permanently right

July 2015 (5)Isaiah 54:14-17

14 “You will be set permanently right, keeping far from oppression, because you will not fear it, and from terror, because it will not come near you. 15 If someone does attack, it will not be from me; whoever attacks you will fall because of you. 16 Watch! I myself have created a craftsman who is bellowing on the coal fire, and who is producing a weapon for his work; and I myself have created the destroyer to destroy. 17 Every weapon formed against you will not be successful, and you will declare guilty every tongue rising against you in judgment. This is the legacy of the servants of Yahveh, and their justice will come from me,” – a declaration of Yahveh.

permanently right

The LORD had promised a restoration to his permanent love, and permanent peace. But that peace would be from the strength and value of the people’s new foundation, not because they would never again be in conflict. No, attacks will come to the new covenant community, but those attacks would fail, because of the permanent rightness (righteousness) of the people of God. There would be weapons aimed at these righteous people, but God has created a way to win against each of those weapons. For each opponent, God has created a destroyer. For each argument in court, God has devised a counter-argument which declares the adversary guilty. There will be justice, and that justice will come from God.

LORD, inspire us with the confidence that comes from being set permanently right by your grace.


potentially blessed

July 2015 (5)“…when they saw someone who was sick, diseased, in pain, demonically oppressed, physically or mentally challenged, they no longer saw those people as cursed. They saw all of the broken people as potentially blessed by the same Christ who saved them.” –Jefferson Vann


Tsunami Warning Siren Sounds

And Why Not?

Well, that didn’t take long. 

Montana polygamist family applies for marriage license

BILLINGS – Given the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states, a Lockwood family is now looking to solidify rights of its own. . . . The polyamorous movement is a national push to allow marriage between multiple partners.  Nathan Collier and his two wives, Vicki and Christine, said Tuesday that they are simply looking for equality.  Nathan is legally married to Vicki, but also wants to legally wed Christine.

On Tuesday, Nathan and Christine traveled to the Yellowstone County Courthouse to see if they would be awarded the right to marry under the Marriage Equality Act.   Polygamy is illegal under Montana state law, and recognized as a misdemeanor offense.  “We just want to add legal legitimacy to an already happy, strong, loving family,” said Nathan.

As the two filled out their marriage application they were met with questions.  “There’s a spot on there where you put the dissolution date of your previous marriage and we put ‘not applicable,'” said Christine.  In fact, the couple was met with varied reaction from employees, who were caught off guard.  “So, are you legally married, you didn’t get divorced?” asked one clerk.   “We’ll have to deny that, let me go grab the other supervisor real quick so I can get confirmation but as far as I’m aware you can’t be married to two people at the same time,” said another clerk.

The Colliers were initially denied the license, and the clerk later returned to tell the couple that they would have to check with the Montana Attorney General’s office.  When asked for comment, the Attorney General’s office referred MTN News to two sections of Montana law, stating polygamy is illegal.  “It’s two distinct marriages, it’s two distinct unions, and for us to come together and create family, what’s wrong with that?” said Christine. “I don’t understand why it’s looked upon and frowned upon as being obscene.”

The couple’s goal is to have their story heard.  The Colliers say if the state of Montana could only recognize their marriage as legal, it could be the catalyst for other states to follow suit.  “All we want is legal legitimacy. We aren’t asking anybody for anything else. We just want to give our marriage and our family the legitimacy that it deserves,” said Nathan.

MTN News is still awaiting to hear whether or not the marriage application was officially denied.
If it’s accepted, it would be the first in the nation.


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Daily Devotional

One State or the Other

On freedom (and predestination)

C. S. Lewis

It will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up. That will not be the time for choosing: it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realised it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It will not last forever. We must take it or leave it.

Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.

From Mere Christianity
Compiled in Words to Live By
Mere Christianity. Copyright © 1952, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1980, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
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The Age of the Sophists

Epistemological Sandcastles

Yesterday we published a piece on a false dichotomy being perpetrated throughout schools and colleges in the United States.  The dichotomy alleges that a proposition is either a fact or an opinion.  It also alleges that an opinion can never be true.  Only facts can be true.  It goes further: morals are statements of opinion, not fact.  Therefore, they also can never be true.

Suppressed in all of this nonsense are the presuppositions of empiricism and materialism.  In other words, materialism and empiricism are presupposed as truths and facts.  Then the implications are worked through to morals, facts, opinions, ethics and so forth.  Naturally, when school children and naive college students are exposed to this kind of sophistry, the presuppositions upon which their whole castle of epistemic sand is built are kept carefully hidden behind closed doors.  Concealing the family secrets is the order of the day. 

