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December 2004 Blog Archives

Friday, December 31

8:46 AM I'm sitting here reading Acts 2 and thinking about evangelism. Now here's a missions opportunity that's just begging for me to participate in. I can already hear them playing "Aloha Oe" on their ukuleles. Or is it "Hawaii Pono I"? (Head slap.) Stop your dithering, Dave, the car shed roof is awaiting you.

8:43 AM Mark over at Gimme Back My Bullets joins the growing "chorus" of voices questioning the need for choirs in our churches. He has a nice summary of arguments. I don't want to speak for anyone but myself, but I know there's a grave need for more participation in our services than we currently have. At least our choir still sings the great hymns of the faith and a few of us can actually read music - which is becoming a lost art today. That's one of the prices we are paying for giving up hymnals and going with an overhead instead. If I had my druthers, I'd like to see the entire congregation bring whatever musical instrument they have and together blend their talents and voices in praise to God. I've seen this done, in fact, in home churches. Then again, in Ethiopia there was nary an instrument to be seen anywhere in church but some of the best praise music I have ever heard!

And one more thing: Stop with the cheeseball canned music already!

8:35 AM You should look up ninny in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then read this gushy essay

So take heart. As we head into a new year, both the U.S. and the world are growing safer, healthier, and less violent. Most of the world is getting freer.

8:23 AM It's not my cup of tea, but it might be yours. The One Year Bible Blog, that is. Here's a companion site.

8:18 AM It's hard to say what I loved the most about this great article about the short-lived Bush honeymoon. Folks, 3 million votes out of 120 million is hardly a mandate.

Thursday, December 30

5:36 PM Guess who's been nominated (scroll to the bottom) for the best culture blog of 2004? Let's see, there's Carmon Friedrich (great choice!), then there's Izzy Lyman (another great choice!), then there's little ol' DBO. I feel truly honored to be mentioned in such great company. Aakash, you are too much!

4:55 PM SERMON FOR DAVE: Yesterday I complained about being sore. Well, today I am sooooore. We got the basic structure of the car shed built today, which entailed lifting heavy cedar and pine posts into place and nailing them together with spikes (not nails). At the end of the work day I could hardly grip a pencil in my hand. I keep thinking of those pioneer farmers who did everything by hand. At least we have a tractor to help us smcorn.gif (1800 bytes)with our building and farming. So while we can still call the land "the good earth" since God created it, it has been marred by sin, and as a result our labor is hard work permeated with "thorns and thistles" - i.e., tons of obstacles. It will be that way until Jesus comes, so get to use to it, Dave!

OK, sermon's over for tonight.

4:49 PM I'm not the first person to blog about how animals seem to have a sixth sense, but now the topic has come up with reference to the tragedy in the Indian Ocean.

Sri Lankan wildlife officials have said the giant waves that killed over 24,000 people along the Indian Ocean island's coast seemingly missed wild beasts, with no dead animals found.

I don't know what it is, but my Sheltie can tell just by looking in my eyes whether I'm telling him we're going for a walk or he is to bark or he can lick my ice cream bowl, or any number of other behaviors. And at least one of my horses needs absolutely no aids to get him to walk, trot, or canter. I just think it and it's done. It now seems that animals can feel subtle vibrations in the earth long before humans can. Amazing!

4:42 PM Pay attention to the "Peroutka 2004" site. It'll soon change to "God, Family, Republic." I just hope it keeps the John Lofton stuff.

8:59 AM Rewriting TULIP?

8:57 AM Growing up in Hawaii, we often heard the tsunami warning sirens whenever there was an earthquake in the Aleutians. Everyone had to evacuate to higher ground, causing considerable inconvenience to businesses (especially tourism). This happened on several occasions, but we had learned our lesson from the great April Fool's tidal wave that practically wiped out Hilo. So you can image that my eyes bugged out when I read this report that Thailand could have been warned about the approaching killer waves:

“The very important factor in making the decision was that it’s high [tourist] season and hotel rooms were nearly 100-per-cent full. If we issued a warning, which would have led to evacuation, [and if nothing happened], what would happen then? Business would be instantaneously affected. It would be beyond the Meteorological Department’s ability to handle. We could go under, if [the tsunami] didn’t come,” said a source who attended the meeting.

Perhaps they assumed that the tsunami would be blocked by Sumatra. I don't know. But tourism can't be that important, can it? Meanwhile, watch out for tsunami relief scams.

8:55 AM If you're reading this little blog of mine, you might be wondering which of my web pages receive the most  hits. (OK, maybe you aren't wondering about it, but I am.) So, while I'm in a reflective mood, here are the Top Ten hits at DBO in the month of December:

8:43 AM I still think the Internet is underused by evangelicals to get the Word out. Especially among the post-literate. By the way, there's now a term for them:  Generation Text.

8:40 AM Children, the hardest hit.

Hannes Bergman is searching for his mother.

8:23 AM One of my daily stops is the Dow Blog. His posts are witty, insightful, and hopeful. His latest post on education is fantastic.

8:14 AM Antiquities trading in the Holy Land is, at best, a murky business.

7:45 AM I would never belong to a church that everyone knew as "Pastor So-and-So's church," this man usually being the "senior" pastor. The Bible makes it very clear that, while corporate instruction is limited to men (1 Tim, 2:11-12), all elders teach, not just one (1 Tim. 5:17). All elders are to be "apt to teach"( 1 Tim. 3:2). All elders are to be "pastor-teachers" (Eph. 4:11). To paraphrase Phil Lancaster, it is an affront to Jesus Christ and an insult to the other elders in the church for any pastor to assume the title Senior Pastor.

There’s Only One “Senior Pastor” and It’s Not Us!

7:18 AM A Catholic theologian who was rebuked by the Pope for saying that all religions lead to God has died. Question: Why are evangelicals silent about our theologian-in-chief who says that Christians and Muslims pray to the same God? Immediately I'm struck by the RCC's willingness to confront (certain types of) heresy and our persistent head-in-the-sand approach toward theological heresy of the most egregious kind.

7:16 AM If you have been reading my blog for any length of time you know that I think the world of this Greek professor. Here's a statement of his that is dynamite:

I find there exactly the same evils that are rampant in the world -- centralized education programs, the subservience of the church to the state, contempt for the rights of minorities, standardization of everything, suppression of intellectual adventure....I see more clearly than ever before that unless the gospel is true and there is another world, our souls are in prison. The gospel of Christ is a blessed relief from that sinful state of affairs commonly known as hundred per-cent Americanism.

7:13 AM OK, we don't do the gift thing at Christmas, but if we did, I'd ask Santa for this book.

Blog : Understanding the Information Reformation That's Changing Your World

Wednesday, December 29

6:15 PM A warm welcome to the blogosphere, David. I look forward to reading your posts. Best wishes to you!

5:55 PM The other day I mentioned that my Arab and Thoroughbred have almost become inseparable. So today I rode both horses - at the same time. Well, not exactly. I saddled up Cody and off we went, Traveler cantering on the starboard side in gleeful abandon. The goats tried to follow but couldn't keep up. What a blast! What buddies!

5:43 PM Cutter and hauler. My son's job and mine, respectively. There's nothing like the smell of freshly cut pine and cedar. We hated to cut down such beautiful trees, but our 1820s-style "carriage house" (aka, carport) needs to be done before the heavy snows arrive next month. Some of the pines we hauled (by hand) topped 25 feet. Tomorrow we dig the post holes and begin construction. Tonight I feel - well, sore.

11:30 AM TSUNAMI UPDATE: Here's an important FYI from Baptist Press. Tonight I think we'll take an offering at our prayer meeting.

Southern Baptists and other Christians can help by sending financial gifts for aid through the IMB disaster relief fund. Send gifts designated "Asia Earthquake Disaster Relief" to the International Mission Board, P.O. Box 6767, Richmond, Va., 23230 (to give online, go to the International Mission Board's website,, and click on "Give Now" in the box highlighting this story). All funds given will go to relief efforts; none will be used for administrative costs.

11:20 AM QOTD:

If there is a religion that should be rejecting blind acceptance of the status quo it is Christianity, [but] Christianity has done a rotten job of sticking to its revolutionary roots and has come in many ways to represent the very things to which Christ stood in opposition. Andy de Lapp

10:50 AM Just got a very kind invitation to teach Intermediate Greek at the Meserete Christos college in Addis Ababa next summer. This is the Mennonite school in whose chapel I spoke last November. I hope I can fit this in. I am already scheduled to teach elementary Greek for six weeks at the Evangelical Theological College there in June and July, after returning from our Reformation Tour to Germany, France, and Switzerland. It's shaping up to be another busy summer. Isn't God good?

10:40 AM Yesterday I talked about visiting with my in-laws, who served in Ethiopia with SIM. It's now my turn, I guess, to receive letters from my (former) students in Ethiopia. May I share one with you?

Dear father Dr. Black:

Last time you gave a wonderful book, "It's Still Greek to Me." May God bless you. The week which you spent with us was a wonderful week. God spoke to us in many ways through you and your wife. It is very difficult to get someone who is equipped with both spiritually and knowledge. Glory to God for he has given you this amazing gift. May God be with you.

8:37 AM In the vein of "making spirits bright" this essay should make you truly happy this Christmas season, especially if you thought Michael New was a traitor for not wearing UN Blue. For the full story, go here.

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8:28 AM Here's what you get when baggage handlers call in "sick" on Christmas Day. Not to worry, though. The government has launched an "investigation."


8:23 AM DRAFT UPDATE: Here's another good reason to get your kids out of government schools pronto.

Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the DOE is required to send home a notice every year that includes several types of disclosures, including that student contact information could be given to military recruiters.

8:20 AM A post-9/11 bump in seminary enrolment?

7:25 AM Justin Raimondo suggests (tongue in cheek) that we should have nuked Iraq, thus saving American lives and limbs, citing this disturbing report recommending the intentional targeting of noncombatants. This is eerie, folks. When we look back at the Iraqi debacle years from now and begin writing the new history books, guys like Raimondo and Pat Buchanan will be chapters in those annals, as they deserve to be. Still, you have to wonder: How many more lives will it take before we declare "victory" and leave? As Raimondo writes:

Remind me again why American soldiers are fighting and dying in Iraq. Is it so they can hand the fruits of their "victory" over to Iran? Did some kid from Kansas get his arm blown away, and lose half his face, so the mullahs of Iraq could establish an Islamic "republic"?

7:18 AM You saw it here first (maybe).

2004 Year-End Google Zeitgeist

7:14 AM I ain't got it. German schools are horrible, but the German authorities outlaw the only sensible alternative? I still ain't got it!

7:10 AM The Real Lincoln : A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War by Thomas J. DiLorenzo. Read it if you haven't already.

7:05 AM The reason the New Testament was written in Greek (and not some other language) is due to one fact: a man named Alexander. But do we really need a dumbed-down "version" of his (love) life? This is ridiculous, people! Stick to history!

7:01 AM Did you know that il Papa is speaking out against watching TV or football games on Sundays? Good for him. As far as I can tell, anyone who champs at the bit during the meeting of the church because he can't wait to get home to watch his favorite team has his priorities real messed up. Why not simply luxuriate in the Lord on the Day of His Resurrection? That's what they did in the early church when they had a communal meal and a time of mutual sharing/exhortation. (By the way, don't you love that term - luxuriate? Shades of Christian hedonism!)

lux·u·ri·ate   Audio pronunciation of "luxuriate" ( P )  Pronunciation Key  (lg-zhr-t, lk-shr-)
intr.v. lux·u·ri·at·ed, lux·u·ri·at·ing, lux·u·ri·ates
  1. To take luxurious pleasure; indulge oneself.
  2. To proliferate.
  3. To grow profusely; thrive.

[Latin luxurire, luxurit-, to be luxuriant, from luxuria, luxury. See luxury.]

Tuesday, December 28

1:14 PM This goes out to everyone thinking about making New Year's resolutions. Yes, it's very convicting. I think it's safe to call Jonathan Edwards a great Christian! Read 70 Effective Resolutions.

