Peter Williams on the Bible and Slavery

The longer a video is the more it takes to convince me to watch a link. A few minutes tops as I prefer to read text. Partly because reading is generally quicker for conveying the same amount of information, and reading allows you to skim or skip around to see if you want to invest the time in reading the article. Nevertheless, this Peter Williams lecture is worth recommending even though it is over an hour long. I had not heard of Williams though came across this link twice in as many days. It was very useful, very sensible, very interesting.

For those who don’t wish to invest the time Williams shows how “slavery” is a poor translation choice given how Westerners think of slavery, even though slave is increasingly used in modern translations. A helpful chart (reproduced below) from 22:31 minutes compares the rights of slaves (bondservants) in the Old Testament with Roman slaves and American slaves. He also introduces a very helpful interpretive point on Exodus 21:21 (from 25:40 minutes).

Does the Bible Support Slavery? by Peter Williams

Conditions OT Roman New World
Holiday Yes No Yes
Food enough Yes No No
Legal redress Yes No No
Sexual protection Yes No No
Kidnapped No Yes Yes
Chains No Yes Yes
Torture No Yes Yes
Physical abuse No Yes Yes

Hat tip: Mark Ward, Andrew Wilson.
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unfair game


February 2016 (7)Ecclesiastes 9:11-12

11 I turned to see that the race under this sun does not go to the swift ones, and the battle does not go to the warriors, and neither does bread go to the wise, nor wealth to the discerning, nor favour to men of ability; because time and chance overtake them all. 12 Because man does not recognize his time: like fish caught in a treacherous net, and birds trapped in a snare, so the children of men are ensnared by an evil time when it suddenly falls upon them.

unfair game

We are taught that life is a game, and if you play by the rules and work hard, you will win. Horse feathers! Solomon learned that life seldom works out like that. The warriors fail in battle, and the athletes fail in the arena, and all of us fail unfairly all the time. Really smart people end up unemployed and hungry. We are more like fish caught in a net, or birds caught in a snare. Life sneaks up on us while we are learning the rules and bonks us on the head.

The older and the more truly wise you get, the less you try to figure out the way to succeed, and the less success means to you. Once you get over the middle age panic – if you are mature enough – you realize that the game is not the ultimate thing.

LORD give us the wisdom to stop trying to win, and focus on you and our relationship with you.


The Real Deal

Ted Cruz in Action One-On-One

Here’s a revealing video.  Patterico drew our attention to it.  He wrote:

The Remarkable Persuasive Ability of Ted Cruz

We’ve seen this before: Ted Cruz takes on a hostile questioner in one-to-one conversation, and communicates with remarkable effectiveness. But in previous cases the questioners have been leftist shills, like a Code Pink activist or Ellen Page — people whom Cruz has simply bested in a debate.

This clip allows us to see a different scenario: an angry voter who isn’t a lefty hack but just somebody honestly concerned about his livelihood.

In this case, the voter is farmer in Iowa who is incensed by the fact that Cruz does not support ethanol subsidies. Cruz sets a tone of mutual respect, explains how his free-market policies could actually benefit the farmer — and ends up turning an angry guy into somebody who tells Cruz he hopes the votes come in for him.


By the way: are there any snippets of Donald Trump having one on one conversations with hostile voters, having a civil and respectful discussion, and turning them around like this?

Yes, that is a rhetorical question.

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Daily Devotional

Hard Days

TO ARTHUR GREEVES: On the meaning of interruptions and real life; on the difficulty of being patient; and on expiating through embracing one’s own sufferings.

C. S. Lewis

20 December 1943

Things are pretty bad here. Minto’s varicose ulcer gets worse and worse, domestic help harder and harder to come by. Sometimes I am very unhappy, but less so than I have often been in what were (by external standards) better times.

The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own’, or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life—the life God is sending one day by day: what one calls one’s ‘real life’ is a phantom of one’s own imagination. This at least is what I see at moments of insight: but it’s hard to remember it all the time—I know your problems must be much the same as mine (with the important difference that mine are of my own making, a very appropriate punishment and, like all God’s punishments, a chance for expiation.)

