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March 2004 Blog Archives

Wednesday, March 31

11:45 AM The chapel messages this week have been powerful, inspiring, and text-driven. If you would like to listen to them please go to the seminary website at You will be blessed if you do.

9:35 AM Recent additions to the seminary library that I'm currently slogging through include Locating Paul by Matthew Skinner; The Gospel of Paul by Joong Suk Suh; Let's Study Hebrews by Hywel Jones; The Corinthian Body by Dale Martin; Paul Outside the Walls by Dean Bechard; 360-Degree Preaching by Michael Quicke; Whose Promised Land? by Colin Chapman (who, by the way, teaches Islamic Studies in Beirut); and A Detailed Analysis of the Constitution by Edward Cooke. 

8:00 AM Ron Holland has just posted comments from my review of his latest book Protecting Our Legacy at his website. It reads:

Essential economic truths are uncomfortable but critically important while there still may be time to save the United States from becoming its own worst enemy through antidemocratic ruling cliques that are part of its military industrial-complex. This book is certainly not pabulum, nor is it propaganda for right-wing think tanks. Ron Holland has produced a tough-minded and well-documented treatise that most Americans will sadly ignore. 

Having lived in Switzerland myself, I found Holland’s book extremely difficult to swallow. It’s not that I don’t believe what he has to say about the economic future of America; it’s that I don’t want to believe it. If everything Holland says is true, then we are in for a wake-up call far more serious than that of 9/11. The only question that matters now is: what can we do about it? 

Needless to say, the author has a myriad of helpful and sensible suggestions. My wife and I will take all of them seriously and, in fact, have already been pursuing several of the options Holland advises. I hope you will do the same. This book is one of the best, most comprehensive studies of human economics ever written. Most importantly, it is grounded in constitutional axioms and even encompasses a biblical worldview. What more could one ask for in these troubled times?

7:30 AM John Piper has written an excellent discussion of divorce and remarriage: Eleven Reasons Why I Believe All Remarriage After Divorce Is Prohibited While Both Spouses Are Alive

Tuesday, March 30

1:30 PM Who is a drummer, wrestling champ, solo guitarist, artist, photographer, bee keeper, football secretary, rock climber, and city attorney?

12:30 PM I love this essay on participatory church meetings:

The traditional Protestant worship service today strongly resembles a show business performance. In both we find ushers, programs, music, costumes, lighting, a chorus, a stage, a script, an audience, and a master of ceremonies. (Christian Smith, Going To The Root, Herald Press, p.88.) The congregation sits passively as the audience while the pastor performs. When the congregation is permitted to participate in the meeting, they are restricted to singing in unison, antiphonal readings, dropping money into the offering plate, and taking notes during the sermon. The ordained clergy are expected to perform all significant ministry. Meanwhile, ninety-nine percent of God's people attend worship services Sunday after Sunday for years on end, without ever contributing any true spiritual ministry to the body of gathered believers.

Read more.

12:15 PM Special invitation to DBO readers in the Dallas/Fort Worth area: I hope you can join me this Friday at the Greater New Zion Baptist Church, where I will be preaching at 7:00 pm. There's a rumor that several Southwestern Seminary students will be there, and I look forward to seeing my friend and former student Rev. Joe Patterson again. The address is 2210 Pine Street in South Dallas.

9:00 AM Another great essay from Heritage Community Church: A Biblical Confession for Uniting Church and Home. Here's an excerpt:

Rather than helping in this battle, unfaithful church leadership bears the primary responsibility for the vulnerability of the family in the face of its enemies. Unfaithfulness to God's Word in our pulpits has produced the decline of biblical Christianity and the dissolution of the family in our pews. The abdication of God's authority leads to unbiblical practices in the churches and to the erosion of biblical manhood and leadership. This in turn leads to the perversion of the role of women, the destruction of our children, and the collapse of our society. Traditions, which have originated in the minds of devils and fallen men, counterfeit God's authority. False doctrines derived from Darwinism, Marxism, Feminism, Secular Humanism, Psychology, and countless other unbiblical sources, have emerged from a society that has discarded Divine Revelation and have contaminated or replaced God's standards in many professing churches of the Lord Jesus Christ. The bitter fruit of this is the fragmentation, not the unity of the family.

To this I would add the unbiblical tradition of age-segregated ministries based on the myth of adolescence. The following essays also deserve a careful reading:

8:30 AM David Wells on the disappearance of theology

6:30 AM I've been keeping my son's Sheltie for the past few days. Shiloh is the most active animal I have ever seen. As soon as I get home he goes "Cato" on me (from the Pink Panther movies) - he eggs me on until I just have to jewel5y1.jpg (13362 bytes)chase him around the house until we both drop, exhausted, on the living room sofa. After supper we go for our nightly walk through the fields, during which he uniformly marks all the spots that say "This is my turf."  He is fearless - too much so for his own good, as when he tries to chase me while I'm riding one of my horses. But above all, Shiloh is absolutely loyal, and no matter what room I am sitting in he is right there, at my feet. It is my personal belief that not having a dog for one's children is a form of child abuse. As someone has put it:

“The dog was created specifically for children,” according to Henry Ward Beecher, and certainly there is something particularly beautiful and sweet about the relationship between kids and dogs. Growing up with a canine companion can teach children that responsible care-giving is well worth the effort for the love and loyalty they receive in return. A faithful pet can instill in a child a sense of trust and security that will carry over into human relationship. Dogs make great playmates, protectors and pillows—and they’re always available to listen and sympathize when parents, teachers, friends and siblings just don’t understand.

The long and short of it: I can't wait to get home this evening and chase Shiloh again.


6:10 AM Scott Brown, a friend of mine who is a teaching elder at Trinity Baptist Church in Wake Forest, suggests Ten Ways to Expose the Truth about Abortion.  Read what he says about "pedothesia."

6:00 AM Who can ever forget this day in 1981? My wife and I were living in Switzerland at the time and watched in horror as the film of the assassination attempt was shown over Ronald Reaganand over again on TV. Initially thought to be seriously wounded, the president made a speedy recovery, much to our relief.

5:50 AM David Brownlow is absolutely correct:

Traditional marriage was doomed the moment we agreed to give up our God given right to “become one flesh,” in exchange for the government licensed bribery that comes in the form of marriage tax breaks, health care benefits, retirement benefits and inheritance rights. Why should we be surprised if the government decides to change the terms of the contracts we have freely entered into?

Read The Separation of Marriage and State.

5:45 AM LRC this morning has an excellent post by a former infantry officer on the so-called Just War Theory, a theory which, as I noted in my essay The Theory That Backfired, is frequently misunderstood - and misapplied.

5:45 AM Eric Margolis argues that Bush's "war president" strategy is bound to backfire. I tend to agree.