12:45 PM Let us remember that all authority has been given to Christ. Jesus said so Himself (Matt. 28:18). Leaders, therefore, are not "over" the church in authority. Be careful of faulty translations that might imply otherwise. One is Acts 20:28: "...over whom the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers." This mistranslates the Greek preposition en as "over." The text actually reads "among whom...." Another example is Hebrews 13:17. Are leaders to "rule" and are we to "obey"? In the Greek there is no idea whatsoever of authority/power on the one hand, or blind, slavish obedience on the other. "Rule" means "stand before" or "lead," while "obey" is in the passive voice and means "allow yourselves to be persuaded by." The point is clear:

Jesus Christ alone is the one Head of the Church.

If this is so, shouldn't our church structures reflect that fact?

Monday, December 27

2:30 PM For anyone looking for an intelligible explanation for the terrible tragedy that occurred in the Indian Ocean, I highly recommend you spend some time reading the wisdom of a great Baptist preacher of yesteryear, Charles Haddon Spurgeon:

"The desire to know the times and the seasons is a craze with many poor bodies whose insanity runs in that particular groove. Every occurrence is a 'sign of the times': a sign, I may add, which they do not understand.

An earthquake is a special favourite with them. 'Now,' they cry, 'the Lord is coming'; as if there had not been earthquakes of the sort we have heard of lately hundreds of times since our Lord went up into heaven. When the prophetic earthquakes occur in divers places, we shall know of it without the warnings of these brethren.

What a number of persons have been infatuated by the number of the beast, and have been ready to leap for joy because they have found the number 666 in some great one's name. Why, everybody's name will yield that number if you treat it judiciously, and use the numerals of Greece, Rome, Egypt, China, or Timbuctoo.

I feel weary with the silly way in which some people make toys out of Scripture, and play with texts as with a pack of cards. Whenever you meet with a man who sets up to be a prophet, keep out of his way in the future; and when you hear of signs and wonders, turn to your Lord, and in patience possess your souls. 'The just shall live by faith.' There is no other way of living among wild enthusiasts."

10:18 AM I want to extend a warm welcome to new visitors to DBO from,, and Thanks also to the editors of the sites for posting links to our site or referring to our essays!

10:14 AM Jim Rudd, who does a fantastic job at Covenant News, just sent me this email:

Hi Dave,

On your blog today you ask: "why do most evangelicals still not get it?"

I believe the great majority of the Church in America today is manipulated by public relation practitioners using the social sciences through secular news media -- TV and print.


As usual, Jim is right. It is perhaps an understatement to say that the evangelical right is manipulated by the secular press. Statist mags such as World Magazine don't help much either.

9:10 AM My father-in-law just had an interesting question about the origin of language, and we found this great site with loads of information to help us. Check it out!

8:40 AM Emails like the following one always grab my attention. But I'm just wondering, why do most evangelicals still not get it?

Dear Mr. Black,

I enjoyed reading on your website of your intelligently critical approach to
faith and politics, and its current unfortunate "marriage".

In history I find sometimes that the rule "watch what you wish for" seems to apply. One grotesque example was the pervasive anti-semitism of early
20th-century Europe, where many hoped long that someone in power would finally put the Jews in their place. When that hope was eventually answered it had devastating consequences for all.

Evangelicals have for decades worn their knees down to nubbins praying for a true born-again Christian president and a Republican Congress so that God's will might finally be done on Earth, as though the Creator of All needed to hold American office to accomplish His will. Many Christians uncritically embraced Bush Jr. as the answer to these prayers. The insanity we've witnessed these past five years, from presidential vacations as terrorist threats loom large to the awarding of a medal to the most fumbling CIA director of all time, is a result of this uncritical embrace.

It appears that Christians continue to support Bush despite the fact that
many of the issues they'd hoped would be dealt with lie forgotten. I fear
things will become worse in America and the world before the attitude you
demonstrate catches on in the Christian community.

I hope your work prospers and spreads quickly. And I doubt that's a hope
I'll regret.

Bill G.

8:34 AM ALEXA A FAD? Ever notice how Alexa ratings used to be a big deal at certain websites? I've noted that some of them (such as LRC and Dixie Daily News) have removed their Alexa charts after their ratings began plummeting. It's all become a big joke, really, as this "bolster-your-Alexa-ratings" site indicates. (Below: LRC's ratings slump.)

At the same time, some of the best sites on the web have abysmal Alexa ratings. I'd venture to guess most people don't care anyway, unless they're advertisers.  

8:23 AM How's this for a knock-dead graphic? The story I found it in is also an eye-opener. Read Why Did George W. Bush Let Osama bin Laden Escape from Tora Bora? 

8:15 AM Wow. A whole year has gone by. Here are some ideas for your reading wish list:

DBO’s Books of the Year

Sunday, December 26

1:55 PM TRUE CONFESSIONS: It is interesting to see some of my favorite bloggers leaving the blogosphere. I write online because I love writing, not because I don't have other things to do, and certainly not because I can't (or don't) write anywhere else. I simply have things in my head that have to come out. I try to tell the truth as I see it, but I don't assume that anyone will agree with what I have to say. After a year of blogging I still feel like I'm trying to find my voice, and I have a constant conversation within me about how to blog and when. For better or for worse, I opt not to remain silent about most topics, but writing down my thoughts is a good way of setting them in concrete. I also try to post interesting links on my site - within minutes of an important news story you can get the word out and even have a comment or two to make about it.

Of course, I need to be very careful about what I write or link - there's always a slim chance someone out there might read it!

At any rate, happy web-logging to me - and to you, fellow blogsters!

1:14 PM Speaking of Jim Elliott, here's my favorite quote of his:

Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God. 

12:55 PM This evening we will be with Mama B and Grand-Daddy (my wife's parents) at an Ethiopian restaurant in Raleigh for some of the best cuisine in the world. Hot and spicy. I can already taste the injera, the Doro Wat, the Kai Wat, the Ethiopian Coffee. I can't wait for my father-in-law to see the video tape we shot in Ethiopia, including the testimonies from dozens of his former students attesting the impact he and Mrs. Lapsley had in their lives. Jim Elliott, martyred missionary to the Auca Indians, put it in Portrait of Jim Elliotthese memorable words:

Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth! I care not if I never raise my voice again for Him, if only I may love Him, please Him. Mayhap in mercy He shall give me a host of children that I may lead them through the vast star fields to explore His delicacies whose finger ends set them to burning. But if not, if only I may see Him, touch His garments, and smile into His eyes - ah then, not stars nor children shall matter, only Himself.

God indeed granted mom and dad a "host of children," and it is now our generation's turn to do our part. But why am I blithering on this way? You already know how much we love the Ethiopians!

12:39 PM Our little congregation (25 in attendance on any given Sunday morning) has given more than $1,500 this month to missions, including a very generous gift to the church in Burji, Ethiopia. All out of a heart of love. They say good things often come in small packages.... How I love the folk at Averett Baptist Church!

9:15 AM Just got an email correcting my use of "cow" to refer to our male calf Bert. What a strange trip the cyber highway can be.

9:14 AM The way things are going in our nation....

Ordering Pizza In 2008

9:10 AM Now here's a subversive thought.

Let me see if I have this right. Hundreds — if not thousands — more Americans will have to die, thousands more Iraqis will have to die, and we at home will have to cough up hundreds of billions of dollars more out of our pockets because a thoughtless, insensitive President decided to invade a foreign country without having the good sense to personally check the evidence justifying the invasion.

He could have thrown in RatherGate and election politics for good measure.

8:48 AM Not to pound a dead horse, but the question of how many units of biblical languages should be required in our seminaries assumes we answer another question first: Are pastors "preachers" or "teachers"? As I've stated my opinion elsewhere (see below), I'll only add that although mastering the languages is a rough road, it's the only way to go if we want to be able to teach the Word with credibility and authority.

No More Excuses: Pastors Must Get Serious About Teaching Their Flocks

Let Pastors Teach!

8:45 AM The Baptist Board is currently pondering this question: How much Greek and Hebrew should be required in seminary? Perhaps the best comment comes from PreachinJesus:

Without the understanding and ability to competently work in the original langauges our pulpits will languish in doctrinal malaise and find it hard to produce competent, meaningful exposition based on an understanding of the text and not some happy-go-lucky topical idea.

All I can say to that is: Amen.

Saturday, December 25

11:39 AM In the latest twist on reality, an artist has rendered Jesus' face at the age of 12, based on the Shroud of Turin. This discovery may be unprecedented in all of human history. I know these are troubling times, but do we really need this kind of humor to cheer us up?

10:12 AM The new issue of News With Views has a great essay by Paul Proctor on our pseudo-conservative government in Washington. Here's what we can expect from them:

1. Roe vs. Wade will not be overturned
2. Human cloning and fetal stem cell research will proceed as planned
3. Euthanasia will abound
4. Homosexuality will be exalted, protected and promoted more than ever
5. The government will go right on growing itself at an alarming rate
6. Taxes will rise unabated
7. Debt and deficits will soar to unprecedented levels
8. Congress will vote themselves more and more raises
9. The dollar will decline into nothingness
10. Corruption and waste will increase dramatically
11. Public education will continue teaching theory over truth
12. Prime time TV will become porn time TV and involve younger people
13. Sex will be used to sell more products and services than ever before
14. Freedom and privacy will forever fade into memories
15. Violence, war and occult activity will become the norm and…
16. Those who persist in proclaiming the absolute truth of God’s Word will be ever more harassed, arrested, fined, incarcerated, persecuted, tortured, and/or killed, for their faithfulness.

I think Paul is essentially correct that the emerging New Right in America will have little or no positive impact on the culture.

10:10 AM Well, as much as I want the whole Iraq thing to die down, I simply can't resist:

One must support the troops, I am told. I certainly support the troops the best way possible: Bring them home, get them out of a war for which the planning was inadequate, the training nonexistent, the goal obscure, and the equipment and especially the armor for their vehicles inferior. They are brave men and women who believe they are fighting to defend their country and have become sitting ducks for fanatics. Those who die are the victims of the big lie. They believe that they are fighting to prevent another terror attack on the United States. They are not the war criminals. The ''Vulcans,'' as the Bush foreign policy team calls itself, are the criminals, and they ought to face indictment as war criminals.

I'm sure this discussion will continue for a long time. I promise to pick it up again in future blog posts and essays.

10:05 AM CHRISTMAS PLANS: Get the house ready for my in-laws, who will be visiting us from Dallas. Cut down cedars for the car shed posts (weather permitting). Take puppy for long walk. Feed oats to horses. Sing at Meadowview, the convalescent hospital in town. (Can you believe that most of these folks never have a single visitor on Christmas? But that's a topic for another time.) Relax and listen to Hodie and Gloria.

9:55 AM Tom Ascol says to forget about trying to keep Christ in Christmas. We need to keep Christ in Christianity. So there you have it.

9:53 AM Robert Webber is the author of The Younger Evangelicals. In it he predicts: "Lots of people are starting neighborhood groups or house churches. The emerging church is being birthed underground. Give it a few years, and it's going to explode." There is a great deal of frustration out there with the traditional church. Perhaps the best comment comes from A. W. Tozer: “We must have a new reformation. There must come a violent break with the irresponsible, amusement-mad paganized pseudo-religion which passes today for the faith of Christ and which is being spread all over the world by unspiritual men employing unscriptural methods to achieve their end.” Last year at this time I wondered the same thing about our Christmas celebrations, which tend to squeeze out the centrality of the cross. I'll have more to say later, but if you want my take on Christ's Mass, go here.

9:50 AM FARM UPDATE: We finished the smoke house yesterday. Just need to complete the shelving, then we'll store our reenacting stuff inside. What I'm still trying to figure out is: Why do people let these quaint old structures self-destruct through time and neglect? At any rate, their loss is (often) our gain. Now the question is: Anyone know of an old horse barn someone wants moved? Well, maybe we'll just do it ourselves and have an old-fashioned barn raising.