Isn’t it hard to go on being patient, to go on supplying sympathy? One’s stock of love turns out, when the testing time comes, to be so very inadequate: I suppose it is well that one should be forced to discover the fact!

I find too (do you?) that hard days drive one back on Nature. I don’t mean walks . . . but little sights and sounds seen at windows in odd moments.

I had a most vivid, tranquil dream about you the other night, just chatting in the old way. Let’s hope it will happen sometime. For the rest, I’ve no news.

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume II
Compiled in Yours, Jack

The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume II: Family Letters 1905-1931. Copyright © 2004 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Yours, Jack: Spiritual Direction from C. S. Lewis. Copyright © 2008 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
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Time For All Good Men To Come to the Aid of the Party

Sadly once again Maori have been tarred with ignominy, shame, and a loss of mana.  The few have shamed the entire race.  Waitangi Day is supposed to be a holiday celebrating the beginning of the New Zealand nation.  Traditionally, Waitangi plays host to the Prime Minister and a bevy of politicians.  In recent years it has become the pretext for airing of Maori grievances–of which there appear to be no end.

Waitangi and the Treaty Grounds fall within the tribal area of Ngapuhi tribe.  It has traditionally played the role of host for guests and visitors to the Treaty Grounds on Waitangi day.  Ngapuhi is a deeply divided group, bedevilled with internecine bickering and animosity.  At present it appears that the extremists and the radicals are in charge.

One blogger wrote, urging Key not to attend:

John, don’t go to the Ti Ti (sic) Marae at Waitangi.    The lunatics have taken control of the asylum.   The debate in Maoridom over the TPPA has become irrational egged on by the lies pedaled by opponents of the agreement.   I doubt whether anyone at Ti Ti has bothered to do the hard yards and read the agreement.   If they had then the sort of canard being pedaled around the unwashed that the agreement could see Maori prisoners sent off-shore to serve their time in US and Aust prisons would be seen for what it is … loony tunes stuff.

What has happened on the Marae is mirrored in the discord among Ngapuhi as to who has the mandate to negotiate their treaty claim(s) and you can see why. Their leadership has been highjacked by the likes of Kingi Tauroa, Sonny Tau, Hone Harawira, Margaret Mutu and the Popata brothers.   And so it is with the TPPA debate … rationality has gone out the window.
   In their world there is no place for informed and peaceful discussion.   It’s time for action and if action means forceful action then sobeit.   Ngapuhi have never been shrinking violets when it comes to violence.

More moderate leaders like Rude Taylor and Rahiri Dargaville have been sidelined.   Their mana counts for very little.   The radical element is in charge and, with tensions high and escalating, there is the potential for real violence and people could get hurt.  The PM does not need to put himself or his people at risk.   He is not dealing with rational people.   Better he leaves Ti Ti to the lunatics.    They are what they are and KDS rules supreme.  Nothing he can say or do will cause them to change their minds.

In fact, shortly after this piece was written the PM’s office announced that this year the Prime Minister, John Key had decided that he would not attend Waitangi Day celebrations at Waitangi, but would likely visit celebrations and memorial activities elsewhere in the country.  It was a decision which increases his mana and public image.  It will be regarded by many throughout the country–including many Maori we believe–as a principled stand.

It is ironic that Maori stand to benefit hugely from the great fillip  in trade that will undoubtedly flow from the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (“TPPA”), just signed in Auckland.  Tribal ownership of businesses has increased remarkably over the past thirty years: many of Maori businesses are agriculturally orientated and export increasing amounts of product to Asia.  TPPA will provide enormous benefits to Maori business in particular.  Yet Maori radicals, festooned with an invincible and profound ignorance, have decided that it is going to threaten Maori interests.  They have brought shame and embarrassment to many Maori.

