jesus was once asked by His disciples why it was that He sometimes taught using parables, instead of teaching the point outright. He replied;

“And He said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:” (Mark 4:11)

But parables are open to interpretation.  Why not just speak in clear, unambiguous terms?

Assessment:

After the Flood, the Bible says that God instructed Noah and his sons to go forth and multiply,to replenish the earth.  Genesis Chapter 10 is one of those chapters most of us skip through — the first verse is a warning that your eyes will glaze over before you hit the last one:

“Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood.”  (Genesis 10:1)

After that, they begat children that begat children that begat more children . . . (yawn) . . . that had sons with names like Raamah. . . (yawn) . .  . and . . .

And we slept right through the answer we’re looking for, buried in the middle of the chapter. 

“And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.” (Genesis 10:8-10)

Then, where they went after that; Ham, Cush, and Mizraim . . . (yawn) . . .and Rezen between Nineveh and . . . (yawn) . .  and the Jebusite and the Amorite. . . (ZZZZZZZZ)

. . . ZZZZZ SNORK . . .

And we come to the next chapter, wherein we learn that the “whole earth was of one language and of one speech.” (Genesis Chapter 11:1)

If you stayed awake through Chapter Ten, recall that Nimrod started his kingdom in Babel.  So Nimrod has gathered all the people that were supposed to go forth and multiply into his kingdom.  Remember the time frame. What all those begats in the previous chapter tell us is that the Flood is probably still within living memory.

Nimrod — the first King of the World — is in clear defiance of God’s admonition to disperse and replenish the earth — and he says so outright.  He announces that he has found a way to defeat God and forestall any future judgment.  

“And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:4)

Understand what is happening here.  The people like living in Babel.  They don’t want to obey God, but they don’t want to be swept away by another Flood, either.  Encouraged by their King, the people are openly defying God, trusting in Nimrod’s planned countermeasures against judgment.

To prevent a united population from going into open rebellion and forcing God’s Hand of judgment, God confused their languages and separated them into nations.

Now, back to musterion and parables and ambiguity and a dozen sincerely held eschatological doctrinal views.

Prior to the Reformation, Christianity was more or less united under the papacy.  The Church became first a tyrant, then a business, then King of the World.  During its zenith, no temporal king sat on his throne, except by papal permission.

The King of the World could offer indulgences, which he claimed were countermeasures against judgment in purgatory, a place of punishment invented by the King of the World so he could offer get out of purgatory free cards.

By the time of the Reformation, doctrinal dissention was dealt with by burning dissenters at the stake.  

And then, with the Reformation, God’s people were scattered once again, only this time, spiritually, into denominations, breaking the power of the King, at least, for a time. 

“And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.” (Revelation 17:10)

Ultimately, the Bible says, there will be one more aspirant to the title of King of the World.

“And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.” (Revelation 17:11)

As we count down the generations to the last days,  there are all kinds of sincerely held beliefs about how they will play out, according to differing understandings of the very same passages. 

This has the effect of keeping us united on the central doctrines of Christianity, which is that one must be born again, while keeping enough doctrinal disunity about the things to come to keep us watchful. 

“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only He who now letteth will let, until He be taken out of the way.” (2 Thessalonians 2:7)

At first glance, the ambiguity about the things of the end seems mysterious; why not just tell us exactly what to look for?  But the mystery is just enough to keep us all from being united under a clever deceiver. 

We Christians are a fractious bunch; apart from salvation by grace through faith in Christ, we don’t agree on hardly anything.  But we agree that we need a Savior.  We agree that the Bible is the Word of God.  We agree that we are saved by grace and not works.

“That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ.” (Colossians 2:2)

But we’ll never agree that we should all come together as one big Christian family. New Testament ambiguity ensures there will never again be a Christian Nimrod.

“Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” (Matthew 13:13)

Not until ‘He who lets’ is taken out of the way.

Wherefore By Their Fruits, Ye Shall Know Them

Wherefore By Their Fruits, Ye Shall Know Them
Vol: 126 Issue: 19 Monday, March 19, 2012

The systematic and growing assault against the sincerity, reputation and Christian character of the evangelist Billy Graham started at just about the time of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal in 1998 and has only picked up speed since.

Astonishingly, the ones behind the attack are not anti-Christian bigots or non-Christians hoping to blunt the point of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s spear.  The ones throwing around the most spurious charges against Billy Graham are other Christians.

One of the claims being made is that Billy Graham is really a 33rd degree Mason.  Don Kinde of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) responded to that charge in a letter to Cutting Edge Ministries, which had cited two Masonic websites that claimed Billy Graham on their “Famous Masons” page.

This is how Cutting Edge Ministries explained it.

Both of these web sites reported that Mr. Graham was one of their “Famous Masons”. Since that time both have removed his name from the list. We reported this information to our readers, because, if Mr. Graham is a Freemason, then the faith in him and his ministry, which is shared by millions of Christians worldwide, is misplaced, to say the least. If Mr. Graham is a Freemason, then when Antichrist does arise, we can expect that Mr. Graham will step forward to urge Christians to follow Antichrist. The New World Order Plan does envision this very type of role for all major leaders of all major religions of the world, including “Christian” leaders. We felt that God’s warning to Ezekiel in Chapter 3:17-21, was a warning to us, as well, in these most perilous End Times.

Therefore, we reported that Mr. Graham was listed on these Web pages as one of the “Famous Masons”. A firestorm ensued, and it was a fire that burned at both ends. We heard from many of our readers, as most of them were irate that we would “attack” a Christian brother. On the other hand, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) also heard from our readers. We also emailed the BGEA, reporting that we had found his name listed as a “Famous Mason” and we asked for a response that we could print in an adjacent article.

To their credit, after spreading around the charge that Graham was a Freemason and possible supporter of the antichrist, they printed the full response from the BGEA’S Don Kinde. You can read the the full response there. I will reproduce the most salient points to save space.

“Thank you for your e-mail message regarding Freemasonry.  My answer was to the question of Dr. Graham’s view of and involvement with Freemasonry.  I will respond to your three questions:

1. BGEA does not have an official position on Freemasonry.  Mr. Graham’s response that he is not, has not, and does not expect ever to be involved in Freemasonry is as close to any policy that we have.

2. Freemasons do not have compatible beliefs with fundamental Christianity.

3. We would not suggest that a person take an oath of Freemasonry.”

So, the BGEA totally denies Billy Graham is a Freemason.  The BGEA finds Freemasonry incompatible with fundamental Christianity and considers taking the Freemason oath ill-advised.

If a lodge or club denies the Triune God, or the deity and atoning sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, or teaches that we can find salvation through our own meritorious good deeds, or interferes in any way with the service of a Christian to his Lord or to his church, that organization should have no appeal for a Christian. We are expected by God to use wisdom in deciding whether or not to be a member of any organization. The Bible says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, ‘he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him’ (James 1:5).”

Kinde’s letter goes on to cite evidence that Freemasonry is not Christian, but is instead a Christian cult.  Kinde also provides resources like “Masons: What They Believe” by Harold J Berry and “The Facts on the Masonic Lodge: Does Masonry Conflict with Christian Faith?” by John Ankerberg and John Weldon.

Kinde even gives the address of a group dedicated to helping former Freemasons break free: (Free The Masons Ministries, PO Box 1077, Issaquah, Washington 98027.

So, before moving on, let’s summarize what we have so far.  The Masonic Lodges that previously claimed Graham have scrubbed his name.  Graham denies membership.  The BGEA defines it as a “cult” so if Billy Graham is really a member, then his organization either doesn’t know, or they are all part of a conspiracy.

Turning Billy Graham into some kind of depraved fraud has become something of an internet cottage industry.  If one looks around long enough, one can find quotes from Billy Graham that suggest that Graham doubted his own salvation.  One such quote making the rounds is from an interview with Tony Snow in January, 2000.

Graham had just confessed that when he got to heaven, he feared God may say, “You’re in the wrong place.”  An incredulous Tony Snow asked him if he really feared that might happen.

“Yes, because I have not – I’m not a righteous man. People put me up on a pedestal that I don’t belong in my personal life. And they think that I’m better than I am. I’m not the good man that people think I am. Newspapers and magazines and television have made me out to be a saint. I’m not.”

Does that mean Graham doubted his salvation?  Maybe.  Haven’t you?  Does that make you the antichrist?

Assessment:

“Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.” (James 3:5-6)

How many of the tens of thousands of folks that went forward at a Billy Graham Crusade altar call were in on the conspiracy to pretend Billy Graham is a Christian?