Friday, December 24

6:25 PM While we were in Azanou's village I sketched the portraits of the children we met. It was neat to see the expressions of glee when I presented the kids with their likenesses. I found drawing to be a good ice-breaker wherever we traveled in Ethiopia. The young lady I am sketching here finally sold me one of her baskets - after I had talked the price down about 50%. She kept pleading with me that she needed my ballpoint pen for her school work. Before we left the village, I gave it to her.

2:42 PM When I took the photo of Azanou that appears on today's front page and in our lead essay, I never imagined this picture would mean so much to us as it does today. My wife is holding a basket she bought for a dear friend of ours (the homeschooling mom of nine children) as well as the "lunch pail" she purchased from Azanou. It is this lunch pail that I will proudly use this coming semester when I take my lunch to work. Azanou himself is holding the lunch pail he gave us as a gift of his love. The boy next to him is holding a flask made from cow's horn (which we also purchased). You can see how happy these children are despite their living conditions (no electricity, no running water, etc.). I think you can also see how easy it was for us to be touched by Azanou's condition. I did not mention it, but Azanou is from the one and only Falasha village in Ethiopia, situated near the town of Gonder. The village is comprised mostly of Ethiopian Jews. Though most of them have emigrated to Israel, a handful of mix-blooded Falashas remain in this tiny village on the road to Axum. Our tour guide made special arrangements for us to tour this site, and now we see the hand of God in it. Please pray for us as we seek the Lord's guidance for Azanou's corneal transplant operation, and if any of you have had any experiences with this procedure, feel free to share with us your perspective. And thank you so much for your prayers on behalf of Azanou.

[Country map of Ethiopia]

12:18 PM Rummy sent back to Iraq. Hmm, do ya think he shook hands with Saddam this time?

12:15 PM MODERN CHURCH MUSIC: OK, who said it?

There are several reasons for opposing it. One, it’s too new. Two, its often worldly, even blasphemous. The new Christian music is not as pleasant as the more established style because there are so many new songs, you can’t learn them all. It also puts too much emphasis on instrumental music rather than on Godly lyrics. This new music creates disturbances, making people act indecently and disorderly. The preceding generation got along without it.

The author was William Romaine, and the year was 1775.

11:23 AM It happened a week ago today. It was four o'clock in the morning when I heard a loud noise coming from the pasture. Our cow "Bert" was being savagely mauled by a hunting dog. I found Bert in the frigid pond, desperately trying to fend off his enemy. His nostrils had been reduced to mush, and he was suffering from hypothermia. Bert was dying. My son and I somehow managed to drag him out of the pond and we covered him with warm blankets. My wife administered Penicillin to ward off pneumonia. That day was freezing cold. Bert gasped for air through his mangled nose.

Today I am grateful to say that Bert is almost back to normal. The Lord healed his nostrils and he is eating normally. We spent hours tending to his needs, but it was God who brought him back to life.

I could not think of a better Christmas present.

11:20 AM Your kids will have a blast with this. I'm talking about the Dialectizer. If you haven't checked it out you simply must. Its "dialects" include Elmer Fudd:

A popular church sign reads, “Enter to Worship, Depart to Serve.” It is a well-known saying, but it is unscriptural. It might better read, “Enter to Serve, Depart to Worship.”

A popuwaw chuwch sign weads, “Entew to Wowship, Depawt to Sewve.” It is a weww-known saying, but it is unscwiptuwaw. It might bettew wead, “Entew to Sewve, Depawt to Wowship.”

This is weawwy neat!

Thursday, December 23

1:33 PM When studying in Israel I visited the ruins of the Pool of Bethesda but not of this pool

1:25 PM AMERICA AS GOD: Bush divinizes America by ascribing to our nation what can only be said about Christ:

"Ours is the cause of human dignity: freedom guided by conscience, and guarded by peace. This ideal of America is the hope of all mankind. That hope drew millions to this harbor. That hope still lights our way. And the light shines in the darkness. And the darkness will not overcome it."

Remember this the next time you read John 1:1-5.

1:23 PM How's your handwriting? Find out by entering this contest. (Sorry, no cash prizes.)

10:55 AM In Malaysia, the government wants references to Christ to be removed from carols. They may be on to something here. It wouldn't hurt us to exercise some discernment when it comes to the words of our most beloved Christmas hymns, as this essay notes.

10:36 AM I often have students ask me where they can earn an accredited European doctorate without having to relocate. The Highland Theological College in Scotland offers just such an accredited Ph.D. program. This looks like an excellent course of study. From their online catalogue:

The degrees of MPhil and PhD are research degrees with no course work involved.  They may be taken either as full-time or part-time degrees. There is no residence requirement for part-time students, although overseas part-time students should anticipate making at least one trip to the UK each year during their studies to meet with their supervisor(s). Prospective students whose first language is not English must have reached 6.5 in the IELTS examination or its equivalent prior to application.  Day to day supervision will be undertaken by an HTC supervisor.

If you are interested in other opportunities, feel free to email me and I will send you some additional links.

10:23 AM Here's a handy bookstore for you students of one of the neatest languages in the world (other than Hawaiian Pidgin, of course).

10:16 AM The largest volcano in the solar system. And I thought Mauna Kea was big.

Candor Chasma

Wednesday, December 22

6:50 AM Le mot juste:

This war was a horrible mistake. What American soldier, what innocent Iraqi citizen, will be the last to die for this mistake?

6:49 AM "Bush is the first incumbent president to have an approval rating below 50 percent one month after winning re-election." A new record - in failure! Not to worry, though. ABCCBSCNNNBCFochsNoose to the rescue!

6:47 AM Looking for that perfect Christmas gift?

Tuesday, December 21

9:15 AM There's an interesting discussion on Bible translation over at the Baptist Forum and, for what it's worth, I'll jump into the discussion for a minute. (I will, of course, leave out of the discussion for the time being the International Standard Version - both because the Old Testament isn't completed yet and because I served as the New Testament editor and am therefore totally biased.) In my opinion, the major differences between modern English translations is not so much the reading level or style of the English per se as it is the underlying Greek text. As everyone knows, there is a huge debate today between those who prefer the modern critical Greek text and those who back the so-called Majority text (often confused with the Textus Receptus). From my limited study of the science of New Testament textual criticism, it is my conclusion that, in places of textual variation, the best reading is generally found in the Byzantine text type, which is represented by the majority of Greek manuscripts. This is not, however, to say that the Byzantine text type is a perfect or pure text type. All of the major text types have been corrupted to a greater or lesser degree by copyists' errors. What I have found in doing collations of Matthew's Gospel, for example, is that the Byzantine text type least often stands alone in places of variation, which, again in my view, attests its good quality. So then, in my opinion I would recommend that Bible readers use a translation that is based on the Majority/Byzantine text type - which means we are talking about the KJV or the NKJV. The Nelson Study Bible, which uses the NKJV, is an excellent resource for those wanting some built-in helps. If you would like to read more about my views on the text of the New Testament and Bible translation, you might want to take a peek at these books:


Even better, why not take a basic course in New Testament Greek then get yourself a Greek New Testament? With that in mind, Southeastern Seminary will be videotaping my Elementary Greek course this J-Term and Spring semester, and by this coming summer yall will be able to take my course on DVD! 

8:10 AM Who says nothing good can come out of California? Here's a dandy of an essay by a fellow living in Oakland-by-the-Bay. A classic oxymoron - the Bushism "catastrophic success" - is its subject. Superb!

7:55 AM "The more things change...."

7:38 AM "Most bloggers are women" and other blog factlets you didn't know.

7:22 AM Bored? Try playing Bible Dingbats.

Dingbat 1

7:15 AM BAH HUMBUG: Another reason not to observe Christmas.

7:10 AM I see that Jonathan Grubb's favorite person in American history is a man I also greatly respect. Here's my lament on his passing.

Monday, December 20

2:10 PM My gardener wife and I are looking for a book by Ruth Stout: Gardening Without Work. It is out of print. Anyone know where I can get a used copy?

1:05 PM Hadn't thought of this, Charles. Thanks!

Dr. Black, sure agree with your selection of Michael Peroutka as Man of the Year for 2004. Please let your readers know that Adolph Hitler received Time's Man of the Year in 1938.  So Bush is in some select company.  Here's two links...

Charles Porter


Don't I have some awesome readers!

12:32 PM For 27 years I lived in the erstwhile Golden State. California is a symbol of America’s future if we do not stop illegal immigration. It is 40 billion dollars in debt and is being destroyed culturally and economically by illegal immigration. The federal government is not even trying to stop it. With the 160,000 troops currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan assigned to the defense of the United States of America, we could man the US/Mexico border from the Pacific to the Mexican Gulf with an armed soldier every 75 feet. I think Steve Greenhut is right. It's time to say Hasta la Vista, America!

10:12 AM Schwarzenegger to GOP: Move left! So what's new? I've commented on this before.

I used to think that the best joke about Arnold Schwarzenegger was David Letterman’s late-night quip. He said the number one Arnold Schwarzenegger Campaign Promise was to “Speak directly to voters in clear, honest, broken English.” I’ve changed my mind, however, since reading the latest flurry of support for Schwarzenegger coming from conservative Republicans, many of whom are evangelical Christians.

9:55 AM Go LadyEagle!

Rumsfeld to personally sign all condolence letters

By Leo Shane III, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Friday, December 17, 2004

(See Secretary Rumsfeld's statement at end of story)

WASHINGTON — Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will begin personally signing condolence letters sent to families of troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, after receiving criticism over his use of mechanical signatures.

In a statement provided to Stars and Stripes on Thursday, Rumsfeld tacitly admitted that in the past he has not personally signed the letters, but said he was responsible for writing and approving each of the 1,000-plus messages sent to the fallen soldiers’ families.

It really makes me angry that over 1000 of our young men and women have died and this man (excuse me, jerk) didn't have enough class to personally sign the condolence letters from the DOD. Disgusting. Just goes to show that being wealthy doesn't automatically mean you have class. It's so easy to dehumanize the loss of human life in our military if you aren't forced to look at the names - there was no excuse for this! None! 

9:50 AM Kinsley muses about blogging. I agree completely with his excellent assessment.

Some of my best friends are bloggers. Still, it's different when you purposely drop an idea into this bubbling cauldron and watch the reaction. What floored me was not just the volume and speed of the feedback but its seriousness and sophistication. Sure, there were some simpletons and some name-calling nasties echoing rote-learned propaganda. But we get those in letters to the editor. What we don't get, nearly as much, is smart and sincere intellectual engagement -- mostly from people who are not intellectuals by profession -- with obscure and tedious, but important, issues.

9:14 AM Despite its infelicities of grammar - or maybe precisely because of them - this is one of the most inspiring emails I have ever received:

Dear brother in Christ.

When I say about unrighteousness and sinful life we are witnessing, and
close our eyes and our mouth. And ignore all cruelty and appreciate all
thing. My answer which I receive  even from Christian is "if you do not like, why you do not go to your country. Then I say what about Jesus Christ teaching. If we claim we are Christian.  Then they say "it is God will".

But tonight I could not believe what I red what you wrote.
Then I praise the Lord my Jesus Christ our savior for He answer  my cry.
Now ,I know I have a brother in Christ not only he see, Also he stands too. May Lord keep you and your family in His almighty hand and protect you.

In His love,

F. E.

7:50 AM DUMB DECISION OF THE YEAR: The man who said "We are resolved to root out terrorism wherever it exists to save the world from freedom" has been named Time Magazine'sTime mag Poster Boy:

“For sticking to his guns (literally and figuratively), for reshaping the rules of politics to fit his ten-gallon-hat leadership style and for persuading a majority of voters this time around that he deserved to be in the White House for another four years, we name George W. Bush as TIME’s Person of the Year for 2004,” writes managing editor Jim Kelly in a letter to readers.