This administration is running for re-election on its "war record" against Iraq, and its so-called war on terrorism. Bush is playing Franklin Roosevelt or Harry Truman.

But his claim to be a war president is like the man who murders his family, then begs for mercy because he is an orphan. The Iraq war was not one of self-defence, like World War II, but an unprovoked, illegal aggression engineered by the Bush administration and justified by a torrent of shameful lies. Bush's "war on terrorism" is a police action that was unnecessarily and foolishly militarized.

5:30 AM Alistair Cooke's Letters to America always fascinated and entertained. Cooke was also an astute social commentator, the likes of which are rarely seen this side of the Pond. To hear a sampling of his wonderful prose, not to mention his almost X-ray Reading Letter from America in the 1950sperception of the American psyche, this link has several of his talks. The best one, I think, is Two Nations Separated By One Language which, to hear, you must scroll down on the page. If, by the way, you tire (as I do) of pot-holed American English, the sort of which is found on NPR (with very few exceptions), you might have a listen to the BBC between the hours of 3-5 am. Absolutely delightful.

Monday, March 29

11:30 AM For those who want to forget theology and just "evangelize":

Let us not heed these siren calls to devise culturally relevant models of ministry. Let us refuse to fulfil the pseudo-Great Commission. Rather, let us stand firm in this evil day, clad in the whole armour of God, seeking to grow in our understanding and proclamation of the whole counsel of God. Then, we shall truly be, and make of others, disciples, not of cultural fads, but of the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

10:30 AM This from Boston?

No longer just for the religious fundamentalists, home schooling has gone main stream, especially in Massachusetts. It's estimated that as many as 20,000 children here have abandoned test-crazy public schools and high-priced private schools for the comfort of the living room couch. But most surprising of all is that Harvard, BU, Brown, and other colleges are welcoming home-schoolers like all other students.

Read Schoolhouse Rocked (link courtesy LRC.)

8:30 AM Mmmm:

LaHaye believes a sea change is occurring in the United States because of the success of the "Left Behind" series and Mel Gibson's movie.

"I have a feeling we've entered a new phase in America because of Mel Gibson," LaHaye says. "(His movie) was deeply felt, and it came from the soul. It shows there is a place in our culture for faith-based movies."

8:15 AM If you have a son or daughter in Iraq you ought to be outraged at Bush's callous joking about WMD. And I want to know this: why aren't our sons and daughters getting the best armored equipment for their protection and why are they having to make do instead with sand bags in their Humvees? Inexcusable, just inexcusable.

(Below: AP photo from a video showing President Bush searching the Oval Office for WMD in a spoof shown to White House radio and television correspondents in DC on March 24, 2004.)

In this photo from video, President Bush appears to search the Oval Office for weapons of mass destruction in a spoof shown to a dinner of White House radio and television correspondents in Washington,  Wednesday, March 24. 2004. Democrats have criticized the joke as inappropriate for wartime but the White House and Republicans believe the President was just poking fun at himself. (AP Photo/ APTN Pool

8:00 AM Just ran across the results of the latest blog awards. In the category "Best Designed Weblog" this site was the winner. Which made me think: Is there anything YOU don't like about MY blog? Or perhaps a feature you like? If you would take a moment and let me know, I promise to put your replies to work for the improvement of my little corner of cyberspace. Thanks!

6:45 AM Speaking of accomplishments, I want to brag on Traveller. Yesterday I taught him, in one fell swoop, to canter in place - all in preparation to teach him the even more difficult canter pirouette, an advanced dressage technique. When you recall that Mr. Trav. was born and bred a racehorse, I think that's saying a lot. I am amazed at how intelligent the hot-blooded breeds are (Thoroughbreds and Arabs), though it takes a great deal of tact to ride one at this level. If your aids are too light they'll be ignored; too heavy, and your horse is likely to go atomic on you. Traveller didn't even come close to that. Dressage now opens up a whole new panorama for us - a better understanding of my horse, of why he acts as he does, and why I must act as I do.

6:40 AM Carmon has done dooded it! Congratulations!

6:35 AM What a trend we have in Jesus.

6:30 AM Some good websites you might not know about:

6:25 AM Please continue to pray for Carrie McDonnall.

6:20 AM Another must-read (cough, cough) self-help book for moms.

6:15 AM "Faith-based organizations received more grant money from key government agencies in 2003 than in the previous year, according to numbers recently released by the White House." What a deal. Act religious and get government money.

6:00 AM A U.S. Senator changes his mind:

We had this feeling we could be welcomed as liberators. Americans don't know history, geography, ethnicity. The administration had no idea of what they were getting into in Iraq. We are not internationalists. We border on being isolationists. We don't know anything about the Middle East.

Friday, March 26

9:50 AM Ten minutes till the BLOGATHON. Much success, Carmon!

9:35 AM Then again, there's the story of when Andrew Jackson received an honorary doctorate from Harvard back in 1833. His schooling was meager, and the entire ceremony was in Latin. To express his thanks he thundered out all the Latin he knew and sat down:

"E pluribus unum, my dear friends! Sina qua non! Quid pro quo!

Hmmm. Would that pastors were that honest with their audiences.

9:30 AM Ok, so maybe something good can come out of Gibson's Hollywood - like the revival of interest in Latin, a really great language. Students, listen up:

Non scholae sed vitae discimus!

8:30 AM Thanks to Charles Porter for sending in these good ol' fashion down-to-earth country sayings. I can personally attest to the truthfulness of most of them!

  • Don't name a pig you plan to eat.

  • Country fences need to be horse high, pig tight, and bull strong.

  • Keep skunks and lawyers at a distance.

  • Life is simpler when you plow around the stumps.

  • A bumble bee is faster than a John Deere tractor.

  • Trouble with a milk cow is she won't stay milked.

  • Words that soak into your ears are whispered, not yelled.

  • Meanness don't happen overnight.

  • To know how country folks are doing, look in their barns, not their houses.

  • Never lay an angry hand on a kid or an animal, it just ain't helpful.

  • Teachers, Moms, and hoot owls sleep with one eye open.

  • Forgive your enemies. It messes with their heads.

  • Don't sell your mule to buy a plow.

  • Two can live as cheap as one if one don't eat.

  • Don't corner something meaner than you.

  • Man is the only critter who feels the need to label things as flowers or weeds.

  • It doesn't take a very big person to carry a grudge.

  • Don't go huntin' with a fellow named Chug-A-Lug.

  • You can't unsay a cruel thing.

  • Every path has some puddles.

  • Don't wrestle with pigs: You'll get all muddy and the pigs will love it.

  • The best sermons are lived, not preached.

  • Most of the stuff people worry about never happens.