How many of those that went forward at a Billy Graham crusade were actually saved at that crusade?

Do you know the answers to either of those questions? 

And let me post a third question that is even more to the point, from Someone that DOES know the answers.

“And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?”  (Matthew 12:25-26)

Billy Graham led multiplied millions to Christ by the power of Satan?  By the power of Freemasonry? 

Billy Graham, himself an agent of Satan, (and therefore by definition, a “natural” man)was able to fool the Holy Spirit into empowering him so that he could lead people out of Satan’s clutches — while he was working for Satan?  How?

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)

So, if you believe the Bible, then to view Billy Graham as a fraud, you MUST:

  1. Accept that every single person who eve came forward at a Crusade was part of a Satanic conspiracy, or;
  2. Conclude that what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:14 is wrong.

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which was formed by Billy Graham and has dedicated itself to spreading the Gospel of Christ, must be co-conspirators or dupes.  If they are dupes, then the Holy Spirit must not be very powerful, since He didn’t tell them. 

(Especially since He must have told you.)

Otherwise, you wouldn’t be spreading what would otherwise be scandalous and unsubstantiated rumors that could potentially damage the BGEA’s credibility and by extension, its effectiveness as an evangelistic organization.

Since that would serve Satan, you wouldn’t want to be doing that! 

Would you?

To make the charge that Billy Graham isn’t really a Christian but is really a 33rd Degree Freemason, one must first make certain assumptions that lead to that conclusion.

The first is that the Holy Spirit does not indwell him.  The second is that the Bible is wrong when it says;

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)

One MUST assume that the rest of the BGEA are in on the conspiracy, since Christ has no fellowship with Belial.  

One must also assume that those who were so moved at a Graham crusade that they responded to altar call were led to Christ by the power of Satan as part of an elaborate conspiracy to prepare the way for the antichrist.

One must assume that everybody else involved is equally evil, the Bible is wrong, and that none of those multiplied millions was really saved. 

Only then can one logically conclude that Billy Graham is really a false Christian member of the Freemasons who is a Satanic plant working for the antichrist.

Make no mistake. I am not defending Billy Graham.  Neither do I agree with everything he teaches.  I’m not defending Graham, I am defending Bible doctrine. 

Because if Billy Graham is a fraud, then the Bible can’t be true and God must be a liar.  Or else there is no explanation for how Billy Graham could lead people to Christ.

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” (Matthew 7:16-17)

It doesn’t serve Satan to see people saved.  But it does serve Satan if Billy Graham’s ministry dies when he does. I don’t need to know Billy Graham’s heart to recognize the fruits of his efforts.

“Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matthew 7:20)

If God says that we’ll know someone by their fruits, then who am I to disbelieve God? 

Faith Doesn’t Mean the Same Thing as Stupid

Faith Doesn’t Mean the Same Thing as Stupid
Vol: 126 Issue: 17 Saturday, March 17, 2012

It is no stretch to say that the world as we know it is in trouble, to say the least.  To say the most would be to say that we’re witnessing our physical world, our environment and human culture heading into the early stages of demise.

If our world were a human being, we’d be wondering whether that cough we just heard was the first telltale sign of terminal lung cancer, or whether it was beginning to show signs of succumbing to old age. 

If the earth really is millions, if not billions of years old, and if humanity has been here for a million years or more, then the ‘old age’ argument seems kind of weak.  This sense of impending planetary doom has only been around since about 1948, when we invented stuff like atomic bombs and television.

Before that, it seemed as if the world would go on forever.  Prior to that, there was no planetary sense of impending doom.  There were no marches aimed at saving the planet.  There were no symposiums to discuss the sustainability of life on earth. 

Nobody was afraid of cow flatulence, air pollution, rising seas, global warming, solar flares, planet-killing asteroids or the death of the oceans, prior to 1948.  Prior to 1948, there was no general sense of an impending mass extinction event.

Prior to 1948 there was no Doomsday Clock.  While a Doomsday “midnight” was not even on the horizon prior to 1948, in the years since, the Doomsday Clock’s hands remain set at just before midnight.

And so, to return to the earlier point, sixty or seventy years out of a million years or more is like a split second taken out of a month of Sundays.  On that scale, what we observe during that split second of existence is like hearing a single cough and diagnosing a case of terminal lung cancer.

On the other hand, if the earth is much closer to being just six thousand years old, then the slice of time in which we are making these observations is more significant.  But how could the earth be just six thousand years old? 

More than that, what about the universe?  For example, if God created the universe six thousand years ago, then how can one explain light years?   A light year is the amount of distance a beam of light can travel in a solar calendar year.  

Today a beam of light (in a vaccum) can travel some six trillion miles in one year.  So six trillion miles is a light year and Alpha Centauri, our closest cosmic neighbor, is 4.37 light years away. Expressed as a number, that is 26,000,000,000,000 miles away.

BUT, any effort to estimate the age of anything necessarily involves a number of assumptions; where to start measuring, constancy of rates, contamination of the system, on so on. 

If any of these assumptions are wrong, then so, too are the conclusions reached. Take light years, for example.

If we assume that the current light speed has always been what it is today, then we reach one figure.  If we make that assumption incorrectly, then the universe could be much younger.

But we don’t know if light speed has always been constant — it could have moved more quickly in the past.  And changing the speed of light changes EVERYTHING, like the ratio of mass to energy, for example.

Science doesn’t know.  It assumes.

Another assumption is that time has always flowed at the same rate, a seemingly reasonable assumption.  But Einstein discovered that the rate at which time passes is affected by motion and by gravity.

For example, when an object moves very fast, close to the speed of light, its time is slowed down.  This is called “time-dilation.”  So, if we were able to accelerate a clock to nearly the speed of light, that clock would tick very slowly.  If we could somehow reach the speed of light, the clock would stop completely.

Likewise, gravity slows the passage of time.  A clock at sea-level would tick slower than one on a mountain, since the clock at sea-level is closer to the source of gravity.

The 2006 Indonesian earthquake that spawned the killer tsunami also shifted the earth on its axis slightly, affecting the space-time continuum and causing the earth to move several microseconds forward in time. 

So in real-world conditions, we have empirical evidence that time is not always a constant, even if by microseconds.  Now the question isn’t whether time is reliable, (we just proved it isn’t) but rather, it is a question of how reliable?

Since time can flow at different rates from different points of view, events that would take a long time as measured by one person will take very little time as measured by another person. This also applies to distant starlight.

Light that would take billions of years to reach earth (as measured by clocks in deep space) could reach earth in only thousands of years as measured by clocks on earth.

Imagine that a plane leaves a certain city at 4:00 p.m. for a two-hour flight. However, when the plane lands, the time is still 4:00. Since the plane arrived at the same time it left, we might call this an instantaneous trip.  Except that the plane crossed two time zones.

Still, it was 4:00 pm when you left, and it is 4:00 pm when you arrived two hours later, as measured by universal time, not local time.  There is a cosmic equivalent to local and universal time.  Light traveling toward earth is like the plane traveling west; it always remains at the same cosmic local time.

Since God created the stars on Day 4, their light would leave the star on Day 4 and reach earth on Day 4 cosmic local time.  Light from all galaxies would reach earth on Day 4 if we measure it according to cosmic local time.

Someone might object that the light itself would experience billions of years (as the passenger on the plane experiences the two hour trip).  Except that according to Einstein’s relativity theory, light does not experience the passage of time.

So the trip would be instantaneous.

Another assumption made by science is the assumption that all phenomena can be explained in natural terms.  That assumption by definition excludes the supernatural, an assumption whose flaws are self-evident.

God can, and usually does, use natural laws to accomplish His will, which is the reason that we have a word for when He does not — supernatural.  Since God is supernatural, He is capable of acting outside natural law.

This certainly applies during Creation Week.  God created the universe supernaturally.  He created it from nothing, not from previously existing material.  Today, we do not see God speaking into existence new stars or new kinds of creatures.

God ended His work of creation by the seventh day.  Today, God sustains the universe in a different way than He created it.  The naturalist erroneously assumes that the universe was created by the same processes by which it operates today.

Of course it would be absurd to apply this assumption to most other things.

A light bulb converts electricity into light, but it does not follow that electricity created the light bulb.

Since the stars were created during Creation Week and since God made them to give light upon the earth, the way in which distant starlight arrived on earth may have been supernatural.

Assuming that past acts of God are necessarily understandable in terms of a current scientific mechanism is misleading, because science can only probe the way in which God sustains the universe today.

