Thursday, March 31, 2011

Evolution or De-Evolution




Which theory can best explain the facts? While evolution suggests upward progress – from the amoeba to humanity – creationism sees things going in the opposite direction, from a “very good” creation downward. Chemist and creationist, Bruce Malone, explains:

• Modern science has difficulty explaining why cells stop making perfect copies. This is because modern science assumes evolution to be a fact which requires a belief that we are increasing in complexity – evolving upwards. Therefore, cell reproduction should be getting better with time, not worse. Furthermore, if humans have been around for 1 million years (or more), then there have been over 20,000 generations of humans in existence. It is documented that every generation has between 100 and 1000 mistakes added to the DNA code. [John C. Stanford, Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome, Third Ed. 2008, 45-88] There is no possibility that the useful coded information content of the human genome could survive such a process for such a long time period. Thus the assumptions of evolutionary thinking blind researchers to understanding just how rapidly detrimental mistakes are building up and how recently the human DNA code was created.

Let’s just put aside the question of the age of humanity. Evolution should predict improvement over time; creationism should predict the opposite. We find deterioration not only in the human genome. There are other evidences of “de-evolution.” Here are several findings to consider:

• THE SECOND LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS: “Evolution is just plain unscientific. It violates the laws of chemistry including the second law of thermodynamics, the laws of probability, and information theory.” Eric Norman

• STAR BIRTH: “We have never seen a star born, but we have seen hundreds die.” Richard Kleiss

• NUMBERS OF SPECIES: “One-third of all known species [of birds] on the [Hawaiian] islands have become extinct within the last 1,500 years. Yet no new species of Hawaiian birds have developed over the same period…This evidence implies that the millions of different life forms on Earth could not have come from evolution, because creatures become extinct far faster than they could possibly evolve into new types.” Kleiss

• LANGUAGE: “If humans have evolved from less intelligent creatures, one would expect the earliest written languages to be the least complex. The opposite is true. The oldest languages are the most complex.” Kleiss

Is There Only One Way to God?


Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Probably the most offensive thing about the Gospel today is its “exclusivism” – that the Gospel excludes all other ways to God! During an Oprah broadcast, one woman charged that Christ is the only Way! Oprah responded, “I don’t see how there can be only one way!” (Rough Quote)

She might not have realized it, but she was plugging into a massive worldview debate – exclusivism/particularism (E/P) versus inclusivism/universalism (I/U). While the first position tends to define reality by particulars – particular people, truths, and places – the latter (I/U) places the emphasis on universal laws, morals, and the family of all humanity (sometimes even inclusive of all living things). In today’s culture, I/U has received such broad acceptance that the particularists cringe when we express our belief that salvation is through Christ and not through Buddha. In contrast, I/U usually asserts that there are an unlimited number of roads to salvation, the oneness of all humanity, and equal justice for all (although the fetus and the elderly are silently left out of this equation).

The predominance of I/U has been a long time in coming, and today it has become a philosophical tsunami within Western culture. Many trace this tsunami back to the Enlightenment. The devout Isaac Newton discovered that our universe operated according to universal laws. The philosopher J.K.S. Reid wrote (although this was never Newton’s intention):

• The physical universe could now be conceived independently without reference to a spiritual order outside it….The whole thing could quite well be construed as an intelligently designed machine. (Christian Apologetics)

However, as the enlightenment picked up speed, the inclusive universal laws began to be favored over the exclusive particulars of Christian revelation. Consequently, the philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) wrote,

• The role of revelation can be no more than very limited. It can offer nothing that is contrary to reason. (Reid)

Science and I/U were becoming more authoritative than Scripture. In response, many defenders of the Christian faith responded that Scripture is no less authoritative than science, and it is not contrary to reason, even if some of what has been revealed goes beyond our understanding. However, the tsunami continued to gain strength. Matthew Tindal (1655-1733) proclaimed,

• Nothing [beyond reason] can be requisite to discover true Christianity…to admit nothing to belong to it except what our reason tells us to be worthy of having God for its author.

According to Tindal, reason, apart from Scripture, was now the ultimate arbiter of truth. Why such a dogmatic position? Since the physical world could now be understood in terms of impressive universal physical laws, the moral/spiritual world shouldn’t be any different! To have any authority, Christianity’s moral claims had to conform to the methods and nature of science.

A new religion – Deism – was created by the “enlightened,” based upon these “insights.” Although God had created the world, He now governed it by universal laws. There was no need for particular miraculous interventions. He had wound the clock and was now merely sitting back to watch the hands move.

Many of our Founding Fathers embraced Deism. Thomas Jefferson famously created his Jefferson Bible by eliminating the particulars – the miracles – which didn’t fit into his Deist orthodoxy.

Riding the wave of the tsunami, the skeptical philosopher David Hume argued that even if miracles did occur, they would be impossible to prove:

• We may establish it as a maxim that no human testimony can have such a force as to prove a miracle…I say that a miracle can never be proved so as to be the foundation of a system of religion. (Reid)

For Hume, the universal and repeatable would always take precedence over the anomalous particulars. Consequently, the particulars of Christian revelation had been banished to the inferior world of faith. According to R.C. Sproul, the philosopher Emmanuel Kant put the final nail into the Christian coffin of revealed particulars, expelling Christianity from its dominant position within the university:

• Kant tried to demonstrate…that it is impossible to know God intellectually or to prove His being. While it has always been realized that humankind could not comprehend God fully, Kant was saying that humans can’t know Him, even partially. (Classical Apologetics)

Consequently, the particular and “unprovable” truths of Christianity were further expelled from the domain of “fact” to the blind and uncertain domain of “faith.” The broad acceptance of Kantian thought meant that I/U would further dominate E/P, the certain over the uncertain. As light dominates the darkness, what is certain will always dominate the uncertain. As a result, science and its testable and measurable universal laws had now attained preeminence over the intellectual life of the West.

Of course, Christians countered that the historical and theological assertions of the Bible are just as much a matter of fact as are the findings of science, but the West had already been won by the Enlightenment and its I/U worldview. The implications of this shift have been leavening Western thought ever since.

Even within the church, it often seems to predominate. Recently, in an interview, Emergent Church guru, Brain McLaren, censured the church for its “Christian elitism.” According to enlightenment I/U thinking, there should be no room for exclusive truth claims about one way, one man and His crucifixion. Consequently, I/U is a message that seems to be increasingly more appealing, especially among the younger generation, among whom I/U has been strenuously pushed.

For these youth, any assertion of E/P – “we’re in and you’re out” – smacks of elitism, pomposity, and detestable privilege. Any mention of the “saved” and “unsaved” is utterly offensive. Particularistic reasoning has been increasingly discarded from any question of human rights. For example, convicted prisoners should have the same rights as anyone else. Children should have the same liberties as their parents. Gay couples should have the same rights to marry as have heterosexual couples. In such a cultural climate, Christianity is either automatically ruled out or modified in a way acceptable to I/U.

However, E/P and I/U aren’t mutually exclusive.
They can and must abide together. The particulars must embrace the universals. Ironically, it is the Biblical revelation that provided the necessary basis for the moral universals (and even the scientific universals), asserting that we have inestimable value because we’re created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). The notion of human equality is not, nor can it be, the product of reason and science. By virtue of observations and measurements, humans are very different. Some make positive contributions; some make negative. Even when we regard humanity according to their most prominent characteristics – intelligence, creativity, and morality – some animals have more of these than do some humans. Some animals are more intelligent than newborn babies and certainly more capable. Should they therefore be valued more than humans? If the Bible is not received as the revelation of God, there is no compelling reason why this shouldn’t be the case.

E/P is also a fundamental and inseparable part of humanity and life. We marry one wife, not everyone. Our commitment is to one woman and not all. Our children are ours and not the property of the State or the world. We have primary responsibility for them.

To try to impose universals where particulars have their domain is to violate reality. I lived in Israel for two years and resided in a number of Kibbutzim of the radical Hashomer Hatziar movement. These are collective, socialistic communities. I was surprised to find out that some of the older communities had practiced a radical form of socialism at their beginnings. They believed that marriage was an illegitimate form of ownership. A woman shouldn’t be the exclusive property of any one man. Likewise, the children shouldn’t be any more the property of the couple who sired them but of the community. However, in no case did this experiment survive. The reality of particularism (E/P) was simply too much to overcome. This has also been the experience of the many communes that have arisen in the West.

It should also be noted that, from a Biblical perspective, it is the particularism of exclusive relationships that birth universals and inclusiveness. It is our relationship with our Savior that enables us to embrace those further away, starting with our responsibilities to our parents, children and church, but then reaching beyond them. It is because I value my particular circumstances that I can empathize with those of others. It is the particularism of Scripture that gives us the universal of the essential equality of all humankind before God.