Time mistakes Bush's resolve for intransigence. Heads of states have to think. In Bush's regime there is no flexibility, only fear of weakness. Well, what do you expect from a nation that is stupefied by our newspapers and newsmagazines, however "left" or "right" the group-think.

7:45 AM John MacArthur on leadership (and its phony substitutes):

I heard Rick Warren, the other night on Larry King [Live], say that his mentor is Peter Drucker. That's an interesting statement for a pastor to make: "My mentor is Peter Drucker." He's a guy who writes [secular] books on the corporate structure. That's a change. The model that's being imported into the church is the marketing model, the entrepreneurship model -- cultural sensitivity, social savvy, style, form, determining felt needs. That's the model.

7:35 AM Here's a brief response to our essay on tithing. Very well put, I thought.


Thanks for the good article on the tithe. The tithe is part of the law, "But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law" (Galatians 5:18). However, the Spirit is very generous.

Thanks again....

7:28 AM In his essay, “The Modern Threats to Religious Freedom: They Are Greater than One May Think,” William Anderson exposes the dangers awaiting America:

On the surface, it would seem that Christianity has never been stronger or more influential in this country. Not only are the president, attorney general, and other cabinet members and advisors open about their Christianity, but Christian books are on the best-seller lists and Christian popular music dominates the radio airwaves. However, for a long time, I have been intensely looking at the current scene and have concluded that (1) the political authorities have squarely targeted Christians and Christianity for harassment and are freely carrying out their agendas at the present time, (2) the historical legal protections in this country for Christianity have been eroded past the point of no return, (3) most Christians are clueless in understanding this situation, and (4) when Christians do happen to recognize dangers to practicing their faith, they tend to endorse legislative and political actions that in the long run will make things even worse for themselves and those Christians who will follow after them.

 Caveat civis!

7:23 AM President Bush is vowing that the United States will never retreat from Iraq. It's called "quagmire," Mr. President.

7:20 AM The Baptists' unpardonable sin.

7:12 AM I don't have a lot of spare time, but I did manage to read Senator Robert Byrd's outstanding autobiography yesterday. Now here's a man who is willing to stand alone.

7:10 AM In his book Between a Rock and a Hard Place (Word, 1976, p. 21), former United States Senator Mark Hatfield has described the lack of ideals in the political world with great insight: “Such ideals are, for all practical purposes, disregarded. At best, they form stirring rhetoric for speeches to constituents. Rarely are they what move men and women to seek and preserve political power. A façade of statesmanlike idealism conceals a brothel of egomania and lust for power which prostitutes those in political life for often nothing more than personal vain-glory.” A brothel of egomania. Such seems to be the case with outgoing Defense Secretary Rumsfeld.

"Rumsfeld's abstract, dismissive response to the soldier's question was very much in character, but it underscored the lack of political sensitivity and accountability that many feel have characterized his tenure," Thompson said.

Saturday, December 18

9:50 PM Anyway you look at it, this story is heart-wrenching.

One reason for the high rate of dead parents is the reliance by the U.S. military on reserves, who tend to be older and have more children.

6:23 PM QOTD:

It's amazing we live in a country where Sobran is ignored and people actually care what George Will or Maureen Dowd have to say.

4:05 PM AMERICAN REBELS: "The revolution by which a self-governing, decentralized, diversified, and participatory republic (such as the one that the U.S. Constitution and its drafters originally founded) is replaced by an elite-ruled, centralized, uniform state, economy, and mass cultural empire - this is exactly what Americans now involved in grassroots protests are rebelling against." LINK.

4:02 PM Say what? The British have one, and we don't? What would the Duke (Kahanamoku, that is) think?

Duke Kahanamoku

4:00 PM I'd rather starve than pay for airline food. Come to think of it, even when they serve a meal I starve....

11:55 AM You may have already read it, but Jim Lobe has a great essay on the Bush myth. It's a review of The Folly of Empire. Kudos, Jim!

11:30 AM So you still want to tithe? Here's how one mega-church is doing it.

According to last year's church theme - "Be ID'd With CBCC in '03" - the congregation of 15,782 outfitted each member of its flock with a subdermal microchip in the right hand. The device, smaller than a mustard seed, contains the banking information of each worshipper and is scanned by an usher as he or she enters the sanctuary.

Link. (Kepi tip: Dr. Lyman.)

9:55 AM From today's mailbag:

Mr. Black,

I just wanted to thank you for what you are doing. For months, I have enjoyed your web-site and the articles you have written. They have been a real eye opener. As Christians, we should be voting on principle rather strict party lines, which I have been guilty of. We should be glorifying God in all we do, including those who are willing to uphold the God-given laws this republic was founded upon. I believe God is using you for a just cause and I believe its no accident I stumbled upon your web-site. I wrote a similar email to John Leone from Silverback Standard just to show some appreciation for what you guys are doing. I happily voted for Mr. Peroutka and I will continue to support those who are willing to do what is right. I think I will go ahead and switch parties, The Republicans are not the answer. I vote Christian, the Constitution Party will continue to have my vote.

John M

Williamstown, NJ

It was very kind of you to write, John, and I appreciate your support and prayers. It was not so very long ago that I too just happened to "stumble" across a website that got me rethinking my priorities and values. Isn't God good?  

7:36 AM Does the buck ever stop at the White House? It doesn't today, and it didn't in 1941 with the Pearl Harbor fiasco:

All the top commanders have now been blamed, plus various lesser commanders. But the greatest commander of all is left out – the Commander-in-Chief. In the 150,000 words of these findings and comments the name of Franklin D. Roosevelt stands out in almost monumental conspicuousness by its absence. The Army and Navy chiefs, the former Secretary of State and Congress have been blamed and the President of the United States has added to the culprits the 130,000,000 people of the United States. The only person not blamed is Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was running the whole show.

Read The Final Secret of Pearl Harbor. Our solders and sailors could have been warned - should have been warned - but were not. It is an unbelievable tale of an attack that most certainly was not a "surprise"!

Pearl Harbor cannot be disassociated from World War II and its causes. It was the ultimate, inevitable, and logical conclusion to some three decades of international diplomatic skullduggery, in the course of which Japan had, invariably, emerged with the "short end of the stick."

7:34 AM STRANGE BUT TRUE: Now here's a first. Yesterday, as my son went to the store to buy more nails, I did what every hippomaniac would do. I saddled up and went for a ride. Now, my Arabian gelding and my Thoroughbred race horse are practically inseparable, and whenever I ride one horse, the other always runs hither and thither in a bout of grave and incurable anxiety for his friend. Alas, the pastures are all fenced in, making it impossible for the forsaken horse to meet up with his alter ego. Well, as I was returning to Bradford Hall on my Arab, guess who jumps in the pond and swims across to be with us? Can you believe that? Traveler swam across the deepest part of an acre and a half pond because he missed Cody. Don't tell me country living ain't interesting!

7:32 AM A former student of mine has started his own blog. It's called Faith and Dominion. Check it out - you'll like it!

7:30 AM It's official: The second most senior member in the Church of England has declared his nation is no longer "Christian." And yet we are lax about sending missionaries to Europe? I don't get it.

Friday, December 17


Dave Black Online will have to close down permanently without your generous financial support. If you value the essays published here and want to see the truth about Leviathan trumpeted far and near, send in your tax-deductible contribution TODAY. Dave can't do it without your help!

(OK, this is a spoof, inspired by today's front page of a widely read libertarian site. You know, somebody ought to write an essay about the shameless begging [er, appeals for financial support] that goes on all the time on the Internet. Come to think of it, someone already has.)

7:26 AM Hmmm, ten thousand people gather to watch a guy earn $50, 000 riding a wave. Wish I was there! The bad news is that Windward Oahu (where I used to live) is being plagued by power outages.

7:24 AM We're putting the tin back on the roof of our new smoke house today. Just in time for the rain and light snow they're predicting for this weekend. These old buildings are just plain nifty and are a blast to reconstruct. My son (and fellow carpenter, really my BOSS) ran across this ditty that says it all:

 A man who works with his hands is a laborer,
A man who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman,
A man who works with his hands, his head, and his heart is an artist.
St Francis of Assisi

7:22 AM ON A LIGHTER NOTE: Elvis is alive and well. As you know, he's working at MacDonald's in Waikiki. (Nostalgic note: I used to work in a restaurant in Waikiki when I took a semester off from college. I would surf all day and bus tables all night in one of those fancy, upscale restaurants. Then I would spend all my tip money eating - where else? - at the MacDonald's on Kalakua Blvd.)

7:20 AM You geeky types will enjoy this one (it's way over my head). The British government's intelligence service has launched a Christmas code cracker quiz in a bid to attract new recruits. It's based on the famous Enigma machine of WWII. If you take the challenge, let me know how you fared.

A second world war Enigma coding machine

7:16 AM A friend of mine once asked me if I thought our generation would be the first one entirely equipped with hearing aids. Spiritually, we are just as hard of hearing. Blessed is the man who keeps his ears attuned to heaven (John 10:27), not the idiot box.

The TV watching masses make up the perfect audience to take marching orders from the State. They love TV, and it often seems that some of them would give you their children before they'd give up their TV.

7:15 AM Rats! He beat me to it. I wanted to be the first educator to say you don't need a college education.

7:12 AM NEWS YOU CAN USE: Are you a "Woosie" preacher? Don't even know what the term means? Find out here.

7:10 AM I couldn't agree more, Mr. Moyers. The New Right has co-opted the media from Fox News to MSNBC to Sean Hannity, et. al. The press has indeed failed America. That's why I gave two cheers to Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11.

"We have an ideological press that's interested in the election of Republicans, and a mainstream press that's interested in the bottom line. Therefore, we don't have a vigilant, independent press whose interest is the American people."

Happy retirement, by the way.

Thursday, December 16

7:55 AM It's infuriating! Soft-skinned trucks and Humvees. That's how much we think of our soldiers? Heads should roll, but the cover-up only continues.

The Humvee armoring company had told reporters only a few days before that it was operating at 22 percent under capacity, but that there were no more orders from the Pentagon. Then suddenly there were more, for reasons the Army did not make clear.

7:50 AM "Three studies in the review have shown that women who have migraines and who take oral contraceptives were up to 8 times more likely to have a stroke than those not taking the pill. Strokes are caused when a blood clot forms and blocks the flow of blood in the brain. The researchers postulate that the increase of blood flow during a migraine attack is a cause." LINK.

7:48 AM Does the UK have its own Guantanamo?

7:45 AM QOTD:

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of life,
Be not like the dumb, driven cattle
Be a hero in the strife.

From "Psalm of Life"- Longfellow.

Wednesday, December 15

10:10 AM FARM UPDATE: Today is the day, folks. The smoke house is going up. Yesterday we somehow managed to move the remaining walls and flooring from our neighbor's farm, and, as God gives us strength, up it goes today behind Bradford Hall. It'll make a perfect match for our garden shed. Don't yall just love old buildings?

10:07 AM Okay, our family doesn't do the gift thing, but if you're thinking about buying a good Christmas present that will last a while, why not boogie over to Carmon's site and check out the great book deals she has going? However annoying it is to see a title by Sean Hannity, it's still a bargain basement.

10:07 AM I'm sorry, I don't know much about local Afghani politics, but isn't the mayor of Kabul just a wee bit too expensive?

10:05 AM What would happen if you inputted just the first letter of a search on Google? Here's the answer.

N is for News An absolute pure revolution brought on by the internet. Anyone can publish anything they like on the net. Suddenly not only has the control over information been loosened but we are able to see the same story as presented from the other side, instantly. It has made it far harder for determined and powerful figures to control how people see events and that can only be a good thing. The Register, you will note, is part of that revolution.

9:55 AM Thanks to all who turned out for the third annual Christmas party at the Oxford Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp. You folks have every right to feel tired this morning. It was a period dance which my son called. He also instructed us on proper etiquette.