7:00 AM                                                             This:

Or this:

The choice is yours.

6:55 AM Mike Tuggle does it again. Mike, don't click here.

6:25 AM "Woman surfer loses in men's event," is the headline in this morning's BBC News. For what it's worth, when I was surfing in Hawaii there were plenty of lady surfers. At my high school Layne Beachley(at Kailua HS we were known as the "Surfriders") I had lots of competition from two or three juniors and seniors who could do everything the guys could do. Sure, they didn't do the big wave thing as much, but on anything 10-feet and under they were awesome.

6:15 AM Churches are such lovely hospitals.

6:05 AM We're currently adding some final touches to our four-country Reformation Tour that is scheduled for May 29-June 9, 2005. We've added a stop at Bethlehem Chapel in Prague; Herrnhut, Germany, meeting with local believers there; the Lutherhalle Museum in Wittenberg; a brief stop at Halle to learn about Halle pietism; an organ concert in Erfurt; the church castle in Marburg; the Basel Cathedral with its spectacular view of the Rhein; the church in Zurich where Zwingli preached (I will read excerpts from his old sermons from the very pulpit he used); a trip by cable car to famous Mount Pilatus; and the Bodmer Museum near Geneva containing an original of Luther's 95 Theses. As soon as we finalize the cost I will publish the entire itinerary. I'm limiting the tour to 40, so I do hope that many DBO readers will plan now to join us. (Below: Picturesque Basel, where my wife and I lived.)

6:00 AM Topics for my New Testament class in Norfolk: The authorship of Hebrews; the discourse structure of Hebrews 1:1-4 and 12:1-2; literary artistry in Hebrews; do elders rule?; the requirements for elders according to the Pastoral Epistles; the role of women in church, family, and society. Needless to say, I'd appreciate your prayers.

Thursday, March 25

8:05 AM Pastor Joe Wright of Wichita’s Central Christian Church once gave this invocation to the Kansas State Legislature. Do I hear an "Amen"?

Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance.

We know your Word says, "Woe to those who call evil good"; but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values. We confess that we have ridiculed the absolute truth of your Word in the name of "moral pluralism".

We have worshipped other gods and called it "multiculturalism". We have endorsed perversion and called it "an alternative lifestyle". We have exploited the poor and called it "a lottery". We have neglected the needy and called it "self-preservation". We have rewarded laziness and called it "welfare".

In the name of "choice" we have killed our unborn. In the name of "right to life" we have killed abortionists.

We have neglected to discipline our children and called it "building esteem". We have abused power and called it "political savvy". We've coveted our neighbors' possessions and called it "taxes". We've polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it "freedom of expression". We've ridiculed the time-honored values of our fore-fathers and called it "enlightenment".

Search us, oh God, and know our hearts today.
Try us, and show us any wicked in us.
Cleanse us from every sin, and set us free.

Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of Kansas and have been ordained by you to govern this great state. Grant them your wisdom to rule, and may their decisions direct us to the center of your will.

I ask it in the name of your Son, the Living Savior, Jesus Christ.

8:00 AM Just what we need: another Windex Cathedral.

6:15 AM Now that The Passion has arrived in Korea, I pray that Korean pastors will exercise great discernment about the movie. I have taught there five different times in four different Korean seminaries and am hopeful that Korean Christians will recognize such distorted movie images for what they really are: spiritual adultery.

The truth is that God in His sovereignty has provided all that we need to be spiritually quickened by the magnitude of Christ’s truth. It is through God’s Word (His ordinances and His doctrines contained therein), the power of His Spirit, and the Body of Christ, that God may grant to believers the opportunity to be “strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19).

Therefore, it is a risky endeavor for any Christian to believe he has the ability to go beyond what God has perfectly ordained for his sanctification. If a Christian feels compelled to use a movie or any other manmade device as a tool to manipulate his emotional or spiritual attachment to Christ, he must ask himself if he is really open to the leading of the Holy Spirit and the dictates of Scripture or whether he is trying to make his desires sovereign over God‘s will.

What Christians need to understand is that the ultimate spiritual adultery is committed not so much because we try to replace Christ in our heart with manmade images, but because we try to replace the sovereignty of God with our own sovereign desires to worship God as we please.

6:05 AM We waste our time on silly anti-abortion license plates when the real issues elude us.

6:00 AM Guess who?

[He] possessed historical imagination in the sense that he could make the characters live before the reader. He learned how to do this work in his lectures to theological students in Strassburg and Geneva. He seized the heart of Scripture and made it popular, though thoroughly scholarly. He came at times to have an audience of one thousand eager listeners. What he cared for most, as he himself states, was to get the spirit of the writer with clearness and brevity. He insisted on clearness and brevity as absolutely essential for a true interpreter.

Read Calvin as an Interpreter of Scripture by Baptist scholar A. T. Robertson.

5:45 AM In my morning devotional I reflected on these great thoughts by Francis Schaeffer:

God willing, I will push and politick no more.... The mountains are too high, history is too long, and eternity is longer. God is too great, man is too small, there are many of God's dear children, and all around there are men going to Hell. And if one man and a small group of men do not approve of where I am and what I do, does it prove I've missed success? No; only one thing will determine that--whether this day I'm where the Lord of hosts and King of kings wants me to be.

O Lord, MY Lord, may it be so!

Wednesday, March 24

5:30 PM Here are some aerial photos of Rosewood Farm, VA. In the foreground below is "Maple Ridge," our son's house, the oldest part of which dates back to the early 1800s, along with the horse barn, chicken coop, corn crib, and storage sheds. The vegetable garden to the left of his house will be put to good use shortly. In the very bottom left of the photo is the farm's cemetery, in which is buried a great American patriot, Corporal Anderson Boyd of the 59th Virginia, CSA.

And here's "Bradford Hall" (ca. "1820," though completed in 2004!), along with the heart-shaped pond we dug. As you can see from the road in the foreground, we are in the process of fencing in all of the pastures for our goats and horses. It takes a while when you cut down and install your own cedars!

Finally, several aerial views of the two houses as seen from different angles in beautiful Mecklenburg County, VA.

A major tip of the kepi to my friends and colleagues Drs. Shawn Madden and Ivan Spencer (who operate for braving the cold temps early last Friday morning to get these pics. Bravo!

9:50 AM This little church went to market....

7:55 AM Guess what else is being outsourced to India?

7:25 AM Jerry Falwell made this statement in chapel yesterday; he is surely right: "All our failures are prayer failures."

7:20 AM "I had a bitter life when I lived with the Khmer Rouge. I caused hardships, committed very vicious and cruel acts," said Ung Khorn, now a missionary who recently helped baptize several dozen former comrades. "But when I started believing in Jesus, I became a gentler person." Now this is good news.