In fact, you can’t have universals without particulars. For the Abrahamic religions, it starts with the one particular – God. And then, while all humanity fell because of the first man, humanity will be saved through another Person (1 Cor. 15:21-22). Further, it is by virtue of our relationship with the Particular that we can and should embrace all people as our “neighbors.” Children arise from particular relationships, not abstract universal, inclusive principles.

For the naturalists, it starts with a particular explosion from a singularity, and they continue to attempt to find the one principle or formula that will unite all else.

God also starts relationally and personally with selected particular people and, from there, works outward in an I/U direction. He chose Israel, but this was also in anticipation of His outreach to the Gentile nations. He then individually chose those of His church, but instructed them to,

• …go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
(Matthew 28:19-20)

What is the matter if there is only one way? Oprah rejects this idea in favor of multiple ways. Many dogmatically insist that I/U is the only possible ideal. Is this insistence the product of reason or a worldview tsunami?

In contrast, the Biblical genius is that it starts with a particular relationship and proceeds out from there. Jesus is the light of the world, and so we too must take that light out into the world:

• Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
(Matthew 16:24)

The Roots of Genocide




Genocide doesn’t suddenly appear. A foundation for the extermination of one people by another requires extensive preparation. Daniel Goldhagen, author of Hitler’s Willing Executioners, has an intense interest in genocide. His father was a Holocaust survivor. He recently produced a documentary on genocide, Worse than War. He too insists that you don’t need a telescope to see genocide coming. Its clamorous march is unmistakable.

It starts with the systematic denigration of a certain group of people – whether Jews, Gypsies, or Tutses. Once they become demeaned in the minds, they soon will be victimized by demeaning actions. If they are held in contempt in our minds, they will soon be hated through our spit and fists.

• Volunteers from the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property (TFP) visited Brown University during their statewide tour for traditional marriage in Rhode Island on March 23. While peacefully demonstrating on the Ivy League campus, their pro-family banner was vandalized and a volunteer was spat upon in the face. March 30, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com)

According to TFP Student Action Director John Ritchie.

• “Dozens of pro-homosexual students screamed, spat, taunted, and even attempted to destroy our traditional marriage banner…Suddenly, a loud thud-rip noise was heard. I looked up and saw a pro-homosexual student literally crashing through our traditional marriage banner, attempting to destroy it. Running at top speed, he flung himself into it and ripped one side loose. Some students watching from a distance approvingly cheered the act of violence… Seeing the violent attitude of the pro-homosexual students, the police wanted to escort us to our vans after the campaign was over to protect us. And thank God they did, because when we pulled away from the curb, many pro-homosexual students closed in to hit the sides of our vehicles with their fists or palms. A hard object, maybe a rock, was even thrown against one of the vans.”

Why the violence? The traditional-marriage group wasn’t promoting something new, something that would radically undermine a way of life that we have grown to respect and love. They were merely championing something that had been universally accepted. Nor were their means violent, coercive or even disruptive. Had they been demonstrating in favor of Hitler or a terroristic organization, such student conduct might be easier to understand.

Nor do I think that Brown and other universities will require student to go for awareness or sensitivity training in response to their violent conduct. Nor will seminars on the virtues of necessity of free speech be provided. The absence of these forms of remediation will be indicting evidence that the persecution of conservative Christians is more than acceptable. Instead, had it been a demonstration in favor of women’s rights, the matter would have been handled entirely differently.

Why this violent conduct in regards to a prosaic pro-family demonstration? We should hardly expect violence in regards to a demonstration in favor of having more children or eating a more natural diet! Violence doesn’t spring out of a vacuum. Its legitimacy and justification must be carefully established. Students don’t just rush to violence and then laugh at their unacceptable conduct unless there is already a sizable well-respected group that they believe will honor them for it. And there is!

The university has long heaped their undeserved scorn upon conservative Christians. Their bias has become so passé that they can talk openly among themselves about not hiring or granting tenure to Evangelicals as the recent rejection by the University of Kentucky of Martin Haskell’s employment application has made very apparent.

In a survey of non-Evangelical professors conducted about five years ago by a Jewish group, it was found that 53% of the faculty admitted that they had negative attitudes towards Evangelicals – far more than towards Muslims. This is in stark contrast to their negative attitudes to Jews (3%) and Buddhists (4%). This disparity is shocking, and it is perfectly understandable that their antipathy would find expression in their teaching.

Secular humanism is the religion enthroned on the college campus. We find this bias infused within many textbooks. One claims that secular humanism,

• "reflects the Enlightenment's emphasis on rationality, science, and personal effort rather than blind faith in supernatural powers…Among the tenets of humanist philosophy:

1. A faith in human intelligence and abilities.
2. A commitment to democracy and civil liberties.
3. A belief in the importance of, if not the divine origin, of the Ten Commandments and of the ideals of social equity, the community of humankind, and world peace.
4. Opposition to all theories of predestination, divine determination, and fatalism.
5. Compassionate concern for all human beings.”

• "These are the beliefs that conservative Christians in the United States fear being taught to their children." (Sociology, p. 400)

There’s no appreciation of the fact that equality and democracy arose within a Biblical context. This imbalance might be partially explainable by virtue of the lack of Evangelicals in academia. Recently, Jonathan Haidt, a moral psychologist, University of Virginia,

• polled his audience at the San Antonio Convention Center, starting by asking how many considered themselves politically liberal. A sea of hands appeared, and Dr. Haidt estimated that liberals made up 80 percent of the 1,000 psychologists in the ballroom. When he asked for centrists and libertarians, he spotted fewer than three dozen hands. And then, when he asked for conservatives, he counted a grand total of three.

Of the three conservatives, we can only wonder if any were Evangelicals. And even if all three of them are Evangelicals, they most likely lead a closeted existence within the hostile university atmosphere.

The media has also proved hostile and demeaning to Christians, consistently portraying them in a negative light. In a recent NPR expose, the CEO was not at all hesitant to speak negatively of social conservatives, even among those who identified themselves as part of the Muslim Brotherhood. This openness reflects the fact that contempt for social conservatives is endemic within the industry. It’s often expressed in terms of what mainstream media will report and what it won’t report. When Sarah Palin made an innocuous comment about getting someone in the cross-hairs of her scope, the media wouldn’t let go of it. However, more explicit death wishes, when made by liberals, get a free-pass:

• “Rush Limbaugh is beginning to look more and more like Mr. Big, and at some point somebody’s going to jam a CO2 pellet into his head and he’s going to explode like a giant blimp. That day may come. Not yet, but we’ll be there to watch.” — Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Morning Meeting, Oct. 13, 2009.

• “So, Michele, slit your wrist! Go ahead! I mean, you know, why not? I mean, if you want to — or, you know, do us all a better thing. Move that knife up about two feet. I mean, start right at the collarbone.” – Montel Williams talking about Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) on Air America’s Montel Across America, Sept. 2, 2009.

While the mainstream media has reported copiously about the genocide against Muslims in Darfur, it has totally neglected the decade-long genocide against the largely Christian southern Sudan which has left 2 million dead. While mainstream media reported on the Myanmar military regimes crackdown on its Buddhist monks, it has been silent on the decades-long genocide against the largely Christian Karen and Karenni peoples in the north. Brent Bosell of Newsbusters.org, reports about this systematic imbalance:

• Christians getting slaughtered and maimed in the Middle East by radical Islamists during the Christmas season. That story rates barely a media eyebrow lift. On Christmas Eve in Nigeria, AP reported that Danjuma Akawu, secretary of Victory Baptist Church in the city of Maidiguri, charged that a mob of about 30 men attacked his church on Christmas Eve, killing five people, including the pastor, two choir members rehearsing for a late-night carol service and two passersby. He said the attackers came in three cars and dragged the pastor out of his house before shooting him to death. They drove off after setting the church and pastor's house on fire. On the other end of the same city, a security guard was shot and killed at a Church of Christ. Network coverage? Katie Couric’s CBS aired nothing. Neither did ABC.

• This is a pattern. On Halloween, 58 were killed at a Catholic church in Baghdad, as Islamic radicals took church members hostage during Mass and executed the priests. ABC, CBS , and NBC aired little anchor briefs, yet managed to put the weight of scrutiny on Iraqi government forces for attempting to storm the church and defeat the radicals. On New Year’s Eve, the New York Times reported from Baghdad on a cluster of 10 bomb attacks in which two people were killed and 20 wounded, all of them Christians. One week after an Islamic extremist group vowed to kill Christians in Iraq, the bombs were placed near the homes of at least 14 Christian families around the city. The networks didn’t find that compelling, either.
On 2/15/11, LifeSiteNews.com reported that according to the estimates of Aid to the Church in Need

• …as many as 170,000 Christians are killed out of hatred for their beliefs around the world each year, largely in Muslim dominated countries.