"Never dance without gloves.  This is an imperative rule.  It is best to carry two pair, as in the contact with dark dresses, or in handling refreshments, you may soil the pair you wear on entering the room, and will thus be under the necessity of offering your hand covered by a soiled glove, to some fair partner.  You can slip unperceived from the room, change the soiled for a fresh pair, and then avoid that mortification."

8:31 AM Some good advice on laying down worldly things. Thanks for the tip, Charles.

Tuesday, December 14

8:01 AM I agree totally with both the caption and the content of this news piece: Bush's America: A National Nightmare? This intrepid Californian has some good comments on the issue, by the way.

7:59 AM LRC has a great read this morning on why most of us prefer the Internet to the newspapers. Now there's word that entire libraries of books are going to digitalized - by the good folks at Google, no less. This shouldn't be too hard nowadays. I sent my last three books to the publisher by the click of a mouse, after all.

7:45 AM "The Christians have no future here." Guess where?

7:25 AM Tithing Update: Here's another quote from David Jeremiah's booklet on teaching children how to tithe:

Can you count how many grapes are there? What if I ate one...then how many would be left? Does one grape out of ten seem like very many? (NO) That's all that God asks of us.

This, I'm afraid to say, is your average Baptist's understanding of giving. Give one-tenth to God, and you're scot-free to do whatever you want with the rest.

7:23 AM Is Iran next? I mean, this is as much a spiritual/ethical/moral issue as it is a political one, folks.

7:22 AM It's that time of the year. Big surf is back on the North Shore, and I mean some pretty radical stuff. Can anything beat a squeaky-clean Pipeline tuber like the one pictured below? I can literally feel the spray.

north shore surfing

7:21 AM An "atta-boy" to John McCain for riding the prez hard on his Iraq policy. I bet he even voted for Kerry. One thing's for sure: The 2008 campaign is already heatin' up! Michael and Chuck, we haven't forgotten you!

7:20 AM VENDORS OF WORDS: It's with great joy that I announce that the DBO blog has been harassing cyberspace travelers for over a year now, joining about a zillion other self-styled pundits who have convinced themselves that other people might actually enjoy reading what they write. So, if I may be permitted to quote from my very first entry:

Introducing the DBO blog: news, commentary, musings, and miscellaneous blatherings from your web host. I begin with a quotation from one of my all-time favorite authors, Malcolm Muggeridge, from his book Confessions of a Twentieth Century Pilgrim:

Changing from teaching to journalism, he discovers, is not as drastic as might be supposed. Both professions are exercises in fantasy; the instruction that teachers pass on to their classes is as dubious as the news and comment that journalists pass on to their readers. Such difference as there is lies in the time factor; within reason, the Teacher can devote as much time as he likes to expounding his subject, whereas the Journalist is exclusively concerned with the immediate present. The Teacher, that is to say, is liable to be a long-drawn out bore; the Journalist, an instant one. Otherwise, there are in the same business--as St Augustine puts it, "Vendors of words."

Being a de novo web journalist, in addition to passing myself off as a teacher, I find quite an interesting (and often challenging) combination. The sincere prayer of my heart is that of an ancient saint:

God, humble my pride, extinguish the last stirrings of my ego, obliterate whatever remains of worldly ambition and carnality, and in these last days of a mortal existence, help me to serve only Thy purposes, to speak and write only Thy words, to think only Thy thoughts, to have no other prayer than: "Thy will be done." In other words, to be a true Convert.

Do stop by often, as these ruminations will be coming to you at any time of day or night.

Yep, I really enjoy spreading ideas, especially when they're free. So here's to you for making this happen. After all, if it wasn't for your kind emails, this dribble probably would have dried up long ago.

7:18 AM Devvy Kidd has a new post about the latest GOP-approved "security" measure that flies in the face of our now-forgotten Bill of Rights. I found this article to be right on the money. Great stuff!

The Republican controlled Congress has passed the so-called 'Intelligence Reform Bill.' Without any doubt in my mind, new world order facilitator George Bush, Jr. will sign this massive draconian piece of legislation into law.

7:14 AM BATTLE OF THE BULGE: Does it bother anyone else that we (Baptists) are the most obese Christians in America? The only overweight people you find in Ethiopia are those who own cars (and there are only a handful of them). Anyway, I don't know about you, but by God's grace I'm determined to overcome the ubiquitous pastor's pouch.

7:12 AM Yet another theological oxymoron: "creative incoherence." Yeesh. Is it that easy to become educated beyond one's intelligence?

7:10 AM Got a nice email yesterday from somebody wanting to know if I had studied under Dr. Oscar Cullmann during my years in Basel. Actually, Cullmann had already retired by the time I arrived in Switzerland, but I did have several opportunities to meet with him in his home on the Birmannsgasse (the same street where I lived when I first came to Basel). I was deeply impressed with his scholarship and humility - that beautiful  balance between humanitas and pietas that also characterized my Doktorvater, Prof. Bo Reicke. I still think Cullmann's Christology is the best book ever written on the subject (excluding the New Testament itself, of course). If you haven't read it yet, you simply must!

Click to enlarge

Monday, December 13

4:40 PM Since I've been blogging about Iraq today, I might as well go for the trifecta and post this link about this poor soul.

4:37 PM It must be 20 degrees out there. Could hardly hold the oat buckets for the horses. (Yep, I forgot my gloves.) The Million Dollar Question: When's the first snow?

4:34 PM Been writing all day, so this brought some comic relief. I dig the beard, by the way.

11:46 AM Another interesting blog I just stumbled across. Check it out. Actually, the author happened to email me and provided a link. Thanks!

9:23 AM I like this New York dairy farmer. He's a fellow agrarian and a lover of the Constitution. Bravo! 

8:12 AM It's tempting, VERY tempting. But the ground's still too wet, methinks. Riding my thoroughbred Traveler, that is. Maybe tomorrow....

8:10 AM "Republican war can be acceptable as long as it's balanced by the participation of the überstatists at the United Nations. Mass murder is not a crime, you see – as long as you don't try to pull it off yourself." Read more.

7:59 AM This just in from my good friend Lee Shelton, editor of Ever Vigilant, a top dawg site if there ever was one. Lee's got some good thoughts on the tithe, and more....

Dear Dave,

I appreciated your latest essay. Tithing is definitely something we don't hear too much about anymore.

As you pointed out, the Old Testament mandated a tithe while the NT teaches that everything we have belongs to God. I happen to think this is a point Jesus was making in Matt. 22:21.

It's also interesting to note other contrasts. For example, in the OT, we read of animal sacrifices; in the NT, we are to be living sacrifices. The OT taught that God dwelled in the temple; the NT teaches that our bodies are living temples and that the Holy Spirit dwells within each believer. The Law in the OT commanded, "You shall not murder," but Christ taught us that even feeling hatred for someone is tantamount to murder.

Some Christians have been accused of over-spiritualizing scripture, but I think one of the biggest problems in the church today is the tendency to UNDER-spiritualize. As a result, many important Biblical principles are missed.

Keep up the good work!


P.S.: A belated "Welcome home!" You were missed.

7:45 AM This headline caught my attention. I'm thinking: Will this really make the Spanish people feel more safe?

7:43 AM Given the propensity of the GOP toward anti-leftism, institutional Republicans believe they have no reason to resist the government's unconstitutional anti-terrorism policies. The agreement among the GOP faithful to numerous pieces of "emergency" legislation that curtail civil liberties not only strengthens the president's hands but will play into his strategy of spreading democracy (i.e., secular humanism) worldwide. Fortunately for all of us, there are still some sane voices out there. Here's one.

7:40 AM Some of us may remember the jingle: As Tommy Snooks and Bessie Brooks were walking out one Sunday, said Tommy Snooks to Bessie Brooks, "Tomorrow will be Monday." This is thought to be a record low in inane conversation, but I'm not so sure.

For "girls aged 15 to 17 the percentage who had ever had intercourse declined from 38 percent in 1995 to 30 percent in 2002. For boys, the agency said, the decline was 43 percent to 31 percent. ...The agency said that when teens do have intercourse, 79 percent reported using contraception in 1991-2002 compared with 61 percent in the 1980's."

Susan Olasky of World Magazine thinks this is "good news." Figure that one out.  

7:37 AM Name the face (he was 21 at the time and a student at Oxford).* O the joys of youth.

1975: Tony Blair, aged 21, wearing a straw boater hat on top of long hair

* rialB ynoT

7:05 AM If there's one thing Baptists do well, it's giving. This week a friend who works with their church's AWANA program gave us a check for almost 150 dollars, raised by the children of their church to support the Lord's work in Burji, Ethiopia. This is half of what it costs to support a fulltime evangelist for a whole year. Someone else kicked in the remaining money, so now this little group of children in rural Virginia will have their very own Ethiopian missionary.

Sunday, December 12

6:37 PM Another theological oxymoron.

6:34 PM I can see this website becoming very addicting.

6:30 PM WANTED: Cyber-evangelist to the millions in China who surf the web. Predictions are that Chinese will become the predominant language of web users worldwide, overtaking English. Let's wise up, church, and take advantage of this!

6:23 PM QOTD:

Divisions and separations are most objectionable in religion. They weaken the cause of true Christianity.... But before we blame people for them, we must be careful that we lay the blame where it is deserved. False doctrine and heresy are even worse than schism. If people separate themselves from teaching that is positively false and unscriptural, they ought to be praised rather than reproved. In such cases separation is a virtue and not a sin.  - J.C. RYLE

1:43 PM This is one of my favorite portraits of General Lee. The reason I mention him is that this afternoon we are attending the Christmas concert of one of the youth in our church, which will be held in the Robert E. Lee auditorium on the school's campus in Chase City. Unbelievable that the name hasn't been changed by the PC crowd - yet. Speaking of the general, we are now in the planning stages of our annual Lee-Jackson dinner here at Bradford Hall - a formal, black tie affair followed by a period Lyceum. I'm just doing my civic duty as a proud citizen of Virginia....

1:15 PM The Dow Blog is talking about it...the movement in the SBC to rescue our kids from those government indoctrination centers. I know just how insidious they are since I am the product of three - Kainalu School, Kailua Intermediate School, and Kailua High School. That's why I like homeschooling so much. The big question, of course, is whether we are willing to take the Bible seriously on these matters (see Deut. 6; Eph. 6). Not that I'm too sure that belief in inerrancy always leads to saner or more biblical lifestyles....

12:30 PM  Recently one of my students in Ethiopia sent me a letter asking my opinion on whether practicing polygamists who come to Christ should be allowed to be baptized. This was my response:

Dear ____:

Thank you so much for your letter of November 15. I cannot tell you how much we miss all of you there in Addis. The Lord blessed us beyond what we could have imagined during our five weeks in Ethiopia, and a big part of that blessing was getting to know believers like you. I am glad you are enjoying It’s Still Greek to Me, and I trust your studies are going well.

In responding to your letter I think I will answer your last question first – the one dealing with polygamy. When you say that you have polygamists in your church, I assume that these women are members of the man’s household, and not his mistresses or concubines (i.e., women used primarily for the man’s sexual gratification). The latter relationships would, of course, be immoral and would have to be discontinued.

I’m quite sure you are referring to men who have taken, legally, two or more wives. It is my understanding that such an arrangement is a socially accepted marital unit in your culture. Of course, in Islam polygamy is a time-honored tradition and is sanctioned by the Koran. I assume that Ethiopia does not legislate against the practice?

At any rate, polygamy is not limited to Africa. It has existed here in America, most notably among the Mormons, some of whom still practice it. Neither Augustine nor Thomas Aquinas taught that polygamy was in itself evil. Only if its purpose was sexual pleasure was it considered evil. But as a means of propagating the race, it was not considered an offense to God’s moral law. Luther approved of the polygamous marriage of King Phillip of Hesse, his protector, and he advised King Henry VIII of England to take another wife rather than divorce his first wife. (Henry did not follow his advice). In 1531, several of my own spiritual forbears, the Anabaptists at Muenster, Germany, became polygamous, maintaining that “he who wants to be a true Christian must have several wives.” And, as you well know, David and other Old Testament believers had several wives.