7:15 AM Before you listen to Dick Clarke's testimony today, read this:

But on to the substance. Clarke's main argument—made in his new book, Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror, in lengthy interviews on CBS's 60 Minutes and PBS's Charlie Rose Show, and presumably in his Ballot Box: Why the Bushies Can’t Handle Ittestimony scheduled for tomorrow before the 9/11 Commission—is that Bush has done (as Clarke put it on CBS) "a terrible job" at fighting terrorism. Specifically: In the summer of 2001, Bush did almost nothing to deal with mounting evidence of an impending al-Qaida attack. Then, after 9/11, his main response was to attack Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11. This move not only distracted us from the real war on terrorism, it fed into Osama Bin Laden's propaganda—that the United States would invade and occupy an oil-rich Arab country—and thus served as the rallying cry for new terrorist recruits.

7:05 AM Churches in flames. Guess where?

Serbian church being burned in Mitrovica

7:00 AM With the U.S. Supreme Court hearing oral arguments today in a case involving the constitutionality of the phrase "under God," I couldn't help but recall the timely comments of Brad Edmonds on the pledge posted at LRC:

Most significantly, "I pledge allegiance…to the republic for which it stands" is a logical impossibility in light of our republic’s own founding documents. From the Declaration of Independence: "That to secure [our unalienable] rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." Put another way, the government exists for the benefit, and at the will, of the people – not the other way around. The government should die immediately for the benefit of the governed if such a course is indicated by circumstances – not the other way around. Since the government is an institution of men, even in the ideal case (never seen since Washington’s administrations) that government men obey the laws that restrict their official activity, it is ridiculous on its face for you or me to pledge allegiance to men in Washington we haven’t met if doing so conflicts with what’s good for us and our families (assuming we pursue what’s good for our families without aggressing against innocent others).

Tuesday, March 23

12:40 PM As always, Chuck Baldwin is right on target.

It is time that pro-family, pro-life, and pro-constitution people understand that neither the Democrat nor Republican Parties represent them in Washington, D.C. They also need to understand that they do have a choice: the Constitution Party. Its Party's nominees will be on the ballot in some 40 states, and they will be faithful to truly represent America's founding principles.

third party

12:35 PM Writes R.C.:

So what does this tell us about how to grow the church? It demonstrates that we're listening to the wrong experts. Even the pagans know it is wise to counter-program. When everyone is going one way, go the other way. You will stand out. You will be noticed. You will be effective. If there were such a thing as a "seeker", someone who is looking for something, they would certainly not be looking for more of the same, or a bad imitation of what he is fleeing. When the world gives us mindless drivel, then is the time to say of the church, "Come in here. You'll get none of the nonsense you're so tired of." When the world is happy and light, we need to be somber, serious. When the gods of this world are distant, spineless, voiceless, reflections of our baser selves, our duty is to present the on true God, transcendent and immanent, omnipotent and tender, the God who speaks with all authority and wisdom. And we need to reflect not the perverse generation from which we have been saved, but Him in whom we have been regenerated, Him whose image we are to be.

Talk about Swimming Upstream.

9:30 AM Here is an interesting chart comparing the church growth movement's philosophy with that of the Scriptures.

Monday, March 22

11:30 AM He was born not too far from our North Carolina home, in Warren County. His home in Warrenton can still be visited today. Happy Birthday, General!  

Braxton Bragg, Commander, Army of Tennessee

11:00 AM Cartoon of the week:

10:15 AM As usual, Eric Margolis is impeccably logical as he warns against creating another Ayatollah Khomeini in Southern Asia:

What should the U.S. do? The most sensible course: hand Iraq to the UN and pull out. This would produce intense neocon wailing about loss of credibility and giving in to terrorism. But in fact, the longer the U.S. stays in Iraq, the more credibility it loses, and the more it stokes terrorism.

Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. Archive pictureIf a total pullout is not in the cards, then the best option is to co-operate with Iraq’s Shia majority and show that the U.S. can work fruitfully with an Islamic regime. Co-operation with Islamists in Baghdad opens the way to good relations with Tehran and a major lessening of anti-American feelings across the Muslim World. But of course, the neocons will do their best to thwart such détente.

The United States has not enough men, treasure, nor intellectual energy to struggle through the morass of Mesopotamian politics and ethnic strife. Governments can usually only think of two or three things at a time, and the mess in Iraq should not be one of them. Otherwise, it will come to bedevil us and sap our energies, just as Iran did in the late 1970s and ’80s. Unless we learn from our errors and work to co-operate with the latest problematic mullah, Ayatollah Sistani, he could well be come the nemesis his predecessor, Imam Khomeini, did just two decades ago.

(The BBC has an excellent profile of Sistani here.)

10:00 AM This just in: Seaman Frank Collins, a sailor on the ill-fated Confederate submarine CSS Hunley, will return to his state of birth for full honors in the Virginia State Capitol on Friday, March 26. Collin’s remains will be delivered to the South Portico of the Virginia State Capitol at 9 am by a six-horse team and caisson. Trailing the caisson will be imagea rider-less horse. At the South Portico, Seaman Collins' casket will be removed from the carriage and placed in the Old Hall of the House of Delegates for the remainder of the day. The Virginia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans will conduct a special memorial ceremony honoring Seaman Collins and providing a historical lecture on the importance of the Hunley to naval warfare. Proclamations by the Virginia General Assembly and statements by Governor Mark Warner will be read.

On Saturday, March 27, the casket of Seaman Collins will be on view in the Museum of the Confederacy before returning to South Carolina. On April 17, the remains of all the Hunley crew will be buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston, South Carolina. Yours truly will be marching in the funeral procession. It has been estimated that crowds could reach as many as 100,000 for perhaps the last burial of Confederate sailors or soldiers.

9:10 AM Les nouveaux objectifs d'Al-Qaeda:

La tragédie de Madrid a montré que l'organisation terroriste Al-Qaeda pouvait frapper, plus de deux ans après la chute des Twin Towers, au cœur même de l'Europe. Et, surtout, que les réseaux islamistes tissés par Oussama ben Laden gardent leur capacité de nuisance en dépit de l'offensive généralisée pour les démanteler et des actions menées contre les bastions situés dans les zones tribales de la frontière pakistano-afghane. Comment Al-Qaeda continue-t-elle à communiquer avec les poseurs de bombes disséminés à travers le monde? Quels objectifs visent les chefs de la nébuleuse terroriste? Des questions auxquelles l'enquête sur les attentats de Madrid permettra peut-être de répondre. Al-Qaeda semble en tout cas avoir adopté une nouvelle stratégie: choisir sa cible en fonction de la situation politique des pays qu'elle entend châtier.

9:00 AM Berit Kjos continues her excellent series on the church growth movement with this essay.