Why is the mainstream media silent about this genocide? Why the systematic imbalance in reporting? Perhaps the secular humanistic elites would rather portray Christians as the persecutors rather than the persecuted. Persecutors are scorned; the persecuted are pitied. Perhaps the mainstream media detests Christianity to such a degree that they want to disparage it and its message. Clearly, they have their favorites. While TV consistently portrays gay characters in a favorable light, Christians are portrayed as biased hate-mongers, small-minded, and homophobic.

Christians are so consistently degraded as “homophobic” that many now are arguing in favor of curtailing our right of free speech. And this is just what is happening. While the media will view much programming in favor of homosexual marriage, the traditional stance is seldom if ever heard. Meanwhile, the media asks the rhetorical question, “Why are Christians so opposed to gays?” without ever giving a Christian a chance to fully respond.

The New Hate Crimes legislation, signed into effect last year, not only criminalizes the action itself, but also speech that can possibly be construed to lead to a hate crime. An amendment to this bill that would exempt religious speech was defeated. Consequently, we now hear more talk about the Bible itself as “homophobic!” And since we are “homophobic,” the media can more conveniently justify not showing the increasing victimization of Christians

• Days after the videotaped incident [at Brown] was posted on YouTube, the video sharing website pulled down the footage, leaving a message stating: “This video has been removed because its content violated YouTube’s Terms of Service.”

Unbalanced reporting serves propaganda better than outright lies. The media remains silent regarding to such hate crimes, favoring instead their own causes and victims. Some are presented as the good guys worthy of our compassion, while others aren’t. I’m not saying that the systematic denigration of Christians and the accompanying refusal to air anything that might put Christians in a favorable light will lead to genocide, but this is how genocide begins. Besides, this discrimination is taking place in a culture that prides itself on tolerance and justice. Should not this hypocrisy be exposed?

However, to put it all in historical context, hating Christians is to be expected as Jesus had warned:

• "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.” (John 15:18-20)

• "All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.” (John 16:1-2)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Peace of Mind is Peace with Scripture




Peace of mind largely depends on peace and harmony of thought (Col. 2:2-3). You can’t find cognitive peace and rest as long as your mind obsesses among several conflicting thoughts. Of course, I’m not talking about the higher, more esoteric questions – “Is light a wave or particles?”

We also ponder these more esoteric questions within the corpus of Christian revelation. How can the Trinity be one God and yet three persons? I’m not talking about these irreconcilable questions either, but rather those that profoundly impact our lives on a daily basis – “Is punishment or even a harsh word ever justified” or “Is genocide wrong?” These questions not only require down-to-earth answers. They also permeate so much of our decision-making and even what we think about ourselves and others.

Perhaps even closer to home are questions and doubts about our relationship with God. Can we be sure that He loves, forgives, and accepts us? While many verses give us this assurance, there seems to remain certain verses that tend to undermine our assurance. For example, let’s take several from 1 John:

• 1 John 3:6 No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.

• 1 John 5:18 We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him and the evil one does not touch him. (NASB)

John seems to be saying that if we sin, we are not God’s. This is a terrifying thought, especially for the one whose hope rests exclusively in God. While I knew that we are saved by grace through faith without any consideration of my moral performance (Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7; Romans 3:27), I was still plagued with doubts. Perhaps God saved me without my deserving it at all, but perhaps now He required moral perfection in order to stay saved? Although this doubt didn’t sound right to me, I couldn’t absolutely dismiss it. Its accusing finger regularly appeared in my face.

This, however, didn’t seem to be the message of Scripture, which consistently asserted that we stood before God by grace, since no one could ever be good enough:

• Psalm 130:3-4 If Thou, LORD, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared.

• Psalm 143:2 And do not enter into judgment with Thy servant, for in Thy sight no man living is righteous.

I also began to find the same assurances in the New Testament:

• Romans 3:19-20 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

Paul himself confessed that he continued to struggle with sin:

• Romans 7:25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

• Galatians 5:17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.

And Paul wasn’t alone in confessing the fact that he hadn’t arrived morally. James also admitted that “we all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2). I therefore was able to comfort myself that I was in good company. Besides, when I read about the Apostles, I found that they too continued to struggle against sin.

I was beginning to grow in confidence and peace of mind, but I continued to be troubled by John’s statements. However, at closer examination, I came to conclude that John couldn’t have possibly have meant that sinlessness was a necessary sign of salvation. For one thing, he claimed that anyone who said to be without sin was a liar (1 John 1:8, 10). “Anyone” includes even those who are saved!

Furthermore, he reached out to offer the very hope that we all, who struggle with sin, so desperately need:

• 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

This suggests that sin doesn’t damn us, but gives us an occasion – many of them – to enjoy anew the grace of God each time we confess our sins to Him, thereby instructing us of His love and patience with us. Nevertheless, as a doubter by nature, I continued to obsess over the two verses that continued to condemn me from His loving assurances.

As I continued to study, I found other reasons to dismiss my two “accusers.” In other verses, John demonstrated that there was on-going forgiveness for people, like me, who continued to struggle with sins:

• 1 John 5:16-17 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.

John assures us that the sinning brother would receive forgiveness and “life.” Sin was a continuing reality, even for the “brother.” (Scholars have long disagreed about the “sin leading to death.” It seems that the easiest way to understand this is in terms of a sin that a “brother” continues to refuse to repent – the sin that should also excommunicate him. Although we should continue to pray for such a brother, we should not pray that he is healed until he repents.)


It is after these two verses that one “accuser” appears: “No one born of God sins.” However, this present active verb can also be translated “anyone born of God does not CONTINUE to sin” 1 John 5:18; NIV). Seen in this light, it is not the sin that precludes salvation but the refusal to repent of sin and willingly continue in it. And this refusal is something antithetical to true faith, which rejects the former life of sin and wants to follow God.

While the wisdom of the Reformation proclaimed that we are saved by grace through faith alone – sola fide – it also proclaimed that such a faith is not alone, because it would give rise to a changed life.

I then confronted my first “accuser” to find that it too lacked the killing venom. Let’s examine the larger context:

• 1 John 3:4-9 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, let no one deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning.

Once again, I found that the problem wasn’t a matter of falling into sin, but instead the unrepentant “practice” of sin, something that even paralleled the devil’s own practice and delight in sin. In contrast to this, I could now easily see that the one who “practices righteousness” is not necessarily the one who is sinless, but the one who strives against the practice of sin and who is cleansed as he repents (1 John 1:9). Likewise, our victory isn’t a matter of achieving sinlessness, but of receiving a true faith in God (1 John 5:4).

I felt myself delivered, at least from that struggle, and brought one step closer to assurance and the peace of mind that I so desperately sought. No wonder that Scripture tells us to meditate on the Word day and night (Psalm 1)! There is no more blessed practice!

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Spiritual World: Proof of Dualism



Is the mind and consciousness no more than a complicated hunk of matter. According to T. Huxley (1871), that’s all it is:

• “Mind or consciousness is a function of matter when that matter has attained a certain degree of organization.”

More recently, the acclaimed biologists Edward O. Wilson made a similar claim:

• “Conscious experience is a physical and not a supernatural phenomenon.”

More candidly, the atheist and Darwinist Michael Ruse wrote:

• Why should a bunch of atoms have thinking ability? Why should I, even as I write now, be able to reflect on what I am doing and why should you, even as you read now, able to ponder my points, agreeing or disagreeing, with pleasure or pain, deciding to refute me or deciding that I am just not worth the effort? No one, certainly not the Darwinian as such, seems to have any answer to this…The point is that there is no scientific answer.

But can science shed any light on this question? Can our exploration of the physical world give evidence for the spiritual? The dualistic claim is that the spiritual mind can plug into the physical brain much as sound and sight waves plug into a television to produce programming. Interestingly, the founders of modern neuroscience were dualists:

• Dualism reigned unchallenged in Western thought until recent times, and the founders of modern neuroscience, Charles Sherrington, Wilder Penfield, and John Eccles, were all dualists (Dinesh D’Souza, Life After Death: The Evidence, 108)

Penfield would electrically stimulate the brain but noted that there were responses that seemed to be extra-physical:

• Penfield would stimulate electrically the proper motor cortex of the conscious patents and challenge them to keep one hand from moving when the current was applied. The patient would seize this hand with the other hand and struggle to hold it still. Thus one hand under the control of the electrical current and the other hand under the control of the patient’s mind fought against each other. Penfield risked the explanation that the patient had not only a physical brain that was stimulated to action but also a nonphysical reality that interacted with the brain. (Lee Edward Travis)

Penfield found that his patients could distinguish between responses that had been electrically stimulated from those self-stimulated:

• Invariably the patient would respond, by saying, “I didn’t do that. You did…No matter how much Penfield probed the cerebral cortex, he said, “There is no place…where electrical stimulation will cause a patient to believe or to decide.” That’s because those functions originate in the conscious self, not the brain. A lot of subsequent research has validated this. When Roger Sperry and his team studied the differences between the brain’s right and left hemispheres, they discovered the mind has a causal power independent of the brain’s activities. This led Sperry to conclude materialism and false. (J.P. Moreland, interviewed by Lee Strobel, Case for the Creator, 258)

If the brain is entirely a physical entity, we should expect that every type of mental activity could be stimulated, but this isn’t the case. In fact, the very notion of freewill contradicts materialism. It affirms the fact that our choices aren’t totally determined by chemical-electrical responses.