So what should be the policy on polygamy among sincere Christians? (I am not referring to Christians-in-name-only.) I think it is obvious that the Bible neither explicitly advocates nor condemns the institution of polygamy. In fact, it is portrayed as a divinely accepted institution in certain cultural contexts, where God apparently viewed it as a legitimate marriage. At the same time, the silence of the Bible does not necessarily give us permission to practice polygamy today. Perhaps the silence in Scripture is due to the fact that references to polygamy are almost exclusively found in the Old Testament, which, as you know from your studies, is largely comprised of historical narrative. Such narratives do not normally include value judgments or indications of God’s pleasure or displeasure. So it seems to me that we must return to the broader view of marriage that is clearly established in Scripture (see Gen. 2, Matt. 19). This is God’s standard, or we might say ideal, for marriage, and here polygamy clearly falls short. God puts one man and one woman together in marriage, and this bond is to be an exclusive one. Remember, the marital bond is a picture of Christ and His church (Eph. 5), and there is only one Bride of Christ!

So to get back to your question: although monogamy is clearly and unquestionably God-established, is it the only acceptable marital institution to the exclusion of polygamy? Here are my conclusions according to the light God has given me.

  • Christians who practice polygamy should not become elders or deacons in the church (see 1 Tim. 3). This is the obvious meaning of the statement “he must be the husband of one wife.”

  • Men who are believers should not seek a second or third wife, even if polygamy is socially sanctioned. They should always seek God’s ideal for the marital relationship.

  • Current polygamists who come to Christ should not be prohibited from baptism. If they are Spirit baptized (which they are, according to1 Cor. 12:13), they should be water baptized. Nowhere in the New Testament is baptism conditioned on a changed life. Obedience follows as baptized believers are instructed in the ways of the Lord.

  • It is my opinion that polygamists who come to Christ should refrain from sexual relations with more than one wife. He should, however, still care for and support his other wives financially. I do not recommend divorce in these situations, as the divorced wives would likely be considered “used furniture.”

In short, although the New Testament teaches monogamy as the ideal or normal form of marriage, in my view it does not expressly prohibit polygamy except in the case of a church leader. Yet should not the qualifications for elders and deacons in 1 Timothy be traits that all of us should strive to emulate?

One final thought. In the Old Testament, there are dozens of passages where polygamy is mentioned, and it always results in trouble, jealousy, and strife. The subtle hint is that polygamy is a great temptation to evil. As you know, Solomon had 700 wives. We read in Deut. 17:17: “He [the king] must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray.” And then we read in 1 Kings 11:3: “His wives led him astray.” How tragic! Then there is the story of Lamech in Genesis 4 (where polygamy is mentioned for the first time in the Bible), a story that implies that polygamy is a corruption of God’s initial intention of what marriage should be. Therefore, it seems to me that just as God allowed divorce because of the sinfulness of man, so He evidently permitted polygamy for a time, even though it was (and probably still is) the cause of great heartache, much like divorce.

8:45 AM  In other happy news: there's a giant statue of Jesus being erected along Interstate 75, but it'll have to compete with Larry Flint's billboards.

8:40 AM  Will the next revival come as a result of Christian bloggers? I doubt it, but I do agree that more pastors could be blogging. I'm really a Johnny Come Lately to this whole blogging thing, but I do think it's going to become a trend among Christians. The key fact to remember is that blogging takes work and consistent effort. Blogs are being abandoned as quickly as they are being started, and even those I check regularly are rarely updated daily. These are not really blogs, in my opinion.

8:35 AM  The Messiah was presented last night at the seminary. Kudos to Dr. John Davis and the choir for an outstanding job. And the orchestra? Magnificent!

Saturday, December 11

5:36 PM  My son just heard this joke:

There were three country churches in a small town: the Presbyterian
church, the Methodist church and the Baptist church. Each church was
overrun with pesky squirrels.

One day, the Presbyterian church called a meeting to decide what to do
about the squirrels. After much prayer and consideration they determined
that the squirrels were predestined to be there and they shouldn't
interfere with God's divine will.

The Methodist group got together and decided that they were not in a
position to harm any of God's creations. So, they humanely trapped the
squirrels and set them free a few miles outside of town. Three days later,
the squirrels were back.

It was only the Baptists who were able to come up with the best and most
effective solution. They baptized the squirrels and registered them as
members of the church. Now they only see them on Christmas and Easter.

Sadly, this is not a joke.  

8:55 AM  The House of Degenhart just celebrated Multi-Cultural Day with an ode to their German ancestry. You'll love it. Since I've got more sauerkraut than spaghetti in my blood I can identify. And yes, the VW Beetle was the concoction of Adolph, believe it or not! (There were oodles of VWs in Ethiopia, by the way.)

Volkswagen Classic Beetle

8:43 AM  Now this was refreshing. I'm excited to pass on the news that I am not alone in thinking this way!

[The] heart-cry of the emerging church—or what many call postmodern Christianity—appears to be not a finicky demand for perfection but an authentic search for the real deal, the no-frills, non-packaged, stripped-down version of Christianity that Jesus walked and talked. After being fed a spiritual diet of glam-gospel and grandstanding for so long, many believers can’t stomach another bite. They hunger for the meat-and-potatoes of authentic community coupled with meaningful teaching.

8:35 AM  Here's an interesting infographic:

8:34 AM  Les blogs anglais comportent maintenant moins de 50% des blogs dans le monde entier. Englische blogs enthalten jetzt weniger als 50% von den blogs weltweit. Und so weiter....

Friday, December 10

9:32 PM  BTW - tomorrow night is the performance of Handel's magnificent Messiah at the seminary's Binkley Chapel (shown below). Starts at 8:00 pm. Hope to see you there!


(BTW2 - The most stirring rendition of the Messiah I have ever heard was in Israel, as performed by a kibbutz choir with full orchestra.)

5:55 PM  My political great awakening began just a few short years ago. Among the chief culprits on this religious-cleansing campaign was Lewis Goldberg, who until very recently published a website called the Patriotist. Lewis and his site constantly reminded me that it's impossible not to be committed to some value system, and his editorial labors will be sorely missed. God bless, and fare thee well, my friend.

5:43 PM  The following is a sampling of letters I'm getting on my essays dealing with the New Right:

The Christian right has strayed further than most of the German
Christians strayed in their support of Adolph Hitler. Hitler came to
power prior to the Jewish Holocaust and the good German volk may be
excused for not having the foresight to see the evil that was to come.
President Bush presides over the American Holocaust and fails to use the
Constitutional power provided in his Oath of Office to immediately
return the issue to the States as it was prior to 1973, yet Christians
support him with as much or more fervor that the Christian Germans
supported Hitler prior to the Holocaust....

If abortion is murder, then as practiced in the U.S. it is mass murder
on a scale that exceeds the Jewish Holocaust. The President, instead of
using his Constitutional power to end federal enforcement of abortion,
hails the power of the U.S. Supreme Court as the church prostrate falls
-  compelling the candid citizen to confess that there is no moral
difference between American evangelicalism and Nazi Germany.

5:22 PM  "Speaking outside the court after the hearing, a relieved Trevor Adams said: 'I will continue in my job as huntsman, and will continue to offer the pest control service the landowners and farmers have requested from us. I am personally very pleased that our interpretation of the new form of hunting has been supported by this judgment.'" Read more on Scotland's fox hunting "pest control service."

A fox hunt

4:45 PM Like most Americans I was glad when the election was over, but even gladder to see that more and more of us voted for principle over politics. The difference, as we've been writing about on these pages for two years now, is at a worldview level.

4:35 PM Heartiest thanks to those who attended our Ethiopian report last Sunday night at our wonderful home church in Virginia. We had 25 in attendance (a large Sunday evening crowd for our church) and raised over $600 to support the believers in Burji. The money will support two full time Ethiopian evangelists for one entire year! We wired the funds today, and this morning I spoke personally with the church's superintendent in Burji. These gifts are GREATLY appreciated and, needless to say, will meet many needs in the Horn of Africa. Thanks again to all who came and contributed.

4:28 PM My son, chicken farmer par excellence, thought this was funny:

4:20 PM "How Teddy Roosevelt Fathered the 'Bush Doctrine'," by William Marina
and David T. Beito.

4:15 PM More kudos for Francis Schaeffer:

Dear Dave,

Greetings from another Francis Schaeffer fan. I guess I must be getting old too!

I'd like to say that Dr. Schaeffer was a great speaker. I once heard him
lecture at Westminster Chapel (London), and was truly amazed. He was not only a brilliant author, and, IMO, one of the greatest evangelical minds of the 20th century, but also one of the most eloquent, articulate speakers I have ever heard. His ideas live on in his books, but also in the hearts of those who were touched by his ministry in one way or another.

God bless,

Rubén Gómez
Bible Software Review

I've heard him speak, too, Rubén, and I agree totally with your assessment. By the way, we Jesus Freaks gotta stick together - we're not getting any younger!

4:05 PM My father-in-law is still serving the Ethiopian church. Here's his latest endeavor,, along with his promo:

By way of additional information -- which you're possibly
wondering about our new website, This
website presently contains 51 books, most of which are
translations, but a good number are the original writings of

Authors include Lewis Sperry Chafer, John Walvoord, Charles
Ryrie, Billy Graham, Bill O'Donovan, Alemu Beeftu, Tim Fellows,
Stan Gundry, Bob Thomas, Charles Dyer, Ramesh Richards, Dwight
Pentecost, Norton Sterrett, Alemu Himbaro, Kay Bascom, Demoz
Ababa, Alan Redpath, Ron Wiersbe, Lois Bixby, Bruce and Carol
Britain, Jonathan Hildebrandt, and Paul Enns.

The books are divided into 7 categories: Doctrine (11 books),
Prophecy (2 books), Bible book studies (8 books), Christian life
(14 books), Scripture versions (6 books), Church history (5 books)
and Teacher's helps/aids (5 books). Altogether, 10,621 pages have
been scanned into this website.

We earnestly ask you to help us, by all means possible, to get
the word out to the folk who can use this material, both in their
daily life and in their ministry.

Thank for your help! And may the good Lord bless and keep

In His Service,

B. N. Lapsley

Thursday, December 9

12:56 PM Yes, I am a HUGE Francis Schaeffer fan. Since not everyone has heard about him (you know you're getting old when you say "Francis Schaeffer" and everyone goes "Who?"), here are a couple of good links:

The Shelter


My wife and I are doing something similar at our Virginia farm and enjoying it tremendously.

12:48 PM Day before yesterday I spent two hours on the phone with Dell Support trying to improve my monitor resolution. We tried this and that, but nothing worked. Later I called my IT guy at the seminary and in two seconds he had revolved the issue (I simply needed to adjust my Net Zero settings). This is the picture on the Dell technical support webpage. No wonder she couldn't help me - she was too busy posing for their ad.

12:36 PM Who said the Brits don't have a sense of humor? (Or is he perhaps being serious?)

To the citizens of the United States of America, In the light of your failure to elect a competent President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective today. Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories. Except Utah, which she does not fancy. Your new prime minister (The Right Honourable Tony Blair, MP for the 97.85% of you who have until now been unaware that there is a world outside your borders) will appoint a minister for America without th! e need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire will be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed. To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect....

Read more.

12:36 PM OK, here's some serious news. Combat deaths in Iraq hit 1001. Little wonder Uncle Sam wants more of our kids - NOW.

By the end of this recruiting year, the Regular Army, Reserves and Guard could fall short more than 50 percent of its projected requirement, or about 60,000 new soldiers. And according to many recruiters, quality recruits are giving way to mental midgets who have a hard time telling their left foot from their right.

12:20 PM BELIEVE IT OR NOT: "Britney Spears" is an anagram for "Presbyterians."

12:17 PM Too rainy to work outdoors today so checked my emails and received this heart-warming message:

Professor Black,

It is very good to have you back and writing.  As a former Southern and
now Reformed Baptist I look forward to reading your articles.  You are a
clear voice, and in you I hear the best of our ancestors.