It is irrational to argue that a supernatural act from the past cannot be true on the basis that it cannot be explained by natural processes observed today.

Assessment:

“O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:20-21)

To summarize briefly before moving on, let’s recap what we know and what we don’t know.

We know the Bible says the universe was created in six days.  We don’t know what the speed of light was at the time of creation, so we cannot categorically say that light and distance prove otherwise.

We know that the act of creation was by supernatural means.  We don’t know at what point God spoke the natural laws that now govern the universe into existence.  We know, for example, that science argues the Big Bang created the universe from a single pinpoint.

Evolutionists and proponents of Big Bang compress time, space and matter into the head of a pin, then take the opposite position to argue that the distance between the stars dates the universe. 

In the 1650’s an Anglican bishop named James Ussher published his “Annals of the World“. Bishop Ussher was no ordinary man, but one who was unmistakably blessed with incredible intelligence and insight that he devoted entirely to the study of God’s Word.  (By age 26, Ussher was chair of the Divinity Department at Dublin University.)

While that in and of itself would be worthy of a lifetime achievement award, Ussher went on to full professorship, served as vice-chancellor of Trinity College twice, and, by age 44, was elevated to the rank of Archbishop of Armagh, the highest position in the Irish Anglican Church.

The point is that Bishop Ussher was not just a smart man.  He was an intellectual giant who used his God-given gifts to advance the understanding of God’s Word.

Bishop Ussher’s “Annals of the World” begins at the point of creation, which he determined was October 23, 4004 BC.

Ussher’s arrival at the date of October 23 was determined based on the fact that most peoples of antiquity, especially the Jews, started their calendar at harvest time.

Ussher concluded there must be good reason for this, so he chose the first Sunday following autumnal equinox.

Although the autumnal equinox is September 21 today, that is only because of historical calendar-juggling to make the years come out right.

In September 1752, eleven days were dropped to bring the calendar back in line with the seasons.  Another day was dropped at the beginning of the 19th and 20th century for the same reason.

Ussher’s calculations, made centuries before these adjustments, are vindicated by them.  Pretty impressive stuff for a guy working by candlelight centuries before the advent of a calculator.

The reason Ussher’s work is so accurate was because he relied solely on Scripture as his source of information.

Ussher arrived at the date of 4004 BC by taking known dates in history, and calculating backwards by using the chronologies of Genesis Chapters 5 and 11 and working backwards.  The calculations themselves were so complicated that, in the original documents, they covered more than one hundred pages.

Using Bishop’s Ussher’s calculations, the Prophet Hosea lived from 3197 to 3246, or, BC 808 to 759.  Ussher’s dating is expressed in standard years, although he worked from the perspective of the ancient calendar of twelve months of thirty days each.

At the end of each year, the ancients tacked on five days, and every four years they added six days.  The prophet Hosea wrote,

 “Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up. After two days will He revive us; in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight.” (Hosea 6:1-2)

Further on, the prophet predicted;

“Also, O Judah, He hath set an harvest for thee, when I returned the captivity of My people.” (6:11)

Hosea began with the Promise of God that “He will heal us and bind us up” — a promise that was fulfilled with the Crucifixion and Resurrection of the Messiah Jesus. We date our own calendar counting forward from Christ.

So does God, which brings us back to Hosea’s prophecy. “After two days will He revive us, and in the third day, raise us up,” writes the prophet. Twice in Scripture, God reveals His own reckoning of time.

“For a thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.” (Psalms 90:4)

“But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that ONE DAY is with the Lord AS A THOUSAND YEARS, and a thousand years as one day.” (2nd Peter 3:8)

Using Scripture to make the calculations, Bishop Ussher’s calculation of creation as being 4004 years before Christ isn’t based on the year of Christ’s Birth. But Hosea’s prophecy IS.

Israel’s physical revival has been an ongoing process for sixty-four years as the world’s Jews, including members of the Ten Lost Tribes, are being re-gathered to the land of Israel. Ezekiel’s prophecy of Israel’s redemption process is almost complete.

Hosea said of the Jews, ‘AFTER two days will He revive us, and IN the third day . . we will live in His sight.’ And the Apostle Peter taught that;

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2nd Peter 3:9)

It is clear that God is extending His ‘grace period’ (the Church Age of Grace) to give all men one last chance to accept the gift of pardon that He extends to them, but it is equally clear that His patience is being rapidly exhausted.

Bishop Ussher gave us at least as reasonable an estimate for the age of the earth as the most careful scientific calculations can, given that both arguments are based on assumptions.  The secular scientist assumes that all his calculations are universally correct going back into the impossible, unknowable and incalculable reaches of time.

Bishop Ussher’s calculations were based on the assumption that the Bible is true.  So here’s the deal.

Science used to think the world was flat.  Wrong assumption.  The Bible, on the other hand, always maintained the earth is round.  

Science used to assume that light was static.  It appeared and disappeared, depending.  But the Bible teaches that light is in motion.

Science used to assume that wind moved in a straight line.  But the Bible teaches that wind blows in a circular pattern.  (Ecclesiastes 1:6

Science once assumed air was weightless.  Job 28:25 reveals that the wind has weight.  

We don’t know everything.  We aren’t supposed to know everything.  We are supposed to live by faith.  Here is something else we know.  In every instance where the Bible can be fact-checked on matters of history, archeology, medicine, science, and times and dates, the Bible checks out accurately.

No single claim of Scripture has ever been conclusively disproved, despite the best efforts of every generation of scientists and skeptics since the Bible was first compiled.

If all of science’s assumptions are right, then so are the conclusions reached.  But since science can be wrong, and often is, putting one’s faith in science is what it is.

Faith doesn’t mean the same thing as stupid.

Graveyard of Empires

Graveyard of Empires
Vol: 126 Issue: 16 Friday, March 16, 2012

It seems a little hard to believe, really, but Afghanistan is the world’s 41st largest and the 42nd most populous nation.  The reason it seems so hard to believe is because in Afghanistan, life is so cheap. It gives one pause to wonder how that many people could survive.

By any impartial standard, Afghanistan deserves its reputation at the top of the list of the “world’s most dangerous countries” and stands tall among the world’s largest producers of refugees and asylum seekers.

Afghanistan has another reputation, as well.  In addition to being among the world’s most dangerous countries, it is also universally known as the “Graveyard of Empires.” 

There is a myth to the effect that Afghanistan has never been conquered, but it is one easily dispelled by a little research.  Afghanistan has been conquered many, many times over the course of its history.  It was conquered by the Medes and the Persians.  Then by the Greeks.  Then by the Parthians, the Hindus, and the Palas.  

Until about 1840, Afghanistan was better known as the “highway of conquest” than it was as the graveyard of empires. For 2500 years, it was always part of somebody else’s empire. 

Let’s take a look at Afghanistan’s long and bloody historical record and see where we fit in.

It was conquered by Islamist forces in 642 AD and then by a series of regional powers, including the Mongols and the Timurids under Tamerlane.   Afghanistan has been attacked and conquered at least two dozen times since prehistoric times.

The British captured Kabul in the First Afghan War in 1839.  The British held the city until 1841 when they were forced out of the city by a local uprising. 

The British East India Company, consisting of 4500 troops accompanied by 12,000 members of what today would be called “civilian contractors” abandoned Kabul and set out for the British garrison at Jalalabad.

The British force of 16,500 never made it to Jalalabad. Beset upon from all sides by poorly armed 6th century Afghan tribesman, only one man, Dr. William Brydon, the regimental assistant surgeon, made it to Jalalabad alive.

The rest — all 16,500 of them, were annihilated by the Afghan tribesmen.

In retaliation, another British force invaded Kabul in 1843, burning a portion of the city. In the same year, the war came to an end, and in 1857 Emir Dost Mohammad, who had been restored to power in 1843, signed an alliance with the British.

In 1878, the Second Anglo-Afghan War began, which ended two years later with Britain winning control of Afghanistan’s foreign affairs.

The British retained control of Afghanistan until 1919, when they granted Afghan independence following the third Afghan War. That was about when the British Empire began its slow slide from power.  

In 1919, the British Empire ruled almost a quarter of the world’s land mass and a fifth of the world’s population.  Fifty years later, the British Empire had lost its last colony, Burma, and the British Empire was no more.

The first country to establish diplomatic relations with Afghanistan was the newly-formed Soviet Union.  An Afghan-Soviet non-aggression pact was signed in 1921 and the Soviets began “assisting” the Afghans, sending them financial aid and began modernizing the country’s infrastructure.