The freewill problem is so daunting for the materialist – if everything is matter and energy, there is no room for freewill, something self-initiated – they often opt to deny its reality. Biologist E.O. Wilson writes:

• The hidden preparation of mental activity gives the illusion of free will.

Illusion? If freewill is an illusion, so too is the entirety of our lives. In this regard, D’Souza writes:

• If there is no free will, the entire literature of Western civilization becomes incomprehensible, because every single character from Oedipus to Gatsby was merely acting in response to uncontrolled brain states…Hitler can’t be blamed for killing Jews. Abraham Lincoln operated under a delusion when he declared slavery wrong, and Southern slaveholders were not guilty of buying and selling human beings…If that presumption [freewill] is wrong, all those institutions are a sham and the whole structure of modern society should be revised. (139-40)

To deny dualism is to deny freewill; to deny freewill is to deny every supporting rationale of human civilization. Materialism comes at a prohibitively high price. It also requires the denial of near-death-experiences (NDE).

Raymond Moody published Life After Life in 1975 based upon 150 interviews with people who had claimed NDEs. Cardiologist and assistant professor at Emory University School of Medicine, Michael Sabom, had been highly skeptical. However,

• Over a five year period he interviewed and compiled data on 116 persons who had had a close brush with death. Of these, 71 reported one form or another of near-death experience…Sabom conducted extended interviews with the ten who had detailed recollections, either of resuscitations or surgery. The results were astonishing. In every case, the accounts jibed with standard medical procedures; moreover, where medical records were available, the records of the procedures and the accounts of the patients perfectly matched. In all of these cases, [unconscious] patients observed details that they could not possibly have observed from their physical vantage point. (Patrick Glynn, God: The Evidence, 103-104)

Due to reported out-of-body-experiences, some of the subjects were even able to report what was transpiring in the next room. If even some of these many accounts can be trusted, they argue very persuasively for an extra-material existence.

When one’s religion or paradigm requires the denial of so many phenomena, it might require the infusion of some fresh air or at least a read of Psalm 139:

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. (Psalm 139:14)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Credibility of the Four Canonical Gospels




Are our four Gospel writers – Matthew Mark, Luke and John – credible? Not according to one atheist:

• The authors show little to no regard for historicity, their main focus being theology. You do realize that even the best historians of the day "made things up" to fit the narrative they were writing, put words in the mouths of their characters, etc? You treat the Gospels as if they are somehow separate from the era they were written, and make use of something approaching modern historical methods. This would be a mistake on your part.

On the contrary, there a numerous reasons to regard their Gospels as highly credible! In order to build this case, I’ll use the categories used by professional historians to establish credibility.

SIMILARITY.
If the Gospels are credible, they should accurately reflect the language of Jesus as an early 1st century Jew living in Israel. And this is exactly what we find. The Jesus of the Gospels didn’t use Greek expressions but Aramaisms, reflecting the common usage of His day: “Son of Man,” “Abba.” Jesus’ dialogues also reflect the way that the Rabbis of His time spoke. He often spoke in Hebrew parallelisms, unlike the early church. Also, His understanding of the Old Testament was uncannily accurate and penetrating. Consequently, E. P. Sanders wrote,

• Jewish scholars do not find any substantial points of disagreement between Jesus & his contemporaries.

DISSIMILARITY. If Jesus’ teachings and actions don’t reflect the interests and the thinking of the early church and those who wrote the Gospels, then it is likely that the Gospel accounts weren’t invented but represent genuine history.

1. JESUS’ PARABLES. They do not reflect the writings of the Church Fathers. They are difficult to understand, humbling, and hard to apply. Sometimes, they are even humanly offensive. They are not soft-and-fuzzy. They do not warm the heart. They are not designed to add numbers to the church or to win the hearts of the leadership. If anything, they achieve the very opposite. There is no reason why anyone would want to invent these parables, even if they could.

2. JESUS’ PROPHETIC TEACHINGS. They often represented an embarrassment and a paradox for the early church. They were also seemingly seditious – Jerusalem would be destroyed. They also contained a creative tension, contrary to the way that everyone else taught. His Kingdom was already here, but it really was yet to come.

3. JESUS’ DIFFICULT SAYINGS. “Turn the other cheek,” “Cut off your hand,” “Pluck out your eye,” “Give to anyone who asks.” At first glance, the common person would think these sayings ignorant and undoable. Therefore, it wouldn’t suit the interests of the early church to invent such sayings.

These sayings were also impossible to follow and highly discouraging: “Sell all you have,” “Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,” “Don’t do your good deeds before mean to be seen by them.”

Some of Jesus’ saying seemed to be self-disparaging – not the type of message that the early church would want to convey, if they were trying to win followers: “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” “If there be any other way, take this cup [crucifixion] from Me,” “Not even the Son of man knows.”

The Crucifixion itself represented the greatest embarrassment. It was a shameful, humiliating death. Why would anyone want to follow a crucified criminal! Of course, the Gospels redeemed this portrait with a Resurrection. But a resurrection could easily be disproved, especially one witnessed by thousands over a 40 days period.

4. JESUS’ RADICAL ASSOCIATIONS: While His followers demonstrated the predictable respect for money, status, and power, Jesus eschewed such associations in favor of society’s outcasts. This often represented an embarrassment to His disciples.

5. JESUS’ DISCIPLES. They are consistently portrayed in the Gospel accounts as sinners who consistently fail to understand Jesus’ message. Such disparaging portraits wouldn’t have reflected the interests of the early church in presenting the Gospel message as believable or appealing. Instead, the normal human tendency would have been to present the disciples as role models who would inspire others to follow.

Besides this, there is credible historic testimony that almost all these disciples died the death of martyrs, refusing to recant their testimony, even when such recantation would have saved their lives.

EXTERNAL VERIFICATION
. The Gospel accounts show an uncanny agreement with the archeological evidence:

1. Archeologist John McRay: “One prominent archeologist carefully examined Luke’s references to 32 countries, 54 cities, and 9 Islands w/o finding a single mistake.” (Lee Strobel, Case For Christ)

2. NT Scholar F.F.Bruce: “A man whose accuracy can be demonstrated in matters where we are able to test it is likely to be accurate even where means of testing aren’t available. Accuracy is a habit of mind…Luke’s record entitles him to be regarded as a writer of habitual accuracy.”

3. McRay: “It [the Pool of Bethesda] lies maybe 40 feet below ground – and sure enough, there are five porticoes…exactly as John had described. And you have other discoveries – the Pool of Siloam from John 9:7, Jacob’s Well from John 4:12, the probable location of the Stone Pavement near the Jaffa gate where Jesus appeared before Pontius Pilate in John 19:13, even Pilate’s own identity – all of which have lent credibility to John’s Gospel.”

4. McRay: “Archeology has not produced anything that is unequivocally a contradiction to the Bible. On the contrary, as we’ve seen, there have been many opinions of skeptical scholars that have become codified into ‘fact’ over the years, but that archeology has shown to be wrong.”

5. NT Scholar Craig Blomberg: “Whether by giving the Gospels the benefit of the doubt which all narratives of purportedly historical events merit or by approaching them with initial suspicion in which every detail must satisfy the criteria of authenticity, the verdict should remain the same. The Gospels may be accepted as trustworthy accounts of what Jesus did and said.” (“The Historical Reliability of the Gospels”)

MULTIPLE ATTESTATION.
Credibility is further established by the number of witnesses testifying to the same facts. Not only do the four Gospels testify to the same Jesus and the same facts, but the rest of the NT agrees. Among these testimonies were the testimonies of ardent disbelievers who later came to believe – Paul, James and Jude – even after the “debacle” of the Crucifixion.