The only way for Maori in general to prevent a loss of mana is to support publicly John Key’s decision to boycott Ngapuhi, to speak out against the ignorance of those opposing TPPA, and to expose the folly of the Maori radicals for nursing manufactured, ignorant grievances.
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your reward in life


February 2016 (6)Ecclesiastes 9:7-10

7 Go on, eat your bread with gladness, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; because God has already shown approval of your works. 8 Let your clothes stay white all the time, and let not oil be lacking on your head. 9 Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; because this is your reward in life, and for your work in which you have done under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do with all your strength; because there is no working or thinking or knowledge or wisdom waiting in Sheol where you are heading.

your reward in life

Solomon is not teaching us that life is futile. He is telling us that it can be wonderful, but also warning us that it does not last. So, he does not advocate withdrawal from life in some kind of self-imposed monastic hermitage. Instead he challenges all of us to engage in life, and if we are fortunate enough to have work, a good marriage, or any of the other benefits of this life, consider it all a reward. Do not ignore those rewards. Enjoy them. Just remember that none of these things are permanent. Enjoy life’s temporary rewards, and also seek a more permanent kingdom.

LORD, give is the good sense to enjoy these few days, and the rewards that they bring. Give us also the wisdom to not turn away from the eternal hope that comes only from a relationship with you.


Doug Wilson’s Letter From Moscow

Presidential Pardon in a World Gone Mad

Douglas Wilson
So let us begin with the “world gone mad” part. David Daleiden, the man behind the Planned Parenthood sting videos, has been indicted by a grand jury in Texas. He made the mistake of gathering secret footage of Planned Parenthood doing appalling things with the bodies of little boys and girls. If he had only had the good sense to run a sting operation on the executives of Tyson Foods, demonstrating abusive treatment of chickens, he could be writing his acceptance speech for the Pulitzer now.World Gone Mad
This last August, when the videos were first dropping, I argued that every presidential candidate needed to be asked whether or not he or she would commit to awarding David Daleiden the Medal of Freedom. Sometime after that I had the opportunity to ask Mike Huckabee if he would be willing to do that, and he said it was a good idea. That question is still a good one, is obviously necessary, and needs to be renewed.
But now the stakes are raised — because Planned Parenthood has opted for the bang instead of the whimper — and so we have the perfect opportunity to call and raise them a couple hundred.
The question for each of the Republican candidates over the course of this next week needs to be this one. “If elected, would you be willing to sign a presidential pardon for David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt?”
Before anybody rushes to comment, I am perfectly aware of the fact that David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt were indicted in Texas, and that the power of presidential pardons only applies at the federal level. But the question is still relevant. Planned Parenthood has sued the Center for Medical Progress in federal court in California. And with regard to the Texas case, cases at the state level can easily wend their way into the federal system on appeal. So the question assumes the right of a president to pardon at a certain level, and asks for a commitment to pardon the instant it reaches that level.
If ever there was a perfect opportunity to ask this question, it is now. The cluster of remaining candidates are in a hot campaign in Iowa. Iowa is an evangelical stronghold, and all the candidates are going to be there a lot, in multiple venues, for the next week. There will be many opportunities to ask this question. And if any one of the candidates answers the question well, and also directly, there will be a resultant need for reporters to ask the other candidates as well. Some will promise from principle and others from opportunism. But the point is to get them to promise it.
Make no mistake. A presidential pardon for Daleiden and Merritt would be a big deal, an instance of smashmouth presidential politics. Cruz would be ideally suited to address it. It really would be news, and here is why. Such a promise would be made before the trial, which means that a candidate for president would be implicitly acknowledging that our court system has been thoroughly corrupted.
This is because if Daleiden and Merritt were to be convicted, it is manifestly obvious that they would be political prisoners. They would have been convicted of buying human organs, while Planned Parenthood was simultaneously exonerated from the charge of selling them. Heads I win, tails you lose.
There is an added bonus. Such a question would also create  the prospect of Hillary Clinton denouncing the idea, which would create the chance of asking her whether presidential pardons needed to be reserved for cases like that of Marc Rich.