The Soviets began a major economic assistance program in Afghanistan in the 1950s. Between 1954 and 1978, Afghanistan received more than $1 billion in Soviet aid, including substantial military assistance.

In 1973, the two countries announced a $200-million assistance agreement on gas and oil development, trade, transport, irrigation, and factory construction.

In 1979, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, telling the world they were going in to liberate Afghan communists.  The real reason was because the Soviets were desperate for a warm-water port. Afghani Muslims revolted, and the Soviet Union’s ten year war with Afghanistan began.

Since the Soviets were on one side, the United States took the other, and began supplying the Soviet Union’s enemies, the Taliban, led by a Saudi millionaire named Osama bin Laden.  In 1989, the Soviets gave up their dreams of conquering their way to the sea, packed up their weapons and went home.

The Soviet Empire, having spent itself out of existence, collapsed on Christmas Day, 1991.

Assessment:

Afghanistan may enjoy a reputation as the graveyard of empires, not because of any particular military skill on the part of the Afghanis, but because in recent history, it has become the last place that empires go before they die.

It could be coincidence. But the fact remains that Afghanistan was the British Army’s longest and bloodiest foreign war.  Later, it became the Soviet Union’s longest and bloodiest foreign war.  And while Afghanistan is nowhere near America’s bloodiest war, foreign or domestic, it is certainly the longest.

The war began on October 7, 2002.  This fall, if American forces are still in Afghanistan, we will have been at war for ten years, longer than the civil war, World War I and World War II combined. 

Last month, American soldiers assigned to the trash detail accidently burned some Korans that had been thrown away after it was discovered that detainees were writing messages to one another inside.  Two Afghan employees of the US then spread the word and Afghan soldiers started turning their US supplied weapons on their benefactors.

A seventh US soldier was confirmed killed by an Afghani soldier yesterday.

Last week, one of the veterans of our longest war, serving his fourth combat tour, suddenly snapped and went on a murderous killing spree.  When the smoke cleared, sixteen Afghani civilians were dead.

The Taliban announced that they would seek to capture and behead US soldiers in retaliation.  The drug-addled puppet government of Hamid Karzai immediately ordered all international forces in the field to return to their respective bases and demanded they be withdrawn early.

That doesn’t mean that we’re necessarily going to do it.  If NATO withdrew all its troops from Afghanistan tomorrow, Karzai would be hanging from the nearest tree the day afterwards. 

Karzai is known for making dramatic demands for domestic consumption and then backing off under US pressure.

This time, however, is different. Americans have had enough.  We achieved our military objective of disrupting the Taliban and destroying al-Qaeda’s Afghanistan base.  Osama bin Laden is dead.  President Obama came to office on the promise to end the war.

We didn’t know at the time that he meant by any means necessary, including losing. But it would seem that, now that we have, we’re fine with it. 

We have expended billions of dollars and thousands of American lives in the effort to drag Afghanistan out of the sixth century and into the modern world — but they don’t want to come.

It’s like helping somebody cross the street that doesn’t want to cross the street. We put them in a headlock dragged them across, and now we are fighting to keep them from turning around and crossing back over. 

But nobody seems quite certain why, anymore. If they like living in mud huts, who are we to quibble? It has been observed that in Pashtu, there are no words for “thank you”, “please” or “sorry.”

Over the last six decades, we have gotten rather good at losing wars, declaring victory and pulling out. Maybe the time has come to put that hard-learned skill to good use, one more time. 

Slurring the President

Slurring the President
Vol: 126 Issue: 15 Thursday, March 15, 2012

Evangelist Franklin Graham has apologized to the White House for remarks he had made recently in which he questioned President Obama’s commitment to Christ.  According to the newly mythologized version, Rev. Graham questioned whether the President was even a Christian.

But that’s not exactly how it went down, Graham’s apology notwithstanding.  Graham was appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, hosted by former conservative politician Joe Scarborough.  But Graham didn’t directly question Obama’s faith.  He simply said he didn’t see much evidence of it.

“[Obama] has said he’s a Christian, so I just have to assume that he is,” Graham told Scarborough.  When pressed, Graham told Scarborough: “All I know is I’m a sinner, and God has forgiven me of my sins… you have to ask every person.”

When asked if he believed that Santorum was a Christian, Graham was far more direct, which caused the Left to go ballistic.

“I think so. His values are so clear on moral issues. No question about it… I think he’s a man of faith.”

WHAT?  Reverend Graham thinks that Santorum is a Christian, but doesn’t think that Barack Obama is?  Even in spite of all the evidence?  Like, ummm, well, the Obamas went to church a couple of times.  And I think I once saw Obama carrying a Bible.  Didn’t I?  Maybe not.

And of course, Obama always makes a point of recognizing great Christian holidays like Ramadan and Ein al Fitr — no, wait!  I mean Easter.  Like in 2010,  when he edited “Jesus” out of a quote he used during an Easter speech.

Or like in 2011 when he took a pass on even acknowledging such a holiday exists on a calendar.  Why would Reverend Graham question Obama’s commitment?  

The media and the blogosphere are abuzz with dumbfounded reactions to the White House’s snub of Christians during the weekend. No presidential proclamation celebrating Christianity’s highest holy day of Easter was issued, compounded by the White House chief spokesman’s scoffing response to reporters’ questions about the omission.

As Fox News noted on Monday, “By comparison, the White House has released statements recognizing the observance of major Muslim holidays and released statements in 2010 on Ramadan, Eid-ul-Fitr, Hajj, and Eid-ul-Adha.” On top of neglecting Easter, the president “also failed to release a statement marking Good Friday.” The White House did, however, “release an eight-paragraph statement heralding Earth Day,” which fell on Good Friday.

What’s more, on March 20, President Barack Obama even videotaped an “important message” that was more than four minutes long commemorating Nowruz, the Persian New Year that Iranians celebrate. In it, the president said, “You — the young people of Iran — carry within you both the ancient greatness of Persian civilization, and the power to forge a country that is responsive to your aspirations.”

He spoke to Iranians the way other presidents have spoken only to Americans, assuring them that, “though times may seem dark, I want you to know that I am with you.”

When asked about the conspicuous absence of an Easter statement from the president during Monday’s White House press briefing, press secretary Jay Carney adopted a smirking demeanor.

“You know, the president went to the church yesterday,” he said. “It was well covered. I’m not sure if we put out a statement or not, but he obviously personally celebrated Easter with his family and went to church to celebrate that.”

“Wait a minute,” one reporter interrupted. “The highest Christian holiday and you don’t know if he put out a statement?”

To be fair, Jay Carney has never claimed to be a Christian, so one can’t really blame him for making light of the highest holy day on the Christian calendar.  

Carney trivialized their queries, sarcastically responding, “I’m glad you’re asking these key, important questions, guys.” Carney assured them that President Obama is “a devoted Christian” who “believes it’s a very important holiday for him personally, for his family and for Christians around the country.”

But, as Barack Obama made no bones about admitting in his 2006 memoir, “The Audacity of Hope,” the secularism of his mother, father, and stepfather led him during his younger days to be far from a devoted Christian when it came to Easter.

“On Easter or Christmas Day my mother might drag me to church, just as she dragged me to the Buddhist temple, the Chinese New Year celebration, the Shinto shrine, and ancient Hawaiian burial sites,” Obama remembered. “But I was made to understand that such religious samplings required no sustained commitment on my part — no introspective exertion or self-flagellation.”

“In our household the Bible, the Koran, and the Bhagavad Gita sat on the shelf alongside books of Greek and Norse and African mythology.”

But back to Reverend Graham and his apology to the White House for questioning Obama’s commitment to Christ.  What really, really upset MSNBC was Reverend Graham’s comments regarding the president’s view of Islam.

“All I know is under Obama, President Obama, the Muslims of the world, he seems to be more concerned about them than the Christians that are being murdered in the Muslim countries. Islam sees him as a son of Islam… I can’t say categorically that [Obama is not Muslim] because Islam has gotten a free pass under Obama.”

How dare he slur the President that way?

Assessment:

The Left goes ballistic every time somebody questions Barack Obama’s commitment to a religion that clearly seems to completely baffle the guy.  Whenever the topic of Christianity raises its terrifying head, Obama swats it back down like it has fangs.

He alternates between feigning detached amusement or barely controlled anger whenever the topic of his commitment to Christ comes up.  Or he finds some way to twist Christianity to fit his political agenda.