In addition to these testimonies, all of the Church Fathers are in agreement. Even the Gnostic philosophers had formed their own canons of scripture from NT books instead of their own Gnostic gospels! While we have no evidence that any of them ever wrote a commentary on a Gnostic gospel, they did write commentaries on at least one Gospel, the Gospel of John, although from a very different point of view. All of this tends to validate the credibility of our four Gospels. Even the agnostic professor of religion, Bart Ehrman, reluctantly admits,

• The oldest and best sources we have for knowing about the life of Jesus…are the four Gospels of the NT…This is not simply the view of Christian historians who have a high opinion of the NT and in its historical worth; it is the view of all serious historians of antiquity…it is the conclusion that has been reached by every one of the hundreds (thousands, even) of scholars. (“Truth and Fiction in the DaVinci Code,” p. 102)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Links between Pornography and Sex Trafficking




By Robert Peters, President of Morality in Media
Free the Captives: Houston Human Trafficking Conference
February 26, 2011


Bob might well be the leading expert on this subject. However, with his approval, I removed the first page of this excellent article:

Years ago I was invited to be a guest on a national cable TV program to debate the pornography issue. I took a copy of Dr. Victor B. Cline’s monograph, Effects of Pornography on Adults & Children, to read during the limo ride to the studio. I had read parts of it but not all of it. As I quickly read the entire monograph that day, I realized how accurately it described my own experience with pornography. I still remember being emotionally shaken by the time I arrived at the studio.

That car ride prompted me to ask Dr. Cline’s permission to publish his monograph in booklet form, which is available in PDF format at www.moralityinmedia.org (Pornography Effects). This morning, I would like to read brief excerpts from that portion of Dr. Cline’s monograph that describe addiction to pornography:
As a clinical psychologist, I have treated…approximately 350 sex addicts, sex offenders, or other individuals (96% male) with sexual illnesses...With several exceptions, pornography has been a major or minor contributor or facilitator in the acquisition of their deviation or sexual addiction…

FIRST PHASE – ADDICTION
The first change that happened was an addiction-effect. The porn-consumers got hooked. Once involved in pornographic materials, they kept coming back for more and still more. The material seemed to provide a very powerful sexual
stimulant...followed by sexual release, most often through masturbation...It is difficult for non-addicts to comprehend the totally driven nature of a sex addict. When the "wave" hits them, nothing can stand in the way of getting what they want, whether that be pornography accompanied by masturbation, sex from a prostitute, molesting a child, or raping a woman....

SECOND PHASE – ESCALATION

The second phase was an escalation-effect. With the passage of time, the addicted person required rougher, more explicit, more deviant...kinds of sexual material to get their highs...It was reminiscent of individuals afflicted with drug addictions....

THIRD PHASE – DESENSITIZATION
The third phase was desensitization. Material...which was originally perceived as shocking, taboo-breaking, illegal, repulsive, or immoral, in time came to be seen as acceptable and commonplace. The sexual activity depicted in the pornography (no matter how anti-social or deviant) became legitimized....

FOURTH PHASE - ACTING OUT SEXUALLY

The fourth phase was an increasing tendency to act out sexually the behaviors viewed in the pornography, including compulsive promiscuity, exhibitionism, group sex, voyeurism, frequenting massage parlors, having sex with minor children, rape...This behavior frequently grew into a sexual addiction which they found themselves locked into and unable to change or reverse....

If Dr. Cline were the only professional who had witnessed these phases, we would have reason to take what Dr. Cline wrote with a grain of salt. But Dr. Cline is not alone in his assessment. If you don’t believe me, go to an Internet search engine and type in “sexual addiction” or “pornography addiction” and “act out” or “prostitute”.

This is not to say that everyone who gets “hooked” on pornography acts out in an illegal manner and, in particular, with prostitutes. But many do act out with prostitutes, and that contributes to the demand for prostitution.

I should also add that not everyone who pays for sex with prostitutes is addicted to pornography. But the two often go hand-in-hand. A good example of this is found in the legal Declaration (dated 4/19/06) filed by Denise Richards in her divorce case against TV actor Charlie Sheen (“Two and a Half Men”). It reads in part:

Respondent promised that he would not be with prostitutes; however, he told me that he was not going to give up his...pornography habit and that I had to accept it[at p.10]...Respondent came into the house...I told him that I discovered some pornography websites that he belonged to which I found very disturbing...I also discovered that the Respondent belonged to several sex search type sites, which he looked for women to have sex with...When I confronted Respondent with this information, he did not deny it. I told him that as a mother, I found this information very disturbing because we had two young daughters and that I believed he had a serious problem...Respondent and I spoke...on April 9, 2006...I told the Respondent that I was very concerned about the children spending the night at his house because of the activities he was involved in with prostitutes...and pornography...I confronted him with information...that he was still having prostitutes at his house. He did not deny this [at p.15]...
[The Declaration is available at www.thesmokinggun.com]

What prostituted women say

I first came across a study of San Francisco street prostitutes (M. Silbert & A. Pines, “Pornography and Sexual Abuse of Women,” Sex Roles, 10:857-868, 1984) while doing research about the link between pornography and violent sexual crimes. That study included a finding that is also relevant to my focus today. And I quote:

The present study…was aimed at studying sexual abuse of street prostitutes both prior to and following entrance into prostitution...Two-hundred juvenile and adult, current and former, women street prostitutes in the San Francisco Bay area participated in the study…The study generated an enormous amount of data…documenting stunning amounts of sexual abuse of street prostitutes as part of their job, outside their work environment and in their childhood prior to entering prostitution. Many of the open descriptions of these sexual assaults made reference to the role played by pornography. These references were unsolicited by interviewers…Out of the 193 cases of rape, 24% mentioned allusions to pornographic material on the part of the rapist. This is even more significant when it is understood that these comments were made by respondents without any solicitation or reference to the issue of pornography by the Interviewer. The comments followed the same pattern: the assailant referred to pornographic materials he had seen or read... [Italics added by RP]

Subsequent studies have reported similar findings:

M. Farley, “Renting an Organ for Ten Minutes: What Tricks Tell Us About Prostitution, Pornography, and Trafficking,” in Pornography: Driving the Demand in International Sex Trafficking 145 (Los Angeles: Captive Daughters Media, 2007), available at www.prostitutionresearch.com:

Interviews with 854 women in prostitution in 9 countries…made it clear that pornography is integral to prostitution. In 9 countries, almost half (49%) told us that pornography was made of them while they were in prostitution. Forty-seven percent of our respondents were upset by tricks’ [johns’] attempts to make them do what the tricks [johns] had previously seen in pornography.

M. Farley and V. Kelly, “Prostitution: A Critical Review of the Medical and Social Sciences Literature,” Women and Criminal Justice, 11(4): 29-64 (2000):

Women in prostitution have described pornography’s role in their being coerced by pimps or customers to enact specific scenes… Customers show women pornography to illustrate what they want…32% of 130 people in one study had been upset by an attempt to coerce them into performing what customers had seen in pornography.

“A facilitator's guide to Prostitution: a matter of violence against women,” WHISPER [“Women Hurt in Systems of Prostitution Engaged in Revolt,” Minneapolis, MN (1990), available at http://www.prostitutionresearch.com]:

Eighty percent of prostitution survivors at the WHISPER Oral History Project reported that their customers showed them pornography to illustrate the kinds of sexual activities in which they wanted to engage in...Thirty percent reported that their pimps regularly exposed them to pornography in order to indoctrinate them into an acceptance of the practices depicted.

On the subject of pimps using pornography for instruction purposes, see also, Associated Press, “Police investigating sex trafficking in Wichita,” Kansas City Star, 5/24/09 (“Wichita police say the cases of teenage girls being forced into sexual slavery are increasing...Gang members train their victims in sex acts, often using pornographic movies as ‘training manuals.’”); AND J. Tomassini, “Hotels target of police sting,” Gaithersburg Gazette,12/24/08, where we read:

Another case outlined the use of the motel by [Defendant], who was convicted of illegal sex trafficking throughout the Metro area in 2006. [Defendant] used girls as young as 14 to conduct a prostitution ring…[A]ccording to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, which prosecuted the case…[Defendant] would drive around the streets surrounding the hotels showing the girls pornographic DVDs in order to illustrate how to perform sex acts…They would then meet men inside the hotel rooms.
What ‘Johns’ say

Last year, I quickly read through a book by Victor Malarek entitled, The Johns: Sex
for sale and the men who buy it (Arcade Publications, 2009). The author had much to say about the relationship between pornography and “johns,” including the following:

Porn and johns go hand in hand. Porn is often what turns the men on, revs up their sex drive, and sends them out into the night… [At 193]

The Internet is rife with postings by johns admitting addiction to or love for porn…For Bull Rider, “porn and mongering go together like peas and carrots. Many times…I start out watching porn; next thing I know I am in my car looking for the real thing”…A john called The Man says he only watches porn when he’s planning an encounter. “I watch the positions; find a girl who looks like one of the performers and make porn the build up to the…party.” [194-195]

And the john’s interest is not lost on those hoping to sell their services. Ads placed by “call girls”…tempt prospective johns with promises of the “PSE” – porn-star experience. The message is clear: if prostitution is the main act, porn is the dress rehearsal. [At 195-196]

The porn addicts may want to sit in the director’s chair themselves, but most will never have the opportunity or means…What’s their solution? Webcams. A new breed of johns… seek[s] out Web sites that let them create XXX from afar. They sit alone in dark rooms… and order up a woman…They order the woman to perform sex acts, in real time. [At 202]

Following the conviction of a man for the murder of five prostitutes in Suffolk, England, BBC News Magazine also published an article entitled, “The men who sleep with prostitutes” (F. Rohrer, 2/28/08), which included the following:

Having visited prostitutes for...months, Pete says he was attracted while surfing the Internet. “I’ve been leading up to it; using pornography and looking at various websites. Rather than being a fantasy it was someone you could have sex with.”