Thanks for the service you do us all!

Yes, it is good to be back. Thanks for sending me this gem of an email.  

8:43 AM I devoted a whole chapter to this topic in my latest book, but to hear the same views expressed by a Yankee is like drinking a cup of Ethiopian coffee on the front porch of Bradford Hall (which, by the way, I am getting ready to do with my lovely wife). Read A Yankee Apology.

7:30 AM It's like being punched in the nose every morning. I'm talking about these superbly written devotions by Oswald Chambers. Read today's if you dare.

7:28 AM This was just posted by Dr. Lyman. I hope that parents here in the Old Dominion State will be more discerning about their children's education.

"The 2003 SAT scores: national private -- 1123; national homeschooling -- 1100 (for 2001); national religious -- 1065; Fauquier public -- 1055; Virginia public -- 1024; national public -- 1020."

7:25 AM Only bloggers will want to read this.  

7:23 AM The Herald-Sun of North Carolina is offering blogs to political candidates. If I run for governor, I might take them up on it.

7:20 AM Hey, Bikehiker, as the author of Why I Stopped Listening to Rush, these are supposed to my lines!

RUSH LIMBAUGH IS ANTI-CHRISTIAN. Has it occurred to Christians who avidly or passively listen to Rush Limbaugh that not only is Rush not Christian, but the philosophy, views, and policies he advocates--not to mention the spirit in which he conveys his views--are thoroughly anti-Christ?

THIRTY MINUTES AND TWO HOURS. I'd be happy to sit through a mere 30-minutes of the Limbaugh radio show with any Dittohead so we could spend the next two hours with the Bible unpacking the sub-Christian and anti-Christian philosophy and views he espouses durinig that brief period.

GROW UP, WISE UP. If you buy Rush's political and economic conservativism as Christian, you are gullible and undiscerning. You need to grow up in the faith of Jesus Christ. And you need to begin to question why this functional athiest's ideas appeal to you. It's time to wise up. Turn off the noise. Tune into the Word that gives life.

Just kidding. Keep up the good work.

7:18 AM This is one for

What worries me even more than all this is your willful blindness. You refuse to see that it is you, not we Americans, who have abandoned Western Civilization.

Who are we to criticize Europe for being a bunch of wacko liberals? (Come to think of it, that's a pretty consistent theme among the New Right.)

7:16 AM Operation Streeeeeetch.

7:14 AM The day is coming when all of us - each and very one of us - will have to make a similar, fateful, life-changing decision.

7:12 AM There are plenty of people not named George Bush who aren't falling at the feet of Donald Rumsfeld, so I'm not surprised to see the anger of our troops coming to the surface. (Oh, by the way, charges will not be pressed. How gracious of our government. Aren't you relieved to know we are still the home of the free as well as the land of the brave?)

7:05 AM As an artist and a Christian I found the rush by evangelicals to canonize Gibson for making The Passion pretty inane. It's at best just a movie made by one man, and at worst a breach of the Second Commandment.  Decide for yourself.

Wednesday, December 8

6:30 AM There are no easy answers to the question, How much time should I spend preparing my sermons? Here's one answer to that query.

6:25 AM HOMESCHOOL UPDATE: Moving from burden to lifestyle. An excellent essay by Charlene Notgrass.

6:23 AM Them Brits are at it again - inventing new verbs, and willfully engaging in other abuses of words, apostrophes, etc. The shame of it all!


6:20 AM I'll never forget attending an outdoor performance of Turandot with my wife while we were visiting Rome. Era magnifico! I see that La Scala has reopened. Now, attending an opera in that beautiful hall would be a real treat.

La Scala in Milan

Tuesday, December 7

4:59 PM It's this Saturday night at the seminary chapel. Can't wait!

4:55 PM There are significant differences between the traditional church (like the one you might attend) and the New Testament church. Here's a succinct summary of those differences for your perusal and consideration. Perhaps you can use it as a basis for discussion in your Sunday School class or small group. Hope it helps.

4:45 PM The Abortion Abolitionist. A superb read!

4:12 PM Flash cards for the vocabulary in my beginning Greek grammar, Learn to Read New Testament Greek, are now available on the web at:

Sincerest thanks to Troy A. Griffitts of the CrossWire Bible Society for rendering this service to students of Greek.

2:59 PM I had a craving for these while in Ethiopia. Man alive, what makes them soooo gooood?

Doritos Ranchero Tortilla Chips

2:58 PM What do these words have in common?

academy, acrobat, attic, canopy, ceramic, dogma, drama, echo, helicopter, history, and many others...

The are all borrowed from this language. (J-Term students, take heart!)

2:57 PM Happy Birthday to Horace, Latin poet, born this day in 65 BC. He authored Ars Poetica, a book I still use to teach my students rhetoric.

11:14 AM DBO contributor Matt Gamel sent me these observations about TV. (You know, Matt, I too think I was born at least a century too late!)

Mr. Black,

Great article on the issue of television. Here are some of my thoughts:

One thing that has always concerned me about the tube is the fact that it
actively promotes pacificity and intellectual slothness. It simply does not
take any energy or thought to veg out in front of the tube for hours at a time and it has done a marvelous job of "zombifying" Christians and conservatives, at that.

It is my observation that Christian parents have unfortunately made the
excuse that the television is a "cultural" necessity that prompts them from ever doing away with it (although, ironically, the Lord has not yet blessed me with a wife and kids). I simply do not agree with many of these parents - I believe that television is part of the problem in our culture and would gladly 'can' the wretched device for a thousand acre farm. Consequently, many parents practically let the television raise the children; even if they are fed "Christian" programming, such is no substitute for real time in the Scriptures, especially with ones children. Instilling values does not come with the click of a Veggie Tales tape; while these things aren't bad in themselves, per se, they are no substitute for living by example and by constantly submerging our kids in the Scriptures and I fear that instilling values in our children has been reduced to a formula.

Whatever happened to picking up a good 'ole fashioned book? Or playing a
board game with the family or taking our children on nature walks or
horseback riding? You know sir, I cannot help but sometimes ponder if I was born 1.5 to 2 centuries too late :-)...

8:17 AM When I was growing up, the "Day of Infamy" was December 7, 1941. Not so anymore. No doubt America's vision of empire, like Japan's Empire of the Sun, will one day pass. But at what cost?

8:15 AM "Just in time for Christmas, America's two largest news magazines devote this week's cover stories to debunking the story of Jesus' birth. Among the conclusions in Time and Newsweek: Jesus was born in Nazareth, not Bethlehem; there is little evidence of three kings following a star, and the story of the virgin birth may have been borrowed."

Read more.

7:22 AM From today's mailbag:

There is a reason the TV Guide calls it Programming. It is. They are Not Lying.

7:20 AM Over the years bibliophile Carmon Friedrich has taken a lot of hits on her website - in fact, over a million. Kudos and heartiest congratulations!

Congratulations Balloon

7:18 AM Guess what? The Founders of our nation had an antipathy toward militarism - a fact well-documented in this essay by Jacob Hornberger.

7:15 AM A belated Happy Birthday, Terri.

7:12 AM December 7, 1941, is a day that had many "what ifs." For example, we know the Japanese were detected by a mobile radar station at Kahuku Point on Oahu's north shore 52 minutes before the attack began. The inexperienced operators reported the finding to headquarters. The young officer in charge mistook the formation as a flight of U.S. planes due from the West Coast. He told the operators to ignore the data. Many people also do not realize that the windward side of the island, where I grew up, saw action at both Kaneohe and Bellows Field. I remember climbing to the top of the pillboxes still in the area, including the one at Lanikai Point, which offers a superb 360 degree view of windward Oahu.

Below is a photo of Lanikai with Flat Island in the foreground and Kaneohe (where our aircraft were attacked on Dec. 7) in the background.

7:10 AM He was a New Testament scholar who waged war not only against theological liberalism but also against ever-increasing government power. Read about him here.

7:05 AM Here's a very interesting aspect of television viewing that I overlooked in my essay TV Or Not TV?  Thanks to a perceptive DBO reader for pointing this out to me:

I read the article on television today. I tend to believe that it is  something Christians should not be doing not only because of the content, but also because of the time it takes up....

Another negative about television rarely gets spoken of: When you are watching the tube your brain waves are being altered. A good article on this was in AMERICAN SCIENTIFIC MAGAZINE a couple of years ago. As adults we come in and turn the tube on just to have it on (so we think), but in reality, we are craving that altered brainwave state that television induces.  This is why when one show is over we turn to find something else to watch, and settle for a program even if we really aren't interested in it just to keep the  "high"  going.

Now if it is not good for adults to induce our brains into an altered state, how much more detrimental is it for a child under eight years old to do this. We would never let our toddler children smoke pot, but how often do we sit them in front of  "BARNEY" for hours at a time....

Thank you for having this wonderful site.

7:03 AM Church growth methods that are highly questionable.

[M]inisters have become managers, facilitators, and motivators—everything but heralds of the whole counsel of God—and this all because they have lost confidence in the preaching of God's Word as the primary means for the growth of the church and the individual Christian.

Monday, December 6

4:03 PM Tired of the neo-dark ages? Fresh agrarian winds are a-blowin'.

[T]he Agrarian vision for thousands of small, independent farming communities, carefully 'husbanding' their own land (Creation), and actively caring for their own people is far from dead. Given the gradual bankruptcy of Modern culture, such as it is, a fresh Agrarian wind is blowing. A distinctively Christian covenantal Agrarianism will take its rightful place in the communion of the saints.

4:00 PM The real Lincoln. (In other words, we've had this problem for a long time, folks.)

9:34 AM J-Term Greek students, take a look at this link on learning New Testament Greek. It will blow you away!

7:58 AM Guess who made this loving statement:

And I'm for the president to chase them all over the world. If it takes 10 years, blow them all away in the name of the Lord."

7:55 AM Russmo just about says it all:

7:52 AM From the mailbag:

Brother Dave! Excellent site! Keep up the great work. There are others who agree with you and are doing our part!

Thank you, Sir, for this very kind expression of support. 

7:50 AM HISTORY UPDATE: November 28 is a little-known holiday. In the Kingdom of Hawaii, November 28 was an official holiday called Ka La Kuokoa, or Independence Day, commemorating the day in 1843 when England and France formally recognized Hawaii's independence. Because I was born and raised in Hawaii as a kamaaina, I have little stomach for the illegal overthrow of the monarchy that took place a century ago through a faked revolution and puppet government.  Not surprisingly, the native Hawaiians are seeking recognition of their sovereignty and are also seeking justice through legal means, a fulfillment of trust commitments, and the settlement of land claims.

7:47 AM I have never made the case for the appeasement of our Islamic enemies; but policies that are likely to diminish terrorism are saner than those which merely perpetuate the violence. It's interesting to note that even the Pentagon is now admitting that we have lost the hearts of minds of Islamists worldwide, despite our efforts at "pacification."

“Americans are convinced that the US is a benevolent ‘superpower’ that elevates values emphasising freedom … deep down we assume that everyone should naturally support our policies. Yet the world of Islam – by overwhelming majorities at this time – sees things differently. Muslims see American policies as inimical to their values, American rhetoric about freedom and democracy as hypocritical and American actions as deeply threatening.

“In two years the jihadi message – that strongly attacks American values – is being accepted by more moderate and non-violent Muslims. This in turn implies that negative opinion of the US has not yet bottomed out.

7:45 AM Three great thoughts from a marvelous New Testament and Greek professor of yesteryear:

God is the ruler of history. His times are well chosen. The Roman
Empire was an instrument in his hand. And so are the nations of the
modern world.
--J. Gresham Machen

After listening to modern tirades against the great creeds of the
Church, one receives a shock when one turns to the Westminster
Confession... and discovers that in doing so one has turned from
shallow modern phrases to a "dead orthodoxy" that is pulsating with
life in every word. In such orthodoxy there is life enough to set
the whole world aglow with Christian love.
-- J. Gresham Machen

I can see little consistency in a type of Christian activity which
preaches the gospel on the street corners and at the ends of earth,
but neglects the children of the covenant by abandoning them to a
cold and unbelieving secularism.
-- J. Gresham Machen

7:42 AM Government grade school costs more than college. And the results are just as abysmal. Read about it here.