President Obama expounded Tuesday on the reasons he became a Christian as an adult, telling a group of residents here that he was a “Christian by choice” and that “the precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead – being my brother and sister’s keeper.”

That is pretty revealing all by itself.  Obama’s Christianity is political.  He sees Jesus as a socialist and a far left radical.  Just like he is. 

But when Islam comes up during interviews, he immediately softens. While Obama sees Jesus as a prop to advance his socialist agenda, in an interview about his years growing up under Islam, after reciting the Muslim call to prayer in perfect Arabic, he described it as “one of the prettiest sounds on earth at sunset.”

Before going on, let’s address the most obvious hypocrisy first.

The White House, the mainstream media, and politicians on both sides of the aisle are pretty much unanimous in their assessment of Islam as “an honorable religion of peace and love that had been hijacked by a few terrorists.”

If that is true, then why would saying Obama might be a Muslim be characterized by the Left as a slur?  What’s wrong with being a member of an “honorable religion of peace and love” if that is what it really is.

Is anybody suggesting Obama is a terrorist?  Nope.  The worst I’ve heard is that Obama might be a Muslim.  Not even that anybody is sure that he is.  Only that he might be.  Since it is an honorable religion of peace and love, what is wrong with that?

Why does he have all his defenders out there distancing him from it?  Conversely, if Obama really is a Christian, then it seems highly curious to me that there would be so much doubt about it. 

I don’t recall Ronald Reagan or the senior Bush having to defend their commitments to their faith.  Even Bill Clinton didn’t find it necessary to defend his faith.

The only reason George Bush’s faith was ever an issue was because he named Jesus Christ as the most important person in his life during the 2000 presidential campaign, scandalizing the Left.  

Indeed, whenever past presidential Christianity ever became an issue, it generally presented Christianity in the negative.  

This is the first time I can recall the press going all-in to establish the religious credentials of a sitting president as “Christian.”  So in a weird way, we can thank Islam and the President for confirming America as the world’s most Christian country.

Obama can take credit for restoring Christianity as the benchmark standard acceptable religious worldview for an American leader — simply by demonstrating the alternative.  

“Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2 Timothy 3:4-5)

And so, when Rick Santorum makes some reference to his Christian faith,  he is pronounced “unelectable” by the mainstream.  When Christians rejects Mormonism as a Christian denomination, well, then Christianity is too intolerant and Christians are bigots.

BUT — wonder aloud if Barack Hussein Obama might really be a member of that great religion of peace and love that was hijacked by a few terrorists, and suddenly, BHO is more Christian than the Pope and YOU are a bigot and an infidel for even asking the question.

And soooo, here’s the deal.  Islam is a great religion of peace and love that has done wonderful things throughout its existence.  It is the source of great historical advances in medicine, hygiene, literature and science, according to its defenders, particularly among the mainstream media.

There is nothing wrong with being a Muslim — Muslims have contributed great things to the advancement of America.  I read that everywhere I turn, particularly, as previously mentioned, in the mainstream media.

And I hear it repeated from the podium of every US official every single time the issue comes up in the new.  Unless, of course, it is in the context of the President’s faith.  

THEN it is a racist, bigoted, slur. 

So now, the big question.  If America wasn’t a Christian country, would it even matter?

Cows

Cows
Vol: 126 Issue: 14 Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A new study reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine has concluded that the more red meat a person eats, the higher their chances of dying over the next twenty years.

“Red meat and especially processed red meat contains a lot of compounds and chemicals that have been linked to chronic disease risk,” said Frank Hu, at the Harvard School of Public Health and one of the study leaders.  

Research has suggested that the saturated fat and cholesterol in red meat is linked to plaque buildup in arteries, which increases the risk of heart disease, while cooking red meat produces more carcinogens.  A recent study said that eating more meat was associated with a greater risk of kidney cancer.  

Hu and his colleagues used data from two large, ongoing studies of US doctors and nurses who filled out regular questionnaires about their typical eating habits as well as physical activity, smoking and family history.  

The current report includes information from about 38,000 middle-aged men followed for an average of 22 years after their first survey and 84,000 women tracked for 28 years. 

Over the course of the study, about 24,000 of the participants died.  Hu and his team calculated that the chance of dying was 12% higher for every extra serving of red meat the men and women had eaten each day.  

Each extra serving was also tied to a 16% higher chance of dying from cardiovascular disease in particular, and a 10% chance of dying from cancer — even after taking into account other aspects of health and lifestyle that could influence the chance of dying, such as weight, smoking, the rest of their diet and socioeconomic factors.  

According to the study, eating even a small amount of red meat creates a significant risk of mortality.

And if they are right, based on the number of cows I’ve consumed over the course of my lifetime, I should be dead by the time you read this.

Assessment:

“I never saw a purple cow;
I never hope to see one.
But I can tell you anyhow,
I’d rather see than be one” – Mother Goose.

If we didn’t eat them, what would we do with cows?  Try and think of a secondary purpose for cows.

They would make lousy pets.  They don’t come when you call them, teaching one to sit up and beg could be fatal for both parties and they aren’t very good at “fetch.”

They are dumber than a bag of hammers, too slow and too wide across the back to ride comfortably, and an oxcart would take up too much room in a driveway.  They aren’t much in the way of companionship and you need a real big yard to feed them in. 

And believe me, the methane gas is not a cow’s worst by-product.  The average cow can produce about 150 lbs of cow poop every day.   And there are a lot of cows.   It is estimated that there are roughly 1.60 billion cows worldwide.  That is a lot of cow poop.

But we don’t really mind — as long as we get to eat them.  What else would we do with them?  (In India, they worship them.  And we all wish we lived there, don’t we? )

But unless you are comfortable praying that Elsie the Cow will help you get that job, or restore someone to fellowship or perhaps cure you of some terrifying disease, cow worship isn’t very satisfying.

Cow riding is only fun when the cow is mechanical. 

Petting a cow won’t really relax you like petting a dog or a cat will.  And forget about letting one sleep with you.  That’s why we eat them.  Can you imagine if we didn’t? 

There would be stray cows wandering around town.  We’d have to organize cow hunts. 

When did we start to eat cows?  

I mean, who was the first guy to look at a cow and say, “That looks delicious?”  (For that matter, who was the first guy to look at a cow’s udders and decide “I think I’ll squeeze those and drink whatever comes out of ’em?”)

According to Wikipedia, man has been domesticating (and eating) cattle since the Stone Age. The Bible lists cattle as being among the earliest forms of wealth. (Genesis 30:43, Joshua 22:8, 2 Chronicles 26:10, Jonah 4:11)

Not because they were good to ride or fun to race or made good pets or were really smart or because they were gods in disguise.  Cattle were considered a measure of wealth because they are good to eat.

They have always been good to eat.  We’ve been eating cows for as long as man has been on this earth. Now, suddenly, and after all these millennia, cows are dangerous?   According to those associated with this study, instead of eating beef, you should have a serving of nuts.

Nuts.  Honest.  That’s what they suggest.

“Eating a serving of nuts instead of beef or pork was associated with a 19 percent lower risk of dying during the study. The team said choosing poultry or whole grains as a substitute was linked with a 14 percent reduction in mortality risk; low-fat dairy or legumes, 10 percent; and fish, 7 percent.

Previous studies had associated red meat consumption with diabetes, heart disease and cancer, all of which can be fatal. Scientists aren’t sure exactly what makes red meat so dangerous, but the suspects include the iron and saturated fat in beef, pork and lamb, the nitrates used to preserve them, and the chemicals created by high-temperature cooking.”

Baloney.  (Which is also quite tasty, I might add.  Especially fried.)  Science ‘discovered’ beef’s insidious qualities at just about the same time that we ‘discovered’ global warming. 

Global warming alarmists say that cow, umm, emissions are overheating the planet.  Of course, since cows are little more than steaks and burgers being stored in a biological container until we’re ready to eat them, something had to be done to ruin the cow’s reputation.

We’ve written and discussed propaganda and how it operates in detail over the years, this is just another example of how easy it is to manipulate the masses.  The liberal media had gone “all in” on the premise that human activity is destroying the planet and the population is out of control.

They are united in their shared assessment that they have a mission to save us from ourselves, even if it means making stuff up if it advances their agenda.

The cow that has fed our families and the milk that nourished our children since Adam and Eve left the Garden has turned deadly.  No, wait.  It was always deadly.  We just didn’t know it until recently.