Added to the anecdotal evidence compiled by Malarek and others, researchers in Scotland who interviewed men that used prostitutes [J. Macleod, M. Farley, L. Anderson & J. Golding, “Challenging Men’s Demand for Prostitution in Scotland,” Women’s Support Project, 2008, available at http://www.rapecrisisscotland.org.uk] found that men who were the most frequent users of print, video and Internet pornography were also the most frequent users of women in prostitution.
Other researchers have obtained similar results. See, Monto and N. McRee, “A Comparison of the Male Customers of Female Street Prostitutes With National Samples of Men,” International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 49(5), 505-529 (2005):

Repeat users reported greater participation in all aspects of the sex industry than did non-customers. They were much more likely to report having purchased sexually explicit magazines or videos, and they were more than twice as likely to have visited nude establishments.

Women trafficked into hardcore adult pornography

In June 2002, Morality in Media launched the www.obscenitycrimes.org tipline to enable citizens to make complaints about possible violations of federal Internet obscenity laws. In 2002, MIM also retained the services of two retired law enforcement agents to follow up on complaints and to prepare detailed written investigative reports of what they observe on websites. The complaints and the investigative reports are forwarded to the U.S. Justice Department in Washington and to local U.S. Attorney Offices. Over the years, I have read many if not most of the reports that the two retired agents have prepared. The degrading, perverse and violent sexual conduct depicted on some of these websites is so horrific that it defies the imagination that the women voluntarily consented to participate for pay.

Over the years, I have also read news articles reporting that trafficked women were sent to work in strip bars. See, e.g., AP, “Iowa man convicted of human trafficking...,” FOXNews.com, 12/22/08 (“Prosecutors said [Defendant]...recruited and harbored two Nebraska girls...for commercial sexual activity, including prostitution and performing at strip clubs”); J. MacIntosh, “‘Strip’ slave driver: NJ sex kingpin guilty,” N.Y. Post, 12/204 (“The leader of an alleged stripper import ring pleaded guilty...to charges that he lured women from Russia to dance nude in New Jersey adult clubs under the threat of mob revenge if they refused.”); V. Pope, “Trafficking in women,” U.S. News & World Report, 4/7/97 (“trafficked each year to disparate ports of call...and...the United States – for work as... striptease dancers...”).

Court cases and news articles indicate that women are also trafficked into hardcore adult pornography. For example, the indictment in U.S. v. Bagley, et al., INDICTMENT (W.D.Mo. 9/7/10) describes in detail how a young woman was allegedly forced into the production of hardcore adult pornography and prostitution:

The Grand Jury charges that: Count One (Conspiracy)...C. Manner and Means...Defendant Edward Bagley, Sr. (Defendant 1) advertised and publicized FV[alleged victim] over the internet and in live cam sessions as his slave who would engage in sexual acts and could be tortured during live online sessions, or in person...Defendants 2-5 [names omitted here] provided Defendant 1 with benefits and things of value including, but not limited to cash...Defendant 1 accepted the benefits and things of value and coerced FV to engage in sexual acts and torture sessions with Defendants 2-5...Defendant 2-5 engaged in sexual acts with FV, including sexual torture...D. Overt Acts...Defendant 1invited FV, a 16-year-old minor, who grew up in foster care homes, into his residence after she ran away from home and promised her a great life...Defendant 1 showed FV, while she was still a minor, images of pornography and sadomasochistic activities on the internet and TV...Defendant 1 had FV sign a ‘sexual slavery contract’..., shortly after her 18th birthday and instructed FV that the contract legally bound her to him as his ‘sex slave’...Defendant 1 performed the following sexual acts, mutilation and torture, any one of which constitute an overt act...Defendant 1 tortured FV on live web cam over the internet...Defendants 2-5 communicated with Defendant 1 on the Internet and the telephone regarding sexual and torture activities involving FV...Defendant 3 tied FV up, strapped her to a wooden pony, whipped her...Defendant 1 and Defendant 3 transported FV from Missouri to California with the intent that FV perform sexual acts during a photo shoot...

According to an AP article (B. Draper, “Questions about accuser surround sex slave case,” www.msnbc.com, 10/23/10), FV also “appeared on the cover of the July 2007 issue of Taboo, a publication owned by Larry Flynt's Hustler Magazine Group, and was the subject of a story and multipage photo spread inside.”

See also, United States v. Marcus, 628 F.3d 36, at 39-40 (2nd Cir. 2010), where the U.S. Court of Appeals stated in part:

Marcus and the complaining witness, Jodi, engaged in a consensual relationship that involved bondage, dominance/discipline, submission/sadism, and masochism ("BDSM")... At Marcus's direction, Joanna maintained a membership BDSM website called "Subspace," which contained pictures of Jodi and other women participating in BDSM activities and fantasy diary entries written about these activities... By October 1999, the nature of this arrangement changed. Because Jodi refused to recruit her younger sister to become one of Marcus's "slaves," Marcus inflicted upon Jodi a "punishment" that was the most physically severe that she had experienced to date. Jodi testified that she cried throughout the incident and that thereafter her relationship with Marcus became nonconsensual... Jodi testified that upon her move to New York, Marcus directed her to create and maintain a new commercial BDSM website called "Slavespace"... Marcus received all revenues from the website, consisting primarily of membership fees and advertising. Although Jodi did not want to work on the website as Marcus instructed, she did so because she feared the consequences of her refusal...

See also, Expatica News, 1/27/05 (“A Dutch court has imposed sentences...on four people found guilty of kidnapping asylum seekers and forcing them to take part in pornography... The men were arrested...after the asylum seekers were kidnapped and forced to have sex with men and animals in a farm shed. The sex acts were filmed.”).

I don’t mean to say or imply that all or even most hardcore adult pornography depicts participants who did not consent. But with so much sexual trafficking taking place internationally and in our country, it would be surprising indeed if no women were being videotaped while they engaged in sex acts. In some cases the video is for the johns’ personal use; in other cases it is disseminated for commercial purposes.

I hasten to add that last year Professor Donna Hughes wrote a paper which argues that since passage of the Trafficking Victims Prostitution Act, even long established U.S. based commercial producers of hardcore adult pornography may have engaged in sex trafficking of adult women (over the age of 17). In some cases, there may have been force or coercion; in other cases, fraud or preying on a performer’s drug use or addiction. The paper, “Sex trafficking of women for the production of pornography,” is available at http://www.citizensagainsttrafficking.org.

Serial killers ‘act out’ pornography fueled fantasies with prostitutes
Ted Bundy was an exception. He sexually assaulted and murdered “nice girls.” Unlike Bundy, most serial killers sexually assault and murder prostituted women, many of whom sell their bodies to feed a drug addiction. Not all of these women are trafficked into prostitution, but drug induced behavior isn’t voluntary. One example of a killer acting out pornography fueled fantasies is found in the book, Sex-Related Homicide and Death Investigation (CRC Press, 2003), authored by Vernon Geberth, a retired NYPD Lieutenant Commander of the Bronx homicide squad. He writes:

In many cases, the offenders use their girlfriends or prostitutes to act out their sadistic fantasies…This case involved a serial killer who was killing prostitutes…Once he completed the sex act, he stripped and tortured them for hours…The significance of fantasy in this case was graphically revealed when…detectives went to the killer’s home and retrieved a number of items, including one pornographic videotape…This videotape contained a number of scenes that were similar to what the offender was doing to his victims. The breast assault and paddling activities appeared to be based upon this sadomasochistic videotape, which seemingly fueled his increasingly sadistic activities.

In his monograph, “Pornography’s Effects on Adults & Children” (Morality in Media, 2001), Dr. Victor B. Cline states that “a study by FBI researchers of 36 serial killers revealed that 29 were attracted to pornography and incorporated it into their sexual activity, which included serial rape-murder.”

For more on the subject of the link between pornography and sexual violence, and sexual violence against prostitutes in particular, see R. Peters, “Link between pornography and violent sexual crimes,” Morality in Media (2004), available at www.moralityinmedia.org (Pornography Effects...Sexual Violence).

Concluding thoughts

I did not come here today to tell you that addiction to hardcore adult pornography “causes” prostitution. I did come to tell you that the proliferation of hardcore adult pornography on the Internet and elsewhere is contributing to the demand for prostitution and thus for women and children trafficked into prostitution.