8:45 AM On this day in 1758 the great educator and churchman Jonathan Edwards died as a result of a smallpox inoculation. He is known for his fire-and-brimstone preaching, but his lesser known sermons include one of my favorites: God Glorified in Man's Dependence.

jesml.jpg.jpg (10210 bytes)

7:00 AM U.S. to retain power in "sovereign" Iraq.

Friday, March 19

9:40 AM Corey Keating has an excellent survey of Greek grammars for those of you who want to expand your library of Greek tools.  

8:40 AM "When Jesus finally dies, people in the audience with me have been reduced to loud weeping on several occasions. Some of them have even stopped eating their popcorn and drinking their cokes." Read Bruce Chilton's review of The Passion.

8:15 AM Three cheers for the Lone Star State!

7:50 AM Just in time for Easter! Official merchandise from The Passion now includes "crucifix nail" pendants.

Official merchandise for the film include 'crucifix nail' pendants

7:40 AM As you know, we named our new home Bradford Hall partly after William Bradford, whose birthday we celebrate today. The following comes from the American Minute:

William Bradford was born this day, March 19, 1590. He sailed with the Pilgrims on the Mayflower and was chosen as their governor in 1621, being reelected 30 times until his death. In his History of the Plymouth Plantation, William Bradford wrote of the Pilgrims' plight: "What could now sustaine them but ye spirite of God and His grace? May not and ought not the children of these fathers rightly say: Our fathers...came over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this wilderness; but they cried unto ye Lord, and He heard their voyce... All great and honourable actions are accompanied with great difficulties...Last and not least, they cherished a great hope and inward zeal of laying good foundations, or at least making some ways toward it, for the propagation and advance of the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in the remote parts of the world, even though they should be but stepping stones to others in the performance of so great a work."

7:30 AM This morning a colleague of mine will be taking aerial photos of Bradford Hall and the farm in Virginia, including the original house (seen below). The weather today couldn't be better for this outing. I'll try to post some photos early next week.

Thursday, March 18

2:00 PM Another great Spurgeon quote:

I used to think, sometimes, that if they had degrees who deserved them, diplomas would often be transferred, and given to those who hold the plough-handle or work at the carpenters bench; for there is often more divinity in the little finger of the ploughman than there is in the whole body of modern divines.

9:00 AM Today at 1:00 I will be holding a prayer vigil in my office remembering the families of the missionaries who were slain in Iraq and praying for Carrie McDonnall's recovery. All are welcome to join me.

8:45 AM From a column I wrote a year ago:

As our brave military men and women are placed in harm’s way, it is shameful for pundits to trifle with them. War must never be glorified, never trivialized, and never free of consequences. While there are some excellent educational programs on TV, they are far outnumbered by stupid or blatantly violent programming. It is a sad day when people laugh at things that should make them cry. Fools may mock sin. But God is not mocked.

Read War Must Never Be Trivialized.

8:30 AM Robert Higgs, author of Against Leviathan, takes stock of our Iraqi policy one year later:

What we see in Iraq one year after the invasion might have been foreseen, and in fact was foreseen, by anybody who cared to take the trouble to look into the matter without ideological or religious blinders and with a modicum of historical background on the conduct of U.S. foreign policy during the past century. This war, like all the others, has been not so much a case of who knew what when, of well-intentioned mistakes and tragic miscalculations. It has been more a case of who told what lies to whom, to serve what personal, political, and ideological ends; of who paid the price in blood and treasure and who came out smelling like a rose; of mendacity and irresponsibility in high places and of colossal public gullibility in the face of relentless political opportunism. As the saying goes, the more things change . . . .

7:30 AM What famous Baptist preacher said this?

Long ago I ceased to count heads. Truth is usually in the minority in this evil world. I have faith in the Lord Jesus for myself, a faith burned into me as with a hot iron. I thank God, what I believe I shall believe, even if I believe it alone.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, "Prince of Preachers."

Wednesday, March 17

2:45 PM About 10 percent of Southern Baptist churches have pastoral vacancies at any given time.

2:20 PM Flickerings offers a  representative survey of Jesus movies, from 1902 to 2004. An interesting read.

9:20 AM The words of George H. W. Bush (A World Transformed, p. 489):

Extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq ... would have incurred incalculable human and political costs ... We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad ... [and] rule Iraq ... Under those circumstances there would have been no viable exit strategy ... the U.S. could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land.

This mother would certainly agree.

7:45 AM In the face of declining support in Spain for the occupation of Iraq and despite increasing U.S. pressure on the UN, other nations might well follow Spain's example, as these charts indicate:

7:10 AM Michael Peroutka on the jobs crisis in America:

"On his recent trip to Cleveland, President Bush said he understands and shares the concerns of Ohio workers who are unemployed because of so-called 'outsourcing,' because their jobs went overseas. But, Mr. Bush does not seem to understand the pain and heartache caused by such job losses. If he did understand, he never would have signed his "Economic Report of the President" which says regarding outsourcing that 'when a good or service is produced more cheaply abroad, it makes more sense to import it than make or provide it domestically.'

"Really? Makes more sense to whom? Certainly not to the millions of Americans who are expected to loose their jobs because foreigners can do
Michael Peroutka for President 2004
Click Here to go to his website.their work more cheaply. So much for the President's 'compassionate conservatism.'

"And this raises an important moral question. Is just buying things cheaper all that America is about anymore? Is that it? God forbid. And I mean this literally - may God forbid that we ever become such a 'bread-alone' nation.

"In his Cleveland address, Mr. Bush attacked those of us who want to preserve American jobs for Americans saying that we want to return to the old policy of economic isolationism and this is a recipe for disaster. Well, (1) The 'old policy' of trying to protect American workers was, for decades, the official policy of the Republican Party as spelled out in its Platform. (2) It's the phoney religion of 'free trade' that has been disastrous for American workers."

For the official platform of the Constitution Party on trade issues, go here.

7:00 AM A year ago today I wrote:

Today, March 17, is Saint Patrick’s Day. Patrick was a Christian missionary who lived from the late 4th century A.D. to the mid 5th century A.D. and who is credited with converting Ireland from paganism. For many celebrants, Paddy’s Day has come to epitomize all that foreigners seem to Image of Gen. Cleburnethink being Irish involves—wearing green, getting drunk, eating plenty of food, saying “sure and begorrah,” or dancing like a crazed idiot.

There are, of course, many good reasons to celebrate Irish heritage today, not the least of which is to commemorate the life of a true Irish-American hero, Patrick Ronaynes Cleburne, born this day in 1828 at Annbrook House, Glenmore, in County Cork. Enlisting in the 41st Regiment of Foot, Cleburne’s unit was charged with maintaining order in a country racked by potato famine. In 1849 Cleburne moved to America and practiced law in Arkansas. In 1862 he received a commission as brigadier general in the Confederate Army. He was only one of two foreign born officers to attain the rank of major general in the Confederate armed forces.