Cows.  Delicious, juicy, steaks and burgers, roasts and chops, slabs of ribs, beef stew . . . .  and if you eat one, you will die.  We just discovered it.  Honest.

Behold the power of propaganda!            

Older Clearly Doesn’t Always Mean Wiser

Older Clearly Doesn’t Always Mean Wiser
Vol: 126 Issue: 13 Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Back in 1970, children made up about one-third of the U.S. population, and only one-tenth were ages 65 and older.  Today, the proportion who are children has dropped to about one-fourth, while the share who are elderly has risen to 13 percent.

However, by 2050 fully one-fifth of the U.S. population will be ages 65 and older.

With the exception of 18 countries deemed ‘outliers’ by the UN, the rest of the world is aging at a rate unlike anything the world has ever seen.  The median age of the global population is older than at any time in human history.

(Ever notice how often we are recording events that qualify as a “first in human history?”) 

Anyway, according to the Wikipedia entry on population aging, the overall media age of the world’s population rose from 29. 0 in 1950 to 37.5 by 2000.  It is forecast to hit 45.5 by 2050.  

The 2006 StatsCan Census report found that the number of Canadians over age 65 increased by 11.5% in just five years.

“Of the total 32,973,546 Canadians, “the number of people aged 55 to 64, many of whom are workers approaching retirement, has never been so high in Canada, at close to 3.7 million in 2006.” At the same time, those younger than 15 years old make up only 17.7% of the population, another record-breaking low for Canadians. By 2022 it is predicted that “seniors will outnumber children in every province”, and by 2031 the median age will be 44.””

In 2000, approximately 605 million people worldwide were 60 years or older.  By 2050, that number is expected to be close to 2 billion.  At that time, seniors will outnumber children 14 and under for the first time in history.

In 2011, the oldest of the baby boomers, (those born in 1946) turned sixty-five.  America’s population is about to hit a tipping point, according to the US Population Bulletin.

By 1980, the proportion of the population ages 65 and older in the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Germany had already exceeded the level in the United States today. Between 1980 and 2010, the proportion ages 65 and older in the United States only increased by 2 percentage points, compared with a 14 percentage-point increase in Japan and a 7 percentage-point rise in Italy. However, the pace of population aging is projected to accelerate in the United States, Russia, U.K., France, Italy, and Germany in the next 30 years.

Conservative columnist Pat Buchanan marked the first anniversary of the devastating tsunami that scrubbed Japan’s shoreline and knocked out 52 of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors by observing that recovery from the tsunami is NOT Japan’s greatest challenge.

The gravest problem facing the Land of the Rising Sun is that it is dying. The sun that set on the Japanese Empire in 1945 has begun to set on the Japanese nation.

A week before the anniversary of 3/11, buried in a story about Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s effort to rally support for a doubling of the 5 percent consumption tax, to preserve Japan’s social security system, was this startling statement:

“We’re faced with an aging society and a declining birth rate unprecedented in the history of mankind.”

What makes this admission remarkable is that the Japanese are not given to hyperbole, and the prime minister’s statement is rooted in numbers that may fairly be called a “demography of death.”

The effects of an aging population on the global economy are devastating — we’re only just now beginning to feel some of the effects of it.  While older people may have accumulated higher savings per capita than their children, they are less likely to spend it on consumer goods. 

Old age pensions, which were designed for a population whose life expectancy extended only a couple of years past retirement age, cannot keep up with a population that routinely lives well into their eighties. 

Pension schemes like Social Security don’t accumulate contributions and then pay them back to retirees.  The money contributed today pays yesterday’s retirees.  People on Social Security today aren’t collecting what they contributed — that money is long gone. 

Instead, they are living off what today’s crop of workers think they are contributing towards their own future retirement.  The ratio of US workers to pensioners in 1960 was 5 to 1.  For every person collecting SSI, there were five people paying in.

By 2009 this ratio fell to 3 to 1.  Think of it.  Each American worker is now paying one-third of one retiree’s pension check.  That ratio is projected to hit 2 to 1 by 2030.  Where did everybody go?

We killed them.

Assessment:

According to the figures used in Buchanan’s piece about Japan, the Japanese population is expected to decline from 127 million to above 101 million by 2050.

“Every year between now and 2050,” he writes, “the number of deaths over births in Japan will average two-thirds of a million, with the population shrinkage accelerating each decade” 

Among the nations of the world with the highest percentage of oldsters are: Monaco, Japan, Germany, Italy, Greece, Sweden, Spain, Austria, Bulgaria and Estonia.  

Japan has the world’s highest concentration of elderly, despite the devastating losses the nation incurred during World War II.

These are also the countries that had the highest rates of abortion during the postwar period up to the collapse of the USSR, after which abortion rates began to decline in Eastern Europe. 

Today, the nations with the highest rate of legal abortions annually are Russia and the United States.  Close to half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended, and 40% of those end in abortion, according to figures cited by TIME Magazine.

Likewise, the U.S. abortion rates are disproportionately high: Rates in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands are less than half that in the U.S. — fewer than 10 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44.

With the two sides pulling in opposite directions, it’s hard to see how progress comes. Groups like Planned Parenthood have fought hard to expand access to contraception, such as Plan B, the “morning after pill,” which was finally approved for over-the-counter use in 2006. And they have fought for comprehensive sex education, which includes information about contraception as well as abstinence. A Guttmacher study in 2006 found that roughly “14% of the decline in teen pregnancy between 1995 and 2002 was due to teens’ delaying sex or having sex less often, while 86% was due to an increase in sexually experienced teens’ contraceptive use.”

Abortion has been legal for almost forty years in America.  What has it gotten us?  Using the current (and conservative) estimate of about one million abortions per year in America, that adds up to about forty million American workers currently NOT paying into Social Security.  

The greatest number of annual abortions took place in the 1970’s through the 1990’s, so there is a bit of irony here.  The Baby Boomer generation is about to retire and they killed off the generation that would have supported them in old age.

Right now, there is a national debate raging, fueled by the liberals, to increase access to contraception, on the premise that “girls should have the same opportunities as boys” according to Obama. 

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12 16:25)

The “way” referred to — twice — by Solomon is not that hard to figure out.  The Apostle Paul also wrote of it, outlining it in detail and describing it as the dominant worldview of the last days.

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

The Apostle John recorded Jesus’ description of the same liberal worldview this way:

“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:” (Revelation 3:15-17)

The news headlines of the day refer to it thusly: “How Do We End This War on Women?” written by the Washington Director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Watching recent events unfold, I’m left with only this question: How can we afford to look backward when we still have so far forward to go? Like Sandra Fluke and the women of Virginia, we must stay engaged and press on – for ourselves, our daughters, and our families. There is nothing less than our futures at stake.”

Agreed.  But the liberal ACLU’s remedy is to kill it.  It seems right to them.

The Rule of Lawlessness

The Rule of Lawlessness
Vol: 126 Issue: 12 Monday, March 12, 2012

Last week, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testified before Congress regarding the administration’s plans regarding the situation in Syria.   In his testimony, he openly rejected the Constitutional requirement that the Congress first give its approval before US forces are put into harm’s way.

“Our goal would be to seek international permission and we would come to the Congress and inform you and determine how best to approach this,” Panetta replied. “Whether or not we would want to get permission from the Congress, I think those are issues I think we would have to discuss as we decide what to do here.”

Read it through a couple of times — I did.  You have to read it a couple of times in order to believe what it is you are actually reading.  In the administration’s view, international permission is mandatory whereas Congressional approval is optional. 

In other words, if Obama has permission from the Arab League and the UN, Congressional approval is not necessary.  Just like they claimed wasn’t necessary in Libya.  

Secretary Panetta knows better.  He was himself a member of Congress and, in those days, fully aware of the division of powers and of the responsibilities the Constitution imposes on the Congress. 

So he KNOWS that the international community, whether the Arab League or the UN, has no legal authority to authorize the use of US military force. 

But according to MSNBC, it isn’t the administration that is confused about its authority — it is the Congress:

“With President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta not ruling out military action against Iran and Syria, Congress is once again trying to figure out its role in war making.”

Congress doesn’t have to “figure out” its role.  The role of the Congress is carefully spelled out by the Constitution.  But according to the view from the Left, the role of Congress is to rubber stamp Presidential war-making and get out of the way.   

Here is how the Left describes it when one of their own violates the Constitution in order to make war:

“Sometimes, as in the case of Libya, Congress votes too late on a resolution authorizing the president to use force. By the time the House voted on a resolution authorizing Obama to use force against Libya, he’d already ordered U.S. forces, as part of a NATO mission, to attack targets in that nation three months earlier.”