7:40 AM The consequences of constitutional ignorance.

7:35 AM Lindsey Hurd reviews How to Read a Book.

7:33 AM Ban truth, reap tyranny. Read the latest updated essay by Berit Kjos.

7:30 AM The Bikehiker is being impeccably logical, again:

All of the "evidence" and "rationale" for opening up a war in Iraq have collapsed like a house of cards. Still, our President doggedly deploys more troops to Iraq for a war he declared "won" a year ago.

Iraq did not provoke war. An American President declared he had the right to attack any nation he deemed a threat on "preemptive" grounds. He did so. Those "preemptive" grounds did not and do not exist.

If our nation is a nation that values the power of reason over the sheer use of whimsical and personal will, it follows that American citizens have every right and responsibility to insist that the American President use his "political capital" to extract his nation's young men and costly resources from a quagmire into which he blindly charged us.

Saturday, December 4

9:45 AM From my morning devotional:

Health is the balance between the physical parts of my body and all the things and forces surrounding me. To maintain good health I must have sufficient internal strength to fight off the things that are external. Everything outside my physical life is designed to cause my death. The very elements that sustain me while I am alive work to decay and disintegrate my body once it is dead. If I have enough inner strength to fight, I help to produce the balance needed for health. The same is true of the mental life. If I want to maintain a strong and active mental life, I have to fight. This struggle produces the mental balance called thought.

8:32 AM I can identify with Phil Kent's frustrations and struggles to be a good father. Read his testimony and let it encourage and motivate you this day to at least begin PRAYING more fervently that God would help you to become a godly leader in your home.

Let’s face it. Most of us fathers, including myself, have not done all God would have us to do in the teaching of our children. I have even struggled at times in being consistent in the planning of family devotions. However, God calls us to be spiritual leaders in the home in more than just title. When we ignore the call we are just plain disobedient. I cannot think of any good excuses, can you?

What can we do? Start with this day. What does God want you to do? Do not let my words, or your wife’s words guilt you into doing something in your own strength. Wait on the Lord, Pray about this, and let Him lead you. Maybe you are already doing enough, or even too much. If you were like me, you can start looking at how God has gifted you. Pray about how God can best use you and your limited time to help in the training process of your children. Maybe, you will need to give up some things, as I did. I am not watching as much TV.

Read Becoming a Spiritual Leader.

8:28 AM Want to teach your kids what real life is all about? Here's how.

8:23 AM "Bush Elected, Work Done."

8:19 AM And the winner is:




7:34 AM Youth Ministry Update: In 1968 W. J. Seaton wrote this essay on The Problem of Youth in our Evangelical Churches. I was a freshman in high school at the time and  leading our church "youth group." I am convinced now that this did more harm than good, as our youth group become a clique within the congregation and did very little by way of service to the senior adults. I can only wish that I had been exposed to essays such as the one by Mr. Seaton long before I left for college in California.

7:32 AM Destroying Fallujah to Save It: The following email I received yesterday is the perfect caption to Clay Bennett's latest cartoon on Iraq.

I used to be a great amateur student of the War Between
The States, & I agree with your perspective. I have long held that the
real substantive issue was almighty central government versus
constitutional republicanism. I would have to say I think black slavery
was pretty objectionable, but I would also have to say that the northern
remedy was immeasurably worse, both in itself & in its long term
consequences. Robert E. Lee is one of my enduring Christian heroes: so
gentle even in warfare. I love the way he restrained his army from
damaging civilian property, in contrast to the north's brutal "scorched
earth" policy, a precursor of such modern horrors as the fire bombing of
Dresden and - er - the American rampage in Iraq (destroying Fallujah in
order to save it, no doubt: the mass destruction of Iraqi civilian life
makes me numb with moral shock). One wonders whether some Christians
know anything at all about the "just war". It's all crusade these days.
Have we learned nothing from what the "Christian West" tried to do to
the Islamic world in the Middle Ages? Have we once again plummeted to
the level of "kill a Muslim for Christ"?

7:31 AM Meet "Rambo." He actually thinks America is safer because of the Department of Homeland Security.

Friday, December 3

7:15 PM I had an extremely busy day at the seminary, meeting with students and getting caught up with my faculty colleagues, so blogging has been kind of slow, but I did want to alert you to an excellent essay published today by Debbie O'Hare, who (like so many of us) thinks the Christian right has taken a hard turn to the left. Here's a teaser:

It seems that Christians will accept the lie of "liberalism" as long as it is disguised behind the term "Republican". I heard a lot of vitriolic speech spewed forth from professing Christians who were upset with their brethren who would not vote for George W. Bush. They said that not voting for Bush was the same as voting for Kerry. While I don't agree with that statement, I would at least like to comment that if Kerry was in the White House there would be far more objection from America's Christians to the totalitarian agenda being forced upon us!

I'm hoping to add many more items to tomorrow's blog just as soon as we set up my new PC and reinstall Front Page. Till then, God bless, and have a great evening.

Thursday, December 2

2:35 PM John Leone's excellent series on our culture wars is now complete:





The foundation of the authority of the church

The substitution of authority by the enemy within

Termites in our church foundations




The "Outdated Book" - Can it address our problems?

When churches ignore the Bible

Will you go to heaven if you are a "good person"?

Don't believe the false teachers




The uninvolved God

The emotionless universe of the Deist

Omniscient? Or not?

The futile mind of the spiritual deadman

Imposing on the Almighty One

2:31 PM I meet constantly with pastors who are alive to the very real need for reformation within our churches. What kind of man does God use in revival? Here are some insights from the Founders Journal:

  1. One must be willing to forfeit denominational popularity and public approval. The work of reformation is not the way to climb the denominational ladder. Sometimes sacrificial reformers may emerge as denominational leaders as some elements of reformation become widely embraced. But such status cannot be the immediate goal of a reformer.
  2. They will, at times, be in that awful task of tearing down some false super-structure that has been built without a doctrinal foundation. This super-structure was built by cheap, shallow, man-centered evangelism. Not only is the biblical teaching on grace victimized in these practices, but the Baptist distinctive of regenerate church membership suffers.
  3. Consequently, in a work of reformation, its promoters may have to suffer at the hands of a large, unregenerate church membership, and especially, from unregenerate and religiously ignorant deacons and leaders.
  4. They may also have to suffer the pain of being misunderstood by the church leaders, fellow ministers, and more painful still, sometimes by their own loved ones (wives who do not understand their husband’s position).
  5. This often leads to financial sacrifice, especially in some cases where carnal and ignorant church leaders use money as a threat to drive preachers from the pulpit.

1:15 PM The Bikehiker shares our concern about Bush's militarism. He writes:

MILITARISM ON THE RISE. I wonder: how long will America be known and feared for its new militarism? This is what we lead with now, isn’t it? Military might. Arms, war, violence. In the 1980’s, our nation began an unprecedented peace-time military build-up under Reagan. Now, in the name of “homeland security” and a nebulous “War on Terrorism,” George W. Bush has dramatically escalated militarism.

MILITARISM ON THE DOORSTEP. But militarism is no longer the nasty business America carries out overseas. It is now on our doorsteps.
Militarism is the spirit and policies we encounter everyday in our hometowns and households. We see and sense that we are living more and more in a police state.

AN ADDICTION WE CAN’T SHAKE. The end of the Cold War engendered hope for a transformation of our economy’s heavy reliance on the military-industrial complex into peaceful, world market developing purposes. But apparently America’s leaders are addicted to militarism. Since then,
they’ve used every excuse, every provocation, every conflict to rationalize and justify reinvestment in and new reliance upon military resources
. Under our current leadership, there appears to be no end in sight.

9:41 AM Here's an interesting website. Orange Ukraine is written by a Ukraine resident who writes first-hand accounts of what is going on in the protesters' tent city in Kiev. I remain very concerned about the situation there as I have a good friend from America who teaches at a seminary in Kiev.

9:30 AM Want a Christian name? You can forget it if you live here.

Wednesday, December 1

5:24 PM Wisdom from the House of Degenhart:

If you study the typology of Pentecost, you’ll find that the modern Pentecostals have it all backwards. Pentecost is not about speaking in tongues, its about hearing God’s voice, specifically his law, which is a part of his covenant with is and inseparable from it. The Bible shows that we have been steadfastly unwilling to do so, and the days of Pentecost in Exodus 19 and 1 Samuel 12 expose our tendency to want to appoint a man as a mediator between us and God instead of hearing him directly. In one sense this is quite right, for we do need a mediator, but the sin lies in trying to choose a mediator from men instead of accepting the mediator God appointed. Its a perversion of federal theology, if you will. The Pentecost of Acts 2 follows the resurrection of Christ, our true and only mediator who was both fully God and fully man. And though modern Christians accept Christ as their mediator, we are still guilty of the ancient sins of refusing to hear God’s voice and obey his law.

5:15 PM My son and I just got back from kidnapping our pastor's wife and taking her to a nice restaurant in South Boston (the nearest "big town" to our rural community) for lunch. What a blast! Then just a few minutes ago I checked in on the animals. What fun to be totally surrounded by all the horses and goats. Even the cows were trying to MOO-ve in on the action. Amazing how popular a bucket of Southern States Reliance 12 pellets can make you. Tonight it's Prayer Meeting - and I mean praying the WHOLE time we are there. Simply marvelous. I hope you had as great a day as I did!

9:59 AM Jonathan Grubbs just posted this helpful information for homeschoolers. Thanks, Jon, for the heads-up.

Free Homeschool Tracking Software

The Homeschool Tracker is a software program for your Microsoft Windows computer. It was designed to consolidate all of your tracking, reporting and record keeping tasks that we found ourselves performing as homeschool parents. Whether or not your state or school district has lenient reporting requirements, with Tracker's powerful and easy to use planning and scheduling features you will want to use the Tracker, not only for your mandatory recording and reporting tasks, but every day for management of assignments, reading lists, general record keeping, keeping track of attendance and grades/scores. This application was written using the latest Microsoft software development tools, and is available for Microsoft Windows only. The Basic Edition is offered for free (no strings attached, and no expiration date). The Plus Edition is available for purchase from their web site at a competitive price.


9:50 AM Your new school prayer (tip: Jim Rudd):

Now I sit me down in school
Where praying is against the rule
For this great nation under God
Finds mention of Him very odd.

If Scripture now the class recites,
It violates the Bill of Rights.
And anytime my head I bow
Becomes a Federal matter now.

Our hair can be purple, orange or green,
That's no offense; it's a freedom scene.
The law is specific, the law is precise.
Prayers spoken aloud are a serious vice.

For praying in a public hall
Might offend someone with no faith at all.
In silence alone we must meditate,
God's name is prohibited by the state.

We're allowed to cuss and dress like freaks,
And pierce our noses, tongues and cheeks.
They've outlawed guns, but FIRST the Bible.
To quote the Good Book makes me liable.

We can elect a pregnant Senior Queen,
And the 'unwed daddy,' our Senior King.
It's "inappropriate" to teach right from wrong,
We're taught that such "judgments" do not belong.

We can get our condoms and birth controls,
Study witchcraft, vampires and totem poles.
But the Ten Commandments are not allowed,
No word of God must reach this crowd.

It's scary here I must confess,
When chaos reigns the school's a mess.
So, Lord, this silent plea I make:
Should I be shot; My soul please take!


9:14 AM Dr. Mark Walton, pastor at Glenwood Baptist Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and a Southeastern graduate, has graciously invited me to give their Winter Bible Study this January. Mark has done a lot of study in the area of men's and women's roles in the church and has just published an essay at the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood website. You can access it here.

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