Read more about the Stonewall of the West  here.

Tuesday, March 16

12:45 PM Mr. Charles Porter just sent me this salutary reminder:

He was called the "Chief Architect of the Constitution," and wrote many of Portrait of James Madisonthe Federalist Papers, which where instrumental in convincing the States to ratify the Constitution. He introduced the Bill of Rights in the first session of Congress. As President, he and his wife Dolly had to flee the White House when the British set it on fire during the War of 1812.

Who was he? James Madison, born this day, March 16, 1751. James Madison, in his Memorial and Remonstrance, wrote: "Before any man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe."

Thanks, Charles. I visited Madison's Montpelier in Orange County, VA, last year and was impressed with the historic renovation it is undergoing. It is tragic that Madison would not recognize his own country were he to come back today.

9:45 AM Rodney Decker has just published a thorough review of the English Standard Version. Read it here. (To my students: Please note how Decker ably treats the ESV's sometimes erratic approach to Greek syntax.)

9:00 AM From the vault: Remembering the People of the Towel.

Three victims, from left: Martha Myers, William Koehn and Kathleen GarietyClick to download Hi-Res Photo

8:00 AM Who would march in a four mile funeral processional to honor men who died over 137 years ago? I would, and will.

7:00 AM The Spanish have the flu as "Coalition of the Willing" breaks up. What's next for Spain, U.S.?

Monday, March 15

3:00 PM My self-imposed reading assignment for the week includes: Das Johannes-Evangelium by Eugen Drewermann, The Gospel to the Romans: The Setting and Rhetoric of Mark's Gospel by Brian Incigneri, The Gospel of Mark by Francis Moloney, The Gospel of John (Volume 1) by Graig Keener, First and Second Thessalonians by Richard Mayhue, The Law and the Gospel by Ernest Reisinger, and The Study of the New Testament by Antonio Pinero and Jesus Pelaez. Most of these authors are my friends and acquaintances, and it is good to see how their work has developed through the years. I am especially excited to see the last-mentioned work in print, as I fondly recall lecturing for Professors Pinero and Pelaez during a visit to Spain's Costa del Sol several years ago. I even had the audacity (stupidity?) to give my lecture in Spanish, though afterwards I recall that they asked to translate it into Castilian for publication. (If any of you would like to read my lecture - on John and Gnosticism - I will be happy to send you a copy. Just send me your name and mailing address.)

12:30 PM The wisdom of Jonathan Edwards (Men Naturally are God’s Enemies, pp. 132, 138-139):

The apostasy of man summarily consists in departing from the true God, to idols; forsaking his Creator and setting up other things in his room...The gods which a natural man worships, instead of the God that made him, are himself and the world...They are not willing to accept Christ; for in doing so, they must of necessity part with all their sins; they must sell the world, and part with their own righteousness...He is a Savior appointed of God; he anointed him, and sent him into the world. And in performing the work of redemption, he wrought the works of God; always did those things that pleased him; and all that he does as a Savior, is to his glory. And one great thing he aimed at in redemption, was to deliver them from their idols, and bring them to God.

11:30 AM I came, I saw, I made Mel rich.

11:15 AM As Spain returns to a more traditional non-interventionist role after the conservatives' defeat, it seems likely that the Spanish military will quickly be recalled from Iraq. It's ironic that so few Americans would understand the saying on this placard (and I'm not referring to the fact that it's in Spanish):

10:30 AM For anyone interested in church history, I am currently in the final stages of planning a 12-day Grand Tour of the Reformation, which I will host. It will include stops at such historic sites as Prague, Wittenberg, Eisleben, Erfurt, Marburg, Mainz, Worms, Heidelberg, Strasbourg, Basel (where my wife and I used to live), Zurich, Lucerne, Lausanne, and Geneva. Highlights include overnighting in the Wittenberg Castle and a special tour of Anabaptist  sites in Zurich. Tentative dates are May 29-June 9, 2005, and I am trying to keep the price under $2,500 (which will cover round trip airfare from North Carolina, meals, and four star hotels). I plan to give daily Bible studies on the great solas of the Reformation. As soon as the details have been set I will post them here. (Below: The Castle Church in Wittenberg where Luther posted his 95 Theses.)

9:30 AM From the Council of Trent:

Whoever shall affirm that men are justified solely by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, or the remission of sin to the exclusion of grace and charity, which is shed abroad in their hearts, and inheres in them; or that the grace by which we are justified is only the favour of God; let him be accursed.

It is amazing to me how this all-important issue is being overlooked in the debate over Gibson's movie/mass. Please take the time to read Ian Paisley's excellent essay on Justification.

9:20 AM This Thursday in Greek class we will be discussing a very important textual variant in 1 Timothy 3:16 and whether or not Jesus is explicitly being called "God" in this passage. This is one of the very few places in the Greek New Testament where the text types are equally divided (the Byzantine text reads "God," the Western text has "which," and the Alexandrian text reads "who"), so that the internal evidence takes on greater importance than usual. I, for one, believe the the reading "God" has sufficient textual support and will try to make that case in print in the near future. The practice of abbreviating "God" in the uncial manuscripts of the New Testament made the distinction between "God" and "who" dependent merely upon two small strokes of the pen, one written within the first letter and the other written above the two letters. An accidental (or deliberate omission) of these strokes could easily account for the reading "who." Copyists facing the odd reading "Great is the mystery who was manifested" would have been tempted to alter "who" to "which." Soweit meine Gedanken!

9:00 AM Apparently the latest reality TV show is in trouble. I have a lot of respect for the Amish (as I tried to explain in my essay In Praise of Southern Agrarianism), but if people want to get their kicks poking fun at someone's rural lifestyle so be it. I still think one of the greatest compliments I was ever paid was when a colleague called me a red neck.

7:30 AM Liberty and localism scientifically proven.

7:15 AM Don't you love spring time?

7:00 AM Weekend highlights: (a) Fellowship and prayer at our church in Virginia; (b) Good, long hand-gallop on my thoroughbred Traveler; (c) Daffodils blossoming at Bradford Hall; (d) Finished painting the exterior of our North Carolina home; (e) Chickens sitting and laying again; (f) Reread Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle; (f) Mowed for the first time since fall.

This week's goals: (a) Walk my students through the Greek participle; (b) Write another chapter in my Hebrews book; (c) Finish prospectus for a new book, The Text-Driven Sermon; (d) Prepare 5 new sermons on church reform for my upcoming revival in Virginia.