I also came to tell you that federal and state law enforcement agencies and prosecutors make a big mistake when they turn a “blind eye” to this proliferation and refuse to enforce our nation’s constitutional federal and state obscenity laws.
Enforcement of obscenity laws alone will not solve the pornography or prostitution problems, but vigorous enforcement of these laws will certainly help. I would add that unlike child pornography, much if not most hardcore adult pornography is created and distributed by a relatively small number of U.S. based pornographers. Put these racketeers out of business, and there will be real progress towards maintaining a safe and decent society for all Americans and for family life.

I would also add that the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that obscene materials are not protected by the First Amendment. Congress has also repeatedly updated and strengthened federal obscenity laws. What is now needed is vigorous enforcement of these constitutional laws by U.S. Justice Department prosecutors and the FBI.
To my knowledge, there have been no new obscenity indictments against commercial distributors of hardcore adult pornography since the November 2008 elections.

Some Evidence for Our Divine Benefactor




Do Christians fare better than others? It seems so:

• In Medicine. Religion, and Health, Harold Koenig summarizes a wide body of data showing that religious people who affirm the afterlife are healthier than nonbelievers. They are less likely to suffer from stress and depression, less likely to attempt suicide, less vulnerable to a host of other ailments, and more likely to live longer. Psychologist Jonathan Haidt cites surveys that show that “religious people are happier, on the average, than nonreligious people.” Surveys show that religious people even have more fulfilling sex lives than secular people! And sociologist Arthur Brooks concludes his study of philanthropy in American by showing that religious believers are vastly more generous both with their time and money than their secular counterparts. They give more not only to religious causes but also to secular causes.” (Dinesh D’Souza, Life After Death: The Evidence, 216)

Interestingly, most secular people seem to acknowledge these conclusions. Some will even confess, “It must be comforting to believe.” However, if pressed, they might add, “I’d rather be right than comfortable” or “truth is better than a comforting fiction.” Nevertheless, they also tend to admit that there is no proof against the existence of God or an afterlife, just a lack of evidence.

However, don’t all the emotional and physical benefits that we Christians enjoy constitute evidence of a Higher order? And is the secularist’s rejection of religion based on a lack of evidence or a lifestyle choice? Twenty years ago, an atheist friend challenged me to chess. If I lost, I would have to read Why I Am Not a Christian by the brilliant mathematician and atheist Bertrand Russell. If he lost, he would have to read the Gospel of John. We both lost a game each, so I began to plow my way through Russell, who wrote, “The worst feature about the Christian religion is its attitude toward sex.”

D’Souza, however, explains that Russell’s stance was based less on a lack of evidence than his own sexual preferences:

• As an advocate of public nudity and free love, Russell naturally found this [the erosion of Christianity] a very congenial prospect. He was one of the first apostles of the sexual revolution. (207)

The choices of the heart tend to cause us to see those things that confirm our choices and deny the evidences that oppose them. It also seems that these lifestyle choices can give birth to and sustain powerful movements. Psychiatrist G. Brock Chisholm, president of the World Federation for Mental Health, had stated in 1945:

• The re-interpretation and eventual eradication of the concept of right and wrong which has been the basis of child training, the substitution of intelligent and rational thinking with faith in the certainties of the old people, these are the belated objectives of practically all effective psychotherapy.

• The fact is that most psychiatrists and psychologists and other respectable people have escaped from these moral chains and are able to observe and think freely.

• If the race is to be free from the crippling burden of good and evil, it must be psychiatrists who take the original responsibility.”

How widespread was this thinking “In a 1976 survey of members of the APA, 95% reportedly admitted to being atheists or agnostics.” Were these philosophical commitments the product of evidence or lifestyle choices? According to Al Parides, Prof. of Psychiatry, UCLA:

• If you look at the personal lives of all Freud’s followers—his initial disciples—these people certainly have an unbelievable amount of particular problems in the sexual area…The amount of deviancy as far as their sexual behavior and so forth is enormous. If you are saying that psychiatry promotes a certain form of morality that is a deviant morality in regard to many areas including sexual behavior—yes, I would agree. (Psychiatry: The Ultimate Betrayal, Bruce Wiseman, 12-14)

Was their commitment to uncommitted sexuality as product of a lack of evidence to the contrary or the pursuit of their hearts’ desires? Please understand that I’m not blaming our unbridled sexual appetites for atheism. I think that there are many reasons why we fail to see the evidence.

Does that fact that the God-fearing fare better than the secularist constitute evidence for a Benign Cosmic Lover? According to Jesus, those who would make God their Shepherd would fare better:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

If the secularist is honest, he will admit that he has an evidential problem. The secularist worships science and reason as adaptive tools. Meanwhile, they disdain religion as the antithesis and therefore regard it as counter-adaptive. Yet, it is the Christian who is thriving in their midst!

For the secularist, this is a puzzle; for the Christian, it’s a puzzle that gradually fits together, shedding light on a Divine design. Consequently, D’Souza concludes,

• Given the weight of the evidence in favor of belief, there is no room for unbelievers to claim that their position enjoys a superior claim to rationality. On the contrary, unbelief is neither intellectually plausible nor practically beneficial. (217)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Abortion Business

Despite the fact that abortion is the taking of a human life, New York City has just signed into effect a law that places special requirements on Crisis Pregnancy Centers designed to protect these vulnerable lives:

• The law requires non-medical, pro-life “pregnancy services centers” to inform women with notices posted in both English and Spanish whether they have a licensed medical provider on staff. The signs would also state that the city’s Health Department encourages women to seek help from a licensed medical provider if the center does not have one on staff. It also requires the pro-life centers to post on signs and ads whether they provide referrals for abortion, “emergency contraception,” and prenatal care. The notices are required both for the pregnancy centers’ facilities and on their advertizing – in a size and font to be determined by city authorities. (LifeSiteNews.com, March 21)

• Failure to post the signs can result in fines of up to $1,000 for the first day of violation and up to $2,500 for each day thereafter. After three days of violation within a two-year period, the city health commissioner can shut down the center with the assistance of police. Other parts of the law allow for additional fines and imprisonment.

Well, what’s so problematic about having to post certain warnings or limitations regarding their services. Certainly, the law requires warnings on cigarette and drug advertisements! However, the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), which has filed a lawsuit on behalf of these rescue centers, argues that this law is biased,

• …since state law does not require medical providers at non-medical centers, nor does it require abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood, to make any disclosures in favor of abortion alternatives.

It has been argued that such a law is in violation of the Constitution – the government coercing another party to make certain speech/disclosures.

• Federal judges have issued injunctions against the laws in both cases. In the Montgomery County case, U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow ruled that officials were within constitutional bounds to require centers to publicize with signs whether a licensed medical professional was on hand. But she put a hold on the second part, severing it from the rest of the law, saying officials were stepping outside the scope of the speech government can compel, by forcing the centers to encourage the women to go elsewhere.

Let’s set aside the Constitutional ramifications and just regard this law from a moral point of view. There are certain forms of disclosures that society does compel, others that it doesn’t. There is protected free speech, and there is speech that isn’t protected. We can’t cry “fire” in a crowded theatre, but we can cry “fire” when there is an actual fire.

Does the abortion industry represent an actual fire? Is there an over-riding social concern to alert the public to this danger? Do we place society in significant and unwarranted jeopardy by not coercing the pregnancy centers to make such disclosures?

Abortion is a threat. It is not only the snuffing out of a human life – many of them – it is also a personal and social ill. LifeSiteNews.com reported on a meeting of “Silent No More” (people who have suffered because of abortion):

• Many women said they suffered for years - 20, 25, 30, or more - with a painful burden of guilt, buried deep inside them. They described the years of drug addiction, dysfunctional relationships, sexual promiscuity, and depression that resulted. Several said that the rejection of their baby also led to the ruin of other relationships - with lovers, parents, and living children. “I remember when I went to go get in the car [after the abortion], my one-year-old son reached out for me to pick him up, and I couldn’t,” recalled Cynthia Carney of Tulsa, barely able to speak through her tears. “My relationship changed with him that day. It’s never been the same.”

In addition, there are the many studies that connect abortion to future fertility and health problems. On the other side of the ledger, are there significant and over-riding reasons to control Crisis Pregnancy Centers in the biased manner that this new law does? Perhaps there is – the new secular religion that says, “I don’t want to be made to feel guilty about any of my pleasures!”

Personally, I would never want to make anyone feel guilty about something that couldn’t be meaningfully addressed. However, addressing the underlying guilt can lead to resolution. I like the way that the Apostle Paul states it:

Yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. (2 Cor. 7:9-10)

Did Moses Write the Torah?