Nevertheless, the sandcastle is washed away by a simple question: is the dichotomy that a proposition is either a fact or an opinion, a fact or an opinion?  The only answer possible is that it is an opinion, and therefore, according to the dichotomy itself, is untrue.  Truth, after all, belongs only to those things which can be empirically proven as facts.

In summary, it is scandalous but illuminating that the epistemologies which reign in the secular schools of the United States in these days (that is, pretty much most schools) amount to little more than vacuous, empty sophistry.  Let us remind ourselves that the sophists of the ancient world were radical relativists, synonymous with speciousness and deception.  Nothing much has changed.  Some things cannot change their spots.

Let’s get our children into Christian schools so they can be taught to think truthfully and clearly.  Anything less would be a travesty.

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permanent peace

July 2015 (4)Isaiah 54:9-13

9 “This is like the water of Noah to me, because when I promised to keep the water of Noah from the passing again over the land, so I promised not to get angry at you and rebuke you. 10 Because the mountains may withdraw, and the hills may shake loose, but my covenant loyalty will not depart from you, and my covenant of peace will not shake loose,” says Yahveh, who feels compassion for you, 11 “O needy, storm-driven one, not given rest. Watch! I am setting your gems in a permanent setting, and I am laying your foundation with sapphires. 12 And I will set your fortifications with ruby, and your stone gates with beryl, and all your wall with valuable stones. 13 And all your children will be students of Yahveh, and there will be intense peace upon your children.”

permanent peace

After Noah’s flood, God set his rainbow in the sky as a promise to never again disturb the peace of his planet with an overwhelming act of judgment. He reminds his people of that promise when he now promises to re-establish Israel as a nation at peace with their husband-Lord. That peace will be permanent this time because of what he is going to do in Israel, not just for them. He is resetting their value system. The foundation stones of the new Israel will be valuable gems, set in permanent settings. Their children will learn from Yahveh himself, and will experience rav shalom – intense peace. Like the planet after the flood, Israel will be over its catastrophe, and ready to start anew.

This is a promise for believers in Christ as well. Jesus gave his peace to us, a peace not affected by the trouble we will face before his return.[1] It is a peace that comes from strength to endure those troubles. Like precious stones set in a permanent setting, we will not be moved by the troubles around us. We will experience permanent peace as each generation learns from him.

LORD, we accept your promise of permanent peace through the strength that only you can give.

[1] John 14:27.


looking for broken people

July 2015 (4)“You know why some churches die? Some churches die because their members keep looking for more healthy members to help them grow their church. Those who are healthy do not need a doctor. Growing churches are made up of crowds who follow Jesus into their neighbourhoods and look for more people who need Jesus as much as they do.” –Jefferson Vann


Empty Sophistry

Why Our Children Don’t Think There Are Moral Facts

New York Times
What would you say if you found out that our public schools were teaching children that it is not true that it’s wrong to kill people for fun or cheat on tests? Would you be surprised?
I was. As a philosopher, I already knew that many college-aged students don’t believe in moral facts. While there are no national surveys quantifying this phenomenon, philosophy professors with whom I have spoken suggest that the overwhelming majority of college freshmen in their classrooms view moral claims as mere opinions that are not true or are true only relative to a culture.
What I didn’t know was where this attitude came from. Given the presence of moral relativism in some academic circles, some people might naturally assume that philosophers themselves are to blame. But they aren’t. There are historical examples of philosophers who endorse a kind of moral relativism, dating back at least to Protagoras who declared that “man is the measure of all things,” and several who deny that there are any moral facts whatsoever. But such creatures are rare. Besides, if students are already showing up to college with this view of morality, it’s very unlikely that it’s the result of what professional philosophers are teaching. So where is the view coming from?
A few weeks ago, I learned that students are exposed to this sort of thinking well before crossing the threshold of higher education. When I went to visit my son’s second grade open house, I found a troubling pair of signs hanging over the bulletin board. They read:
Fact: Something that is true about a subject and can be tested or proven.
Opinion: What someone thinks, feels, or believes.
Hoping that this set of definitions was a one-off mistake, I went home and Googled “fact vs. opinion.” The definitions I found online were substantially the same as the one in my son’s classroom. As it turns out, the Common Core standards used by a majority of K-12 programs in the country require that students be able to “distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.” And the Common Core institute provides a helpful page full of links to definitions, lesson plans and quizzes to ensure that students can tell the difference between facts and opinions.
So what’s wrong with this distinction and how does it undermine the view that there are objective moral facts?