Saturday, March 13

7:15 AM Hard to believe, but it was just a week ago that we had our dedication service at Bradford Hall, and we have begun moving a few essentials into the house, including a new coffee maker. I couldn't believe it when a neighbor gave us some Kona Coffee for our open house. In Hawaii I enjoyed this delicious blend but hadn't had any in years. It was but another reminder of how gently and graciously the Lord Jesus has led my wife and me in all this. We are often thanking Him for His goodness, because each step of the way He has given us something better before He took away the lesser. The way has been sweet, and the stones He has given us from the midst of the Jordan have been overwhelmingly wonderful. To those who attended the open house last weekend I again want to say how honored we were that you took the time to share in our joy. It is our prayer for you and your families that you may at every turn know His protecting and leading arm.  It is also our prayer that the whole Body of Christ will be moved - men and women committed to the leading of the Spirit and therefore more ready for tomorrow's wider battles. God bless each and every one of you, and have a wonderful weekend.

7:00 AM Why would a "Christian" film director cast hardcore pornography stars in a movie about Jesus Christ? And why haven't any of the alleged “Christian” reviewers of Gibson's movie mentioned these facts? Read An International Hoax.

Thursday, March 11

7:20 PM From the vault: Stonewall was right

6:20 PM Paul Proctor offers part 2 of his Big Screen Jesus on Gibson's Passion. Read it and weep.

But, the lies, errors and distortions in the film are only secondary sins. The primary problem is not believing God. Had we simply taken Him at His Word, rejected the false image offered and stayed at home with our bibles instead of running out to a movie theater to see what Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were keeping from us, there would be no controversy, contradiction or confusion. But, by disobeying God, ignoring His Word and pursuing a charming pretender, we forfeit our faith, lose our discernment and begin believing all of the bittersweet lies that follow. Worse yet, we end up defending them. Why? Because, like the caller said, they’re "powerful, realistic and apropos."

2:20 PM Roger Nicole writes:

We are called upon by the Lord to contend earnestly for the faith. (Jude 3) That does not necessarily involve being contentious; but it involves avoiding compromise, standing forth for what we believe, standing forth for the truth of God-without welching at any particular moment. Thus, we are bound to meet, at various points and various levels, people with whom we disagree. We disagree in some areas of Christian doctrine. We disagree as to some details of church administration. We disagree as to the way in which certain tasks of the church should be pursued. And, in fact, if we are careful to observe the principles that I would like to expound for you, I would suggest that they may be valuable also in disagreements that are not in the religious filed. They also would apply to disagreements in politics or difficulties with people in your job or friction within the family or contentions between husband and wife or between parents and children. Who does not encounter from time to time people who are not in complete agreement; therefore it is good to seek to discover certain basic principles whereby we may relate to those who differ from us.

Read How to Deal with Those Who Differ from Us.

2:15 PM A must read: The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 Rewritten in Modern English.

2:10 PM The book of Hebrews always circulated as a Pauline letter in the early church.  This is yet another reason why I espouse Pauline authorship.

2:00 PM The 100 most mispelled (er, misspelled) words in English (and how to avoid them).

7:50 AM You must see what this lady has to say.

7:45 AM At the breaking point.

7:30 AM Several readers were encouraged by our essay on Paul's thorn in the flesh. Writes one:

Dear Dr. Black,

God bless you for putting "Paul's Thorn in the Flesh--and Ours" on daveblackonline. I needed very much to read it today. I had never considered the possibility that the thorn was, perhaps, another person or circumstances external to Paul. I especially liked the part where you say that ". . . it was *in* his suffering that he was to fulfill his missionary calling."

Thanks again for your wisdom and passionate scholarship.

Another appreciated our emphasis on pastoral involvement in politics:

Bro. Dave,

Your web site is wonderful!

I just reviewed your article, "Pastors, Join the Black Regiment." I've been preaching and lecturing for years on the Black Regiment, so it's a blessing to see someone else actually mention them.

Tragically, several hundred thousand churches have already made the decision to serve the State, specifically through incorporation and the 501c3. Some have done so deliberately, because they are Erastians. But many more have done so unwittingly and out of ignorance. For them there is hope, but only if we can get them the right information to help them correct their problem.

Thanks to all for taking the time to write.

7:00 AM This essay notes how powerful the conservative Christian voting bloc can be in an election year. It also raises an important question: Is the leaven leavening anymore?

The numerical picture is startling, and it reveals a political indiscipline among conservative Christians that stands in stark contrast to the efficient political machines of the left. Approximately 103,210,000 votes were cast in the 2000 presidential election. 136 Million people comprise the self-identifying adult population of the top 8 Christian denominations. If half of those vote (68m), and 40% of them are socially conservative (27.2m), then social conservative possess a nearly unrivaled voting bloc, if such self-discipline could be coordinated among social conservatives. But it cannot, so long as conservative Christian leaders remain in the tainted thrall of the GOP. If this bloc were to be organized, it would hold the key to national elections for the next generation, and could reshape the political landscape entirely by forcing its legislative agenda on office seekers and incumbents. This is precisely what will not happen. The blandishment and baksheesh of statists has proven far too intoxicating for Christian "leaders" who want a place at the table of power. What other explanation can there be for moral "lions" who meekly line up before the lion tamer every fourth year. If only our unity with compromise will win the day, it has only won the day for compromise.

Our fate is clear: until prominent Christian leaders begin to expend political capital on the formation of an electoral challenge to the anti-Christ corporate-owned and operated single-party socialist-fascist statism that is the reality of American government, not a particle of change will occur. We will continue to stand amazed before the phantasmagoria of mass psychological manipulation and electoral engineering performed like a childs magic show for the citizens of this country.

Read Gary Demar Calling the Faithful Home to The GOP.

Wednesday, March 10

2:00 PM Are there apostles today? Read Apostles and Prophets and the Foundation of the Church.

1:20 PM A man once criticized the late nineteenth century preacher Dwight Moody for D. L. Moodyhis involvement in political affairs.  “Are you not a citizen of heaven?” the detractor asked.  “Yes, someday I shall be,”  Moody responded, “but right now I’m registered to vote in Cook County, Illinois.” 

12:50 PM The sin sniffer's catch-all verse

12:45 PM Steve Haymond has some important things to say about the power of peer pressure to (negatively) influence young people and some practical advice for pastors on how to implement an age-integrated philosophy of ministry. A snippet:

As parents we intellectually acknowledge this total depravity in our children. But it seems to stop with our minds. If we really believe our children are foolish by nature and vulnerable and susceptible (like the "young man lacking sense" in Proverbs 5), why do we group them together so much apart from our direct guidance as parents? Children (esp. younger ones), when given enough time and opportunity, will follow their nature and will soon do in the absence of their parents what they would never do in their presence (assuming good discipline in the home, of course). Why is this? Well, it certainly is not the child's fault. I think we can only blame ourselves as parents. Many of us parents seem unaware of the danger of peer dependence because we ourselves are peer dependent and, like the proverbial frog in boiling water, have slowly adopted the values of the world almost unawares. Our children are merely following us.