Skeptics have long denied that Moses wrote the Torah (Pentateuch). However, there isn’t any hard evidence backing such a claim. Nor is there any hard evidence that Moses’ five books were authored at a much later date, while there is much evidence that does point to Moses as the author:

THE TORAH’S OWN SAY-SO:

• Exodus 24:3-4 So Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, "All the words which the LORD has said we will do." And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel.

• Exodus 34:27 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write these words, for according to the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel." (Ten Commandments)

• Numbers 33:2 Now Moses wrote down the starting points of their journeys at the command of the LORD. And these are their journeys according to their starting points:

THESE WRITINGS WERE ALSO PUBLIC PROPERTY. This constituted a paper-trial, making it highly difficult for anyone to later claim to have found a pseudonymous “Torah”:
• Deut. 31:9 So Moses wrote this law and delivered it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel.

• Deut. 31:24-26 After Moses finished writing in a book the words of this law from beginning to end, 25he gave this command to the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD: 26"Take this Book of the Law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God. There it will remain as a witness against you.

• Joshua 3:3 giving orders to the people: "When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests, who are Levites, carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it.

THESE WRITINGS WERE PUBLICLY RECITED.

• Deut. 6:6-9 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

• Proverbs 7:3 Bind them [the laws of Moses] on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.

• Deut. 31:19-22 "Now write down for yourselves this song and teach it to the Israelites and have them sing it…this song will testify against them…So Moses wrote down this song that day and taught it to the Israelites.

They were recited throughout Israel’s history (2 Kings 23:2; 2 Chron. 17:9; Nehemiah 8:8). Almost all of the subsequent books of the Bible attest, directly or indirectly to Mosaic authorship. In fact, their very substance is dependent upon Moses’ revelation and the history recorded in the Torah. The New Testament and Jesus all affirm Mosaic authorship.

EXTERNAL EVIDENCE: (“It is worth emphasizing that in all this work no archeological discovery has ever controverted a single, properly understood biblical (OT) statement.” Nelson Glueck—a Reformed Jewish scholar.)

PENTATEUCH SHOWS THOROUGH ACQUAINTANCE WITH EGYPT:
1. Vocabulary: “A greater percentage of Egyptian words than elsewhere in the OT” Archer. “Moses”, “Pithom” , “Potiphera”, “Asenath” (Joseph’s wife), “Zaphenath-Paneah” (Name bestowed upon Joseph by Pharaoh—Gen 41:45)

2. Egyptian Idioms:
------“According to thy utterance all my people shall kiss.” (Gen 41:40); “Abrek”= “bow the knee” (Gen 41:43); Use of the term ‘Pharaoh’ instead of the actual name : “This conformity to eighteenth dynasty Egyptian usage turns out to be strong evidence of a Mosaic date of composition.” G. Archer, “Survey of Old Testament Introductions”

3. Egyptian Society:
--------"Thus we can not but admit that the writer…was thoroughly well acquainted with the Egyptian language customs, belief, court life, etiquette and officialdom; not only so, but the readers must have been familiar with things Egyptian.” Garrow Duncan concerning the Joseph and Exodus narratives.

--------“The price of 20 shekels paid for Joseph in Ge. 37:28 is the correct average price for a slave in about the 18th Century BC: earlier than this, slaves were cheaper (aqverage, 10-15 shekels)” K.A.Kitchen

--------“When Pharaoh appointed Joseph prime minister, Joseph was given a ring and a gold chain or collar which is normal procedure for Egyptian office promotions.” Josh McDowell, “A Ready Defense”

--------“For centuries there was a tomb in Shechem reverenced as the tomb of Joseph (Josh 24:32). A few years ago the tomb was opened. It was found to contain a body mummified according to the Egyptian custom, and in the tomb, among other things, was a sword of the kind worn by Egyptian officials.” John Elder, “Prophets, Idols, and Diggers”

4. “The author of the Torah shows a consistently foreign or extra-Palestinian viewpoint.” Archer
--------Crop sequence is Egyptian: Exodus 9:31-32 Now the flax and the barley were struck, for the barley was in the head and the flax was in bud. But the wheat and the spelt were not struck, for they are late crops.

--------“The Shittim or Acacia tree is indigenous to Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula, but not to Palestine.” G. Archer

--------“The lists of clean and unclean birds of Lev 11 and Deut. 14 include some which are peculiar to Sinai.” G. Archer

5. Mention of archaic customs (Genesis) – Cave of Machpelah; Theft of the Teraphim, Deuteronomy is written in covenant form used at the same time Moses was writing.
--------Kitchen writes that there is no “legitimate way to escape from the crystal-clear evidence of the correspondence of Deuteronomy with the remarkably stable treaty or covenant form of the 14th-13th centuries BC.”

Monday, March 21, 2011

Islam and the West; Islam and the Church




According to Western leaders, integrating Muslims into Western culture has proved an unqualified flop. In October, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that the

• …tendency had been to say, “Let’s adopt the multicultural concept and live happily side by side…” But this concept has failed and failed utterly.

Merkel is not alone in this assessment. In February, UK Prime Minister David Cameron stated,

• Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and apart from the mainstream. We’ve failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong.

More recently, French President Nicolas Sarkozy joined the growing chorus. According to World (March 26, p.24):

• He made the statement in a televised debate…that efforts to accommodate religious and cultural differences were clearly a “failure.”

However, they shouldn’t be too quick to assume all the blame. Their Muslim populations are also playing out their Koran-prescribed role. According to a fatwa (judgment; # 59879; www.koranqa.com) Muslims are forbidden to take friends from among non-Muslims:

• Undoubtedly the Muslim is obliged to hate the enemies of Allaah and to disavow them, because this is the way of the Messengers and their followers. Allaah says:

-----------[Surah 60:4] “Indeed there has been an excellent example for you in Ibraaheem (Abraham) and those with him, when they said to their people: ‘Verily, we are free from you and whatever you worship besides Allaah, we have rejected you, and there has started between us and you, hostility and hatred for ever until you believe in Allaah Alone’”

• Based on this, it is not permissible for a Muslim to feel any love in his heart towards the enemies of Allaah who are in fact his enemies too. Allaah says:

------------[Surah 60:1] “O you who believe! Take not My enemies and your enemies (i.e. disbelievers and polytheists) as friends, showing affection towards them, while they have disbelieved in what has come to you of the truth”

• But if a Muslim treats them with kindness and gentleness in the hope that they will become Muslim and will believe, there is nothing wrong with that, because it comes under the heading of opening their hearts to Islam. But if he despairs of them becoming Muslim, then he should treat them accordingly.

Extending “friendship” to the non-Muslim is only for the purpose of promoting Islam. Once it becomes apparent that this deceptive strategy isn’t bearing any fruits, these ties must be broken.

The reality of non-friendship, even hate, is repeatedly born out in Muslim-majority nations where religious minorities are condemned into a second-class status. In “moderate” Malaysia, Christians petitioned the court for the right to use the word “Allah” for God, as they have traditionally used this term. At first the court agreed to extend this privilege to the churches, but after ten of them were set on fire by Muslims, the higher court retracted this privilege. In all other Muslim countries, intimidation, sometimes enforced by popular violence, reigns to keep the minorities in their place.

What should our response be? Besides speaking up against the persecution, something that the indigenous Christians can only do under the threat of retaliation, we mustn’t forget about our mandate to spread the Gospel. Ultimately, we “wrestle not against flesh and blood” (Eph. 6:12). Our battle is spiritual. Only the Gospel can penetrate hardened hearts to liberate those taken captive by the lies of evil (2 Tim. 2:24-26). Martin Luther had been asked about the success of the Reformation. He answered,

• I opposed indulgences and all papists, but never by force. I simply taught, preached, and wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing. And then while I slept or drank Wittenberg beer with my Philip and my Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that never a prince or emperor did such damage to it. I did nothing, The Word did it all.

Sadly, the Word has become reduced to a matter of doing good deeds and showing hospitality. Although these are important, it’s the Gospel through the Spirit that does the work. The Apostle Paul stood firmly for this truth:

I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes... (Romans 1:16).

Sadly, today many churches disdain the direct presentation of the Gospel. They say, “Preach the Gospel whenever you can and use words only when necessary.” Well, our words are necessary. We are to “contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 3; 1 Peter 3:15; Matthew 28:18-20).

Indeed, there is nothing the matter with performing loving deeds, but this shouldn’t be at the expense of exposing the works of evil (Eph. 5:11) and also correcting those in error (2 Tim. 2:24-26) who have been able to take whole households captive with their false teaching (Titus 1:7-11). We no longer have a stomach for disagreements. Nor are we able to make a defense for our faith (1 Peter 3:15) against a Muslim.

Meanwhile, we can support those who are making such a defense. The Arab Broadcasting Network (ABNSAT.COM) seems to be doing a good job, aggressively promoting the Gospel against the counter-claims of Islam.

I don’t know what the Western nations should do against the growing threat of Islam, but it is clear what we are called to do.