You see?  In this case, the Congress was too slow and it was NECESSARY to ignore them.  On the other hand, when it is a Republican President who he is seeking to obey the Constitution, well, in that case, the Congress is just too weak to stop him.

“Sometimes as in the case of invading Iraq in 2003, Congress votes to authorize an action the president made clear he was going to take anyway, no matter what Congress did.”

Moreover, argues MSNBC, a plan put forward by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to set a red line on Iran that would automatically trigger Congressional approval  would be an example of Congressional overreach:

“[McConnell] said passage of an authorization would ensure that “we have a coherent, unified policy toward Iran and that we not take on another military action without bipartisan support.  But even with the kind of vote McConnell envisions, “no Congress can force a president to launch a military strike he does not choose to launch.”

So Obama is right if he does and right if he doesn’t and the Congress is only right if it steps back and lets Obama tell it what its decisions ought to be.

Assessment:

Historically, democracies have not lasted long.  Imperial Rome’s democracy caused its collapse — historian Edward Gibbon described it as ‘bread and circuses’.  To maintain power, Caesar bought votes by ingratiating himself to the people with government handouts and by entertaining them in the coliseums.

When the people discovered they had the power to vote themselves welfare out of the Roman treasury, Imperial Rome soon spent itself out of existence.

Democracy functions according to the principle that the laws of the land reflect the will of the people.  No law can exist without the consent of the governed, and the governed, through their representatives, have the authority to create law as they see fit.

As such, democracies do not function under the rule of law; they are a law unto themselves.

The Greek democracy survived 241 years before finally collapsing.  Historians blame Athen’s fall on the people’s preference for leaders who promised rewards, played on superstitions, and otherwise appealed to baser instincts in order to gain power.

Unlike the Romans, Athenian democracy championed free speech.  Many Greek notables were horrified by the freedom of speech in Athens, which permitted the comic poets to make scurrilous attacks on public figures.

Others assailed democracy more insidiously by pointing out its weaknesses in practice.  The Assembly was called ‘fickle’ and ‘bloodthirsty’.  Athenian politicians came from the educated and wealthy classes, and were the inventors of class warfare as a political tactic.

The Founding Fathers, drawing lessons from the history of the world’s great democracies, crafted the US as a Constitutional Republic and NOT a democracy.  As we’ve seen, democracies don’t operate under the rule of law — the rule of law is as fluid as popular opinion.  Our Founders had an opportunity to establish a democracy in America and chose not to.

If the source of law for a democracy is the popular feeling of the people, then what is the source of law for the American republic?

According to Founding Father Noah Webster, the answer is simple:

“[O]ur citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct republican principles is the Bible, particularly the New Testament, or the Christian religion.” (Noah Webster, History of the United States (New Haven: Durrie & Peck, 1832), p. 6.)

“Blackstone’s Commentaries” have been the traditional final legal authority for Supreme Court decisions since Independence.  Blackstone explained the difference between a democracy and a Constitutional Republic was the source of its authority to govern:

“To instance in the case of murder: this is expressly forbidden by the Divine. . . . If any human law should allow or enjoin us to commit it we are bound to transgress that human law. . . .”(Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England (Philadelphia: Robert Bell, 1771), Vol. I, pp. 42.)

Washington is trying to export ‘democracy’ to the Middle East. So far, democracy has put Hamas in power in the Palestinian Authority.  It threatens to put Hezbollah in power in Lebanon.  It created an imbalance of power in Iraq that could ultimately result in civil war.

And efforts to tinker with the results of the election to correct the ‘ethnic imbalance’ is seen by its opponents as evidence of the corrupt nature of Western democracy.

America’s democracy, at 236 years old, looks very much like Thucydides’ Athens.  The principles of class warfare, buying votes by promising entitlements, playing on superstitions and otherwise playing ‘to the baser instincts’ of the population have been elevated to a form of governing called ‘partisanship’.

No matter what one side proposes, the other side accuses them of playing ‘partisan politics’ by employing one of the Athenian principles outlined in the previous sentence.

The ideological divide that destroyed Greek democracy was the consequence of free speech taken to its ultimate limit.  Rumor-mongering and false accusations destroyed the Greeks by destroying confidence in the system.

Ideological warfare at home resulted in Greek defeat on the battlefield.

Does anybody else see a pattern here?  The acclaimed 19th century philosopher Georges Santayana famously observed that, “those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it.”  George Bernard Shaw paraphrased it thusly: “One thing man learns from history is that man learns nothing from history.”

America was founded as a Constitutional Republic and bound itself to Divine Law by placing limits on the ‘rule of the people’.  Progressive liberalism has systematically whittled away at the foundations of the American rule of law until the ‘rule of law’ has lost all meaning. 

It’s been replaced by the rule of lawlessness.  The Bible calls it the musterion (mystery) of anomia (lawlessness).

I like to call it the “Obamanation” — it means the same thing.

The End Is Near — Where Can I Find a Hair Shirt?

The End Is Near — Where Can I Find a Hair Shirt?
Vol: 126 Issue: 10 Saturday, March 10, 2012

I was chatting this morning with our webmaster, Mike about some issues with the website, particularly the Yahoo! news feeds on the main page not working. Evidently new anti-piracy software interferes with legitimate feeds.

Goodbye, Yahoo news feed.

Our discussion soon turned toward the events of the day and how much more difficult it is becoming every day to keep from going over the same ground without sounding like a broken record.  Or a nutcase.

Because in a sense, I am the literary equivalent of the disheveled nutbar wearing a hair shirt and carrying a big cardboard sign warning everybody that it is time to “Repent! The End is Near!”  

How many ways are there to say; “Repent, the end is near?” 

So far, I’ve found there are 3,391 ways — today I am looking for Way # 3,392.  Because when you get right down to it, that’s what we do here.  We look for new examples that confirm our belief that the end is near. 

And new ways to explain, accurately, what that all means. 

Ok, so the end is near.  What must I do to repent?   The word “repent” as understood by our English speaking ears, means to feel sorry for a past action and to feel such remorse for that action as to change one’s ways.

When a preacher shouts from the pulpit about repenting of one’s sins, we hear, “confess your faults and change your ways while there is still time.”  That might even be what he intends to teach, but that isn’t what it means to ‘repent.’  

Because it is impossible to change all our ways in this life — we are born sinners with an inbred sin nature, living in a sin-sick world with other sinners.  If that kind of repentance is the way to salvation, nobody will make it.

The Latin term Poenitentiam agite is where we get our modern English understanding of the word “repent”  which translates as either “repent” or “do penance.”

The two oldest complete manuscripts of the Bible are the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinacticus.  The Codex Sinaiticus was a complete copy of the New Testament written in classical Greek uncial (all capitals). 

The Codex Sinaiticus was discovered by a German, Stanley Tischendorf in the 1840’s, and it dates to the 4th century AD.  Not to be outdone, the Vatican announced that it had its own Latin copy of the New Testament that also dated to the 4th century AD.

Both these codices differ from the Textus Receptus (Received Text) used by the translators of the King James Bible.  So there are huge differences between the three different translations. The oldest existing complete Textus Receptus dates to about the 10th century, some six hundred years after the other two codices.

For this reason, many scholars consider the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus to be far superior to the Textus Receptus.  That conclusion is reached primarily on the strength of the age of the two older manuscripts, although fragments dated earlier are more consistent with the T.R.

“Current scholarship considers the Codex Vaticanus to be one of the best Greek texts of the New Testament, with that of the Codex Sinaiticus as its only competitor. Until the discovery by Tischendorf of the Sinaiticus text, the Codex was unrivaled. It was extensively used by Westcott and Hort in their edition of The New Testament in the Original Greek in 1881.  The most widely sold editions of the Greek New Testament are largely based on the text of the Codex Vaticanus.”

This is one reason why the Catholic definition of ‘repent’ is different than the High Protestant definition of repent, which is different yet again from the non-denominational Christian understanding of what it means.

But the Bible wasn’t composed in English. Neither was it composed in Latin or classical Greek.  The New Testament was composed in Koine Greek — the universal language developed and imposed by Alexander the Great. 

But I am not making an argument for the superiority of the T.R over the CS/CV.   My intent is to explain the different understandings among Christians concerning what it means when somebody tells you to; “Repent, the end is near.”  It doesn’t mean — and it CAN’T mean, “Don’t sin, the end is near.”