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Daily Devotional

Deep In Debt

“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors.”
Romans 8:12

Charles H. Spurgeon

As God’s creatures, we are all debtors to him: to obey him with all our body, and soul, and strength. Having broken his commandments, as we all have, we are debtors to his justice, and we owe to him a vast amount which we are not able to pay. But of the Christian it can be said that he does not owe God’s justice anything, for Christ has paid the debt his people owed; for this reason the believer owes the more to love.

I am a debtor to God’s grace and forgiving mercy; but I am no debtor to his justice, for he will never accuse me of a debt already paid. Christ said, “It is finished!” and by that he meant, that whatever his people owed was wiped away forever from the book of remembrance. Christ, to the uttermost, has satisfied divine justice; the account is settled; the handwriting is nailed to the cross; the receipt is given, and we are debtors to God’s justice no longer. But then, because we are not debtors to our Lord in that sense, we become ten times more debtors to God than we should have been otherwise.

Christian, pause and ponder for a moment. What a debtor thou art to divine sovereignty! How much thou owest to his disinterested love, for he gave his own Son that he might die for thee. Consider how much you owe to his forgiving grace, that after ten thousand affronts he loves you as infinitely as ever. Consider what you owe to his power; how he has raised you from your death in sin; how he has preserved your spiritual life; how he has kept you from falling; and how, though a thousand enemies have beset your path, you have been able to hold on your way. Consider what you owe to his immutability. Though you have changed a thousand times, he has not changed once.

Thou art as deep in debt as thou canst be to every attribute of God. To God thou owest thyself, and all thou hast–yield thyself as a living sacrifice, it is but thy reasonable service.
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What Could Go Wrong?

Hidebound Socialists Moving Left

Plates are shifting in the NZ political landscape.  Or, a better image would be to make reference to deck chairs on the Titanic.  The Labour Party is moving radically to the left.

We abhor socialism in all its facets.  It always represents “legalised” theft on a grand scale.  It’s end is death, economic death–long term poverty and degradation for the most vulnerable.  But modern politicians are not the sharpest pins in the cushion.  Give them half a sniff at political power and the control of billions of tax revenue and their spending plans swarm forth like new-born blowflies from a maggot infested carcass.  Many such politicians know they are causing problems for future generations.  But who cares?  Some other rubes will inherit the problem.  The negative and destructive consequences of socialism are often slow in the maturation.  The consequences will always be inherited by someone else.  It’s known as “kicking the can down the road”.  

In New Zealand we have a peculiar rort called tertiary education.
 Successive governments have promised public loans to students to fund their expensive tertiary educations.  At its worst, the bribe took the form of interest free public loans.  Naturally, the number of tertiary students soared.

You have graduated from high school.  You have been pandered to by a failing education system which, although it failed to teach you how to read and write and spell, could at least manage to fill your head with prospects of all sorts of exciting careers such as performing arts, fashion design, community service, and (did we mention) performing arts.  Overnight there was a veritable explosion in educational institutions teaching sophisticated and advanced courses in tiddly winks and performing arts, although with the inevitable big price tags to pay for the expertise now parading around brand new campuses.

You duly signed up for an expensive tertiary “education” in the flavour-of-the-month careers, eventually graduated after a few gap years, and lo-and-behold, could not find any work–at least no employment that delivered the oh-so-spectacular salaries you were promised in the first place.  But one thing had changed.  Now you had thousands of dollars of student loan debt to repay, with no job.
No problem.  At least there have been some good outcomes.  Firstly, the vast increase in tertiary students in New Zealand, studying riveting subjects like forecourt management at gas stations.  Politicians cravenly get to pat themselves on the back for the increase in student numbers.  “We are educating NZ for the twenty-first century,”  they crow.  A few more votes have been hoovered up at elections.  Best of all, the price was to  be paid by the next generations of citizens, so, while fiscally disastrous for the country, politically there would have been no immediate costs–only “socialised” costs to taxpayers.