First, the definition of a fact waffles between truth and proof — two obviously different features. Things can be true even if no one can prove them. For example, it could be true that there is life elsewhere in the universe even though no one can prove it. Conversely, many of the things we once “proved” turned out to be false. For example, many people once thought that the earth was flat. It’s a mistake to confuse truth (a feature of the world) with proof (a feature of our mental lives). Furthermore, if proof is required for facts, then facts become person-relative. Something might be a fact for me if I can prove it but not a fact for you if you can’t. In that case, E=MC2 is a fact for a physicist but not for me.
But second, and worse, students are taught that claims are either facts or opinions. They are given quizzes in which they must sort claims into one camp or the other but not both. But if a fact is something that is true and an opinion is something that is believed, then many claims will obviously be both. For example, I asked my son about this distinction after his open house. He confidently explained that facts were things that were true whereas opinions are things that are believed. We then had this conversation:
Me: “I believe that George Washington was the first president. Is that a fact or an opinion?”
Him: “It’s a fact.”
Me: “But I believe it, and you said that what someone believes is an opinion.”
Him: “Yeah, but it’s true.”
Me: “So it’s both a fact and an opinion?”
The blank stare on his face said it all.
How does the dichotomy between fact and opinion relate to morality? I learned the answer to this question only after I investigated my son’s homework (and other examples of assignments online). Kids are asked to sort facts from opinions and, without fail, every value claim is labeled as an opinion. Here’s a little test devised from questions available on fact vs. opinion worksheets online: are the following facts or opinions?

— Copying homework assignments is wrong.

— Cursing in school is inappropriate behavior.
— All men are created equal.
— It is worth sacrificing some personal liberties to protect our country from terrorism.
— It is wrong for people under the age of 21 to drink alcohol.
— Vegetarians are healthier than people who eat meat.

— Drug dealers belong in prison.
The answer? In each case, the worksheets categorize these claims as opinions. The explanation on offer is that each of these claims is a value claim and value claims are not facts. This is repeated ad nauseum: any claim with good, right, wrong, etc. is not a fact.  In summary, our public schools teach students that all claims are either facts or opinions and that all value and moral claims fall into the latter camp. The punchline: there are no moral facts. And if there are no moral facts, then there are no moral truths.
The inconsistency in this curriculum is obvious. For example, at the outset of the school year, my son brought home a list of student rights and responsibilities. Had he already read the lesson on fact vs. opinion, he might have noted that the supposed rights of other students were based on no more than opinions. According to the school’s curriculum, it certainly wasn’t true that his classmates deserved to be treated a particular way — that would make it a fact. Similarly, it wasn’t really true that he had any responsibilities — that would be to make a value claim a truth. It should not be a surprise that there is rampant cheating on college campuses
If we’ve taught our students for 12 years that there is no fact of the matter as to whether cheating is wrong, we can’t very well blame them for doing so later on.  Indeed, in the world beyond grade school, where adults must exercise their moral knowledge and reasoning to conduct themselves in the society, the stakes are greater. There, consistency demands that we acknowledge the existence of moral facts. If it’s not true that it’s wrong to murder a cartoonist with whom one disagrees, then how can we be outraged? If there are no truths about what is good or valuable or right, how can we prosecute people for crimes against humanity? If it’s not true that all humans are created equal, then why vote for any political system that doesn’t benefit you over others?
Our schools do amazing things with our children. And they are, in a way, teaching moral standards when they ask students to treat one another humanely and to do their schoolwork with academic integrity. But at the same time, the curriculum sets our children up for doublethink. They are told that there are no moral facts in one breath even as the next tells them how they ought to behave.
We can do better. Our children deserve a consistent intellectual foundation. Facts are things that are true. Opinions are things we believe. Some of our beliefs are true. Others are not. Some of our beliefs are backed by evidence. Others are not. Value claims are like any other claims: either true or false, evidenced or not. The hard work lies not in recognizing that at least some moral claims are true but in carefully thinking through our evidence for which of the many competing moral claims is correct. That’s a hard thing to do. But we can’t sidestep the responsibilities that come with being human just because it’s hard.

That would be wrong.

Justin P. McBrayer is an associate professor of philosophy at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo. He works in ethics and philosophy of religion.

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Daily Devotional

Mere Adjectives  

On self-suffiency

C. S. Lewis

They [Adam and Eve] wanted, as we say, to “call their souls their own.” But that means to live a lie, for our souls are not, in fact, our own. They wanted some corner in the universe of which they could say to God, “This is our business, not yours.” But there is no such corner. They wanted to be nouns, but they were, and eternally must be, mere adjectives.