 If that is what it meant, then, near or not, we’re all toast.

Assessment:

One notices right away the significant differences between the various versions tend to favor specific doctrines not found in others.  For example, neither the CS or CV include Acts 8:37.  

The Vatican’s doctrine on baptism is that babies that are baptized as babies can go to heaven, but babies not baptized cannot.

But according to Acts 8:37,  infant baptism is not Biblical.  In Acts Chapter 8, the evangelist, Phillip, encounters an Ethiopian reading from Chapter 53 of the Book of Isaiah.  The Bible’s account has the Ethiopian asking Phillip to help him understand what was he was reading. 

Acts 8 details the conversation that ensued, with the Ethiopian finally surrendering to Christ and asking to be baptized. 

The KJV, (translated from the TR) records the exchange thusly:

“And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” (Acts 8:36)

Look at the question being asked.  “Look! Here is a body of water. What prevents me from being baptized right here, right now?”

The Bible goes on to say that after being baptized, the Ethiopian went “on his way, rejoicing.”

One of our OL members is a police officer in Illinois. He is also an amazingly dedicated evangelist.  One day, he led a prisoner in the back seat of his patrol car to Christ.  The prisoner asked if he could be baptized before going to jail.

My friend pulled over at the shore of Lake Michigan and took his prisoner out into the cold waters of Lake Michigan and baptized him, right there, on the spot. And the prisoner went on his way to jail, rejoicing.

Both the Sinaticus and Vaticanus exclude Acts 8:37.   Now, look carefully at the verse that is omitted, keeping in mind the doctrine of infant baptism practiced by the Vatican and some High Protestant denominations:

“And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. ” (Acts 8:37)

Babies can’t believe. Neither can they confess.  So that verse had to go.

Now, we return to the issue of repentance and what it means in the original language of composition, rather than what it means in a translation of a translation. 

Repent doesn’t mean to change one’s ways — except in English.  Repent doesn’t mean to  “do penance” — except in Latin.

In Hebrew the word repent is nacham which means “change (one’s mind)” as in “the Lord repented of the evil which He thought to do” (Exodus 32:14) . 

In Koine Greek, the word repent (metanoeo) means “to think differently, reconsider.”  That is what our salvation is based on.  On our willingness to think differently about our sin, to reconsider our relationship with God, and upon our willingness to change our minds about our own goodness.

We cannot recognize the kingdom of God until we change the way we think.  When we change the way we look at things, it changes the things we look at. 

You don’t need a hair shirt and a sign to change your mind about having a right relationship with God.  You just need to change your mind.  And you need to do it real soon.

Because the end really IS near.

Things That Make You Go Hmmmmm

Things That Make You Go Hmmmmm
Vol: 126 Issue: 9 Friday, March 9, 2012

The San Antonio Independent School District received a complaint filed by San Antonio Edison against a rival school, Alamo Heights.  I suppose before going on, I should point out that this school district is located in San Antonio Texas, USA and not some other San Antonio. 

Anyway, Alamo Heights was celebrating a substantial victory over San Antonio Edison.  As Alamo Heights Coach Andrew Brewer was presented with the trophy, the team chanted “USA! USA! USA!”

That is when San Antonio Edison had enough!  They filed a complaint against Alamo Heights for the chant, which they took as a racial insult. 

(I DID mention this was in San Antonio Texas, USA and not some other San Antonio, didn’t I?  Good.)

Anyway, Alamo Heights immediately apologized for its students’ chant.

“Alamo Heights Superintendent Kevin Brown apologized and said students involved in the chanting won’t be allowed to attend the school’s semifinal game Thursday. Some Heights students involved are Hispanic, Brown added.”

Whoa!  Some of the students at Alamo Heights that were chanting USA! were Hispanic? While we are at it, what “race” is Hispanic? Is that Caucasian?  Asian?  Enquiring minds want to know. 

I wanted to know — so I looked it up.

“Hispanic/Latino Americans are very racially diverse, and as a result form an ethnic category, rather than a race.”

“Hispanic and Latino Americans are the largest of all the minority groups, but black Americans are the largest minority among the races, after white Americans, in general (non-Hispanic and Hispanic.)”

Ok, now I am really  confused. Hispanic Americans are “white” and they are an “ethnic minority” — but so are  Irishmen, Poles, Slavs, Russians or Norwegians.  Does that mean that chanting USA! should offend people from one of those ethnic backgrounds?

What is an Hispanic-American?  

“Mexican Americans, Cuban Americans, Colombian Americans, Dominican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Spanish Americans, and Salvadoran Americans are some of the Hispanic and Latino American national origin groups.

“There have been people of Hispanic or Latino heritage in the territory of the present-day United States continuously since the 1565 founding of St. Augustine, Florida, by the Spanish, the longest among European American ethnic groups and second-longest of all U.S. ethnic groups, after Native Americans. Hispanics have also lived continuously in the Southwest since near the end of the 16th century, with settlements in New Mexico that began in 1598, and which were transferred to the area of El Paso, Texas, in 1680.”

By any possible understanding or reading of history, America’s Hispanic population is as American as America’s other ethnic groups and is as much a “racial” group as America’s Irish population.  (Spain is a white European country, like Ireland)

But not according to the students at San Antonio Edison. To them, chanting “USA!” is a racial slur that demands an apology.  They’ve made no bones about what race they think they aren’t. 

Now to the next question. What nationality do they think they are?  

Assessment:

This is just one of the stories from this week that make me shake my head and say, “Huh?”  — there are others.   The Keystone Pipeline story is another that makes me wonder if I got trapped in an episode of the “Twilight Zone.”

Obama rejected the Keystone Pipeline despite the fact that gas prices have doubled on his watch and the Keystone Pipeline would have increased domestic supply by 800,000 bbls per day. 

The Obama administration denies that increased supply would have any effect on prices,  even as he considers tapping the Strategic Oil Reserve.  Why would we tap into the SOR?  To increase supply in order to lower prices — like he did last year.

“Last year the president released 30 million barrels of the reserve to manipulate prices and has yet to refill it. Releasing even more this year, again for political price-fixing purposes, only lessens our margin of protection should a true crisis hits.” 

The other day, Obama mocked the idea that he wants to see energy prices skyrocket during an election year during an exchange with White House reported Ed Henry.

But yesterday, despite blaming the Republicans for “playing politics” with the pipeline, Obama directly lobbied Senators to defeat a measure that would have shifted the approval authority over to Congress where it belongs.  

I agreed with Obama’s statement to Ed Henry.  Why would a sitting president facing re-election lobby to keep gas prices artificially high during an election year?  That is why Obama’s comment resonated with the mainstream media.

It doesn’t make any political sense for Obama to lobby against increasing the oil supply and bringing down gas prices. That only leaves two explanations.  The first is that Obama is such an ideologue that he would sacrifice a second term in order to advance his green policy.

The second possible explanation is either that he has a plan in the works to steal this election like he did the last one, or he has a plan that will allow him to postpone or cancel it in the name of national security.

Finally, there is this example of Obamanation economics at work. The Department of Energy announced a $10 million award, dubbed the “L Prize,” for any manufacturer that could create a “green” but affordable light bulb.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the prize would spur industry to offer the costly bulbs, known as LEDs, at prices “affordable for American families.” There was also a “Buy America” component. Portions of the bulb would have to be made in the United States.

The prize went to Phillips for its LED light bulb. According to the L Prize guidelines, manufacturers were “strong­ly encouraged to offer products at prices that prove cost-effective and attractive to buyers, and therefore more successful in the market.”

The target retail price, including rebates from utilities, for Phillips’ new LED bulb was to be $22 in the first year, $15 in the second year and $8 in the third year. 

Think twenty-two dollars is a bit expensive for a LIGHT BULB?  So do I. But not Secretary of Energy Chu.  He awarded the prize to Phillips and this week, Phillips new LED light bulb went on sale. 

Thanks to the $10 million dollar taxpayer subsidy, you won’t pay $22.00.  You won’t pay $15.00.  You won’t even pay $8.00.

But if you want the new government-subsidized, Phillips-produced, energy-efficient LED light bulb, you WILL pay FIFTY BUCKS per light bulb — courtesy of the Obama Department of Energy.  

(Hey! Is that Rod Serling?)

But nobody can say Obama broke every campaign promise. He promised to heal America’s racial wounds. And then, there was his promise about energy prices.

“Under my plan, energy prices will necessarily skyrocket.”

He’s keeping at least one of his promises.