One thing socialists are oblivious to is the law of unintended consequences.  Actually, it’s not a “law” it’s more the general outcome of utility maximising human beings taking personal advantage.  Socialists are congenitally unable to take account of individuals maximizing their personal utility because they have very little understanding of how actual human beings think and act.  Socialists always prefer to deal in abstract human generalities like social classes, not individuals.  It’s an inextricable part of socialism, which views human beings through the prism of social constructs, such as capitalists, proletariats, “haves”, and “have-nots”.  Poke every socialist and you will find that collective nouns and social abstractions belch forth incessantly.  You will also find woeful ignorance of how human beings act in concrete reality.

Marxism is a deterministic world-view.  People are determined and controlled in their thoughts, words, and deeds by the particular socio-economic class they belong to.  Employers (capitalists) are exploiters.  Employees (the proletariat) are the exploited–victims, deserving our guilt and pity.

Now comes the latest iteration of socialism in the matter of tertiary education: the Labour Party has announced that when it has been returned to the Treasury benches it will enact “free” (that is, taxpayer funded) tertiary education.  It’s a fiscally responsible policy–it will only cost an extra $1.2bn from taxpayers per year.  What’s a billion amongst friends, eh?

But, as expected, the rabid socialists who control the Labour Party are hidebound, conditioned to think in terms of socio-economic classes.  Free tertiary education will mean a vast explosion in tertiary courses and graduates, and heaps and heaps of young people moving into higher paying jobs.  The working class will move upwards into the middle class and that’s how it works.  Naturally, such policies take no account of how human beings actually operate and think.  Being utility maximisers, there will be a vast explosion of tertiary students studiously engaged in busy-work courses.  All free.  These days, they will say, are the best days of our lives.  All cruisin’, no bruisin.  Take that costing of $1.2bn and double it in ten years time.

If any doubt that rough estimate of the inevitable cost and spending explosion, let us jog your memory with the vast expansion of taxpayer money now spent upon early childcare (eeeer, pre-school education) in New Zealand. It commenced in 2002 at a cost of a mere $0.6bn to the taxpayer; it rose to $1.6bn by 2012.  New Zealand is now spending more public money per child on their early “education” than any other country in the world, with the exception of Luxembourg, almost double the OECD average.  And there is no end to the increasing costs in sight.

What a negative, bitter attitude towards human beings you have, the Socialist would cavil.  On the contrary, we have a deep respect for creatures who can maximise their own personal utility in a heartbeat.  That means we regard them as clever and inventive–not as the dumb brute hidebound class-conscious socialist would regard them.  It means that we think they are so inventive and clever when maximising their own advantage, paternalistic politicians will always be caught out with the inevitable unintended consequences.  The only dumbo in the room is the oh-so-precious, paternalistic, antediluvian socialist.

But this time it will be different.  Yeah, right.  If you are really convinced that is the case, let us whisper something nobody else knows–we have a beautiful bridge over Auckland harbour we know is up for sale.

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dogs and lions


February 2016 (5)Ecclesiastes 9:4-6

4 Because whoever is connected with all the living has hope, because a living dog is better than a dead lion. 5 Because the living ones are aware of the fact that they will die, but the dead ones are aware of nothing, and they get no more wages, because people forget to even mention their name. 6 Their love and their hate and their envy have already been erased, and they have no more involvement in all that is done under the sun permanently.

dogs and lions

Solomon had first concluded that it was better to be dead than alive, but then he changed his mind. Now he argues that it is better to be alive, even though it is only temporary. Life means awareness: the dead are not aware of what is happening. Life means the ability to enjoy wages: the dead enjoy nothing. Life means being remembered by others. The dead are eventually forgotten.

His observations of life under the sun have led Solomon to reject all that religious nonsense about survival of death. He recommends enjoying life now because it is a precious gift from God. If there will be any life after this – that also will be a gift from God. Immortality is not a given. It is conditional. The conditions were met by Christ. He is our only hope or resurrection life. Without him, even great lions are just dead animals.

LORD, thank you for Christ, our only hope for eternal life.

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