From The Problem of Pain  Compiled in Words to Live By
The Problem of Pain. Copyright © 1940, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright restored © 1996 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
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The Reign of the PR Meisters

Getting Away With Horrendous Crime For Years

The fruits of Unbelief, nurtured in self-sufficient “we know best” delusions, are devastating.  The curses of the Covenant are never pretty, never noble, never nice.  We have followed the horrible story of authorities in various English towns and boroughs turning Nelson’s eye to horrific, systemic crime because they feared being labelled racist or of being accused of exacerbating community tensions.

Behold the cowardly inversion of the childhood proverb: “sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”  In our rebellion against the Lord Jesus Christ, the rotten fruits of Unbelief have made words or labels hurtful–so much so that it is better to witness the vulnerable being tormented with far worse than with sticks and stones, than risk being defamed as a racist.  Cowardice is ever the mark of the Enemy.

Police Withheld Child Grooming Gang Report For Five Years For Fear Of Stoking Racial Tension

by Sarkis Zeronian

West Midlands Police withheld a report warning that more than 100 predominantly white children – some only 13 years old – were at serious risk of child exploitation for fear it could inflame racial tension ahead of a General Election. It was finally revealed today, under the Freedom of Information Act, that Britain’s second largest police force withheld the March 2010 document – ‘Problem Profile, Operation Protection’ – which set out how grooming gangs of 75 mainly Muslim men from Birmingham targeted schools and children’s homes across the West Midlands.
The Daily Mail reports the document also described the use of white girls to recruit other vulnerable targets on the gangs’ behalf, but fears of prompting confrontation ahead of the May 2010 General Election and an English Defence League rally in April leading to a “backlash against law abiding citizens from Asian/Pakistani communities” led to the report being suppressed.
It appears that the motivation for the secrecy is similar to that lying behind the Rotherham cover up scandal.  There police and social workers stand accused of being too concerned about being labelled racist to prosecute properly the sex crimes involving 1,400 children.
Despite receiving the warnings which identified a potential 139 victims of which more than half were aged 13 to 15, senior officers in the West Midlands did not warn the public or appeal for information about the men responsible, most with a history of sexual violence. The victims were from Birmingham, Dudley and Walsall, half lived with their parents and 41 per cent were in care.  The Daily Mail quotes several passages, albeit heavily redacted for publication. One reads: 
“In (redacted) a teacher at a (redacted) that a group of Asian males were approaching pupils at the school gate and grooming them. Strong anecdotal evidence shows this MO (modus operandi) is being used across the force.  Operations in other forces have identified an MO where offenders use a young girl in a children’s home to target and groom other residents on their behalf.

“This has also been evidenced within the force in (redacted) and (redacted). The girl’s motivation to recruit new victims is often that the provision of new girls provides her a way to escape the cycle of abuse.”
Another passage states:
“The vast majority of identified suspects (79 per cent) are Asian (59 of 75), 12 per cent are white and five per cent are African Caribbean. 62 per cent of Asian suspects are of Pakistani origin. Pakistani males account for half of all identified suspects in the force (37 of 75). Offenders are likely to have a history of previous sexual offences, as well as a wide range of other offences and convictions.

“A high level of organised criminality has now been evidenced both across the force area and regionally, with multiple offenders working together to identify, groom and abuse victims.
“In a number of organised groups victims are forced into prostitution and high levels of intimidation and force are used to keep the victims compliant.”
The report set out the problems of inflaming community tension in the following passage which explained why it was covered up:
“The predominant offender profile of Pakistani Muslim males… combined with the predominant victim profile of white females has the potential to cause significant community tensions. There is a potential for a backlash against the vast majority of law abiding citizens from Asian/Pakistani communities from other members of the community believing their children have been exploited.

“These factors, combined with an EDL protest in Dudley in April and a General Election in May could notably increase community tension. Police will be criticised if it appears we have not safeguarded vulnerable children, investigated offences and prosecuted offenders.”
The Daily Mail reports the opinion of Barnado’s chief executive Javed Khan: “Because so many vulnerable children were ignored by the authorities, groomers got away with exploiting them for years. Ensuring the cases against groomers go to trial is vital in giving sexually exploited children confidence that the justice system does work for them; that if they come forward, they will be believed and supported.”
West Midlands Police now claim to have changed their approach following “significant cultural change within the force” and that “as a result of our efforts and without doubt the coverage within local and national media, we are seeing more victims coming forward to report abuse, knowing we will take their allegations seriously and treat them sensitively and respectfully.”

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