See also Scott Brown's Three Questions Regarding Youth Groups.

7:45 AM Photos of Bradford Hall, taken at our open house and dedication service last Saturday, just before our guests arrived. 

The day started out cloudy and rainy, but the weather cleared up just before people began arriving, and eventually blue skies returned to Southside Virginia. We named our farm "Rosewood" after the wild rose bushes on the land (including the many we planted).

The Hall is situated in a secluded area surrounded by 123 acres of fields and stands of pines and hardwoods. First we cleared the land and then dug this acre and a half pond. (For you fishermen out there, we recently stocked it with 400 bass.) Then came the house, which took us 23 months to complete. If you're used to the city or the suburbs, you'll find the silence here almost deafening. I call the upstairs porch my "deer stand."

The "wood" siding is actually a product called Hardy Plank, which reputedly needs fresh paint only every 50 years or so (we'll see about that!). We bought our front door at an antique store in South Boston. It dates from the 1850s (note the wavy glass) and took four of us to lift into place. Originally it had double doors, but we built a new new single door from wood we scavenged.

Our next project is to fence in the fields you see in the distance and build a new horse barn.

The Hall has five wood-burning fire places. We named this guest room the "Renn Room" since the doors and the wood used for the wainscoting, mantle, etc. came from the historic Renn House in Granville County, North Carolina (built ca. 1780). The painting over the mantle is of the original plantation home - a beauty in her day. 

7:30 AM What to do with the household deity.

7:25 AM My friend Scott Brown of Trinity Baptist Church explains the value of children worshipping with their parents.  

7:10 AM This is a must-read essay on The Contemporary Church.

7:00 AM The immortal words of John A. Broadus (1827-1895), formerly professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, begin my day:

Brethren, we must preach the doctrines; we must emphasize the doctrines; we must go back to the doctrines. I fear that the new generation does not know the doctrines as our fathers knew them.

Tuesday, March 9

5:40 PM A word to my Intermediate Greek students: As we study 1 Timothy 3 and biblical eldership in the church this week, please note what The Abstract of Principles of the Southern Baptist Convention states: "The regular offices of a Church are Bishops or Elders, and Deacons." Observe, also, that the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 states: "Its [the church's] scriptural officers are pastors and deacons." Please read and exegete Ephesians 4:11-12 before coming to class, as well as the assigned texts from 1 Timothy.

5:30 PM Doug Bandow has written one of the best assessments of our Iraqi policy that I have seen in a long time. For his two-part series, go here.

5:15 PM Check out Lew Rockwell's new homeschooling archives.

1:15 PM Just ran across this interesting essay by Jacob Hornberger, who wants to know if we're electing a president or a military leader:

Amidst all the hubbub among the Democratic Party candidates for president over who supported President Bush’s invasion of Iraq and who didn’t, have you noticed that not one of them has brought up the Constitution and, specifically, the constitutional requirement that the president secure a congressional declaration of war as a prerequisite to waging war?

No; while some of Democrats are supporting the president’s judgment in attacking a sovereign and independent nation that had not attacked or threatened to attack the United States, and while others are questioning his judgment, none of them is questioning his claim of omnipotent power to send the entire nation into war solely on the basis of his own initiative. After all, don’t forget that even though the Congress enacted a resolution in which it delegated its power to declare war to the president (unconstitutionally, I might add), the president made it very clear that he didn’t need such authorization. While he welcomed congressional support, he consistently said, the decision to declare war was his and his alone.

But isn’t the omnipotent power to send a nation into war traditionally characteristic of societies suffering under dictatorial regimes?

Hornberger concludes (to which I say "Amen!"):

Despite all the customary political fanfare that comes every four years, the critical choice facing the American people is not whom to elect as their next commander in chief. It’s whether to replace the current paradigm of perpetual war, empire, militarism, and omnipotent government that holds our nation in its grip with a different paradigm based on liberty, peace, republic, and constitutionally limited government. Once the new paradigm replaces the old, we’ll be once again be voting for president rather than commander in chief.

1:10 PM "Artificially restraining young people in institutions for the purpose of controlling their experiences and behavior delays the reality of learning to make responsible choices. The current system hurts young people while stifling the maturation process, and it leaves a vacuum of those who are willing to train for leadership, cheating our nation as a whole." Read more.

1:00 PM Jim Rudd, editor of Covenant News, used to be a Republican's Republican. That was then.

The man out on the street sees a Republican administration committed to keeping the nation's abortion clinics open. They see a Republican President honoring sodomites in the White House and appointing them to positions of influence and authority. And all so-called "pro-choice" and "gay-rights" activists know full well that President Bush has requested and approved federal taxpayer funding supporting their criminal and vile activities.

Have Christians no knowledge of what this Republican Party association is doing to our witness? How can Christians call murderers and sexual criminals to repentance through Jesus Christ when Christians are identified with the Republican Party which is gladly funding those criminals' activities?

Go here for more.

11:00 AM Which state has 785,000 government employees and counting?

9:40 AM Do not call your Congressman.

9:35 AM Insanity defined.

9:30 AM A portrait of my son Nathan (he's the spittin' image!):

General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson

9:20 AM The Review of Biblical Literature just published two reviews of Peter Stuhlmacher's Revisiting Paul's Doctrine of Justification.  

9:15 AM The word "elder" means "older man" (it is the comparative form of the adjective "old"). Thus the Greek word presbuteros implies age. For example, in 1 Peter 5 Peter addresses the elders/older men and tells them to pastor and overseer the flock of God. Immediately afterwards he tells the younger men: "likewise ye younger submit yourselves unto the elder." Clearly, the contrast involves one of age. If we want to know which age is meant, I believe a case can be made for 30, based on Jesus' life and ministry (see my book The Myth of Adolescence, "Jesus and the Age Thirty Transition"). Younger men lack the maturity and life experience to lead and feed the flock of God. Do we, then, "lay hands too quickly" on some men?

9:10 AM Listen up, "pastors." All New Testament churches had elders. If yours doesn't, may I ask, why not?

8:50 AM One reason I oppose "public" education is the government's position on school vouchers. What's even worse is the way conservative Americans are swallowing the lie about government-sponsored "solutions" to education. Clearly, freedom from government regulation is a thing of the past. The opportunity to compete in a free and open society is fast disappearing, and the “progressives” are doing all they can to hasten the complete demise of republicanism in America. Their idea of “liberty” is special status based on race, social disabilities, and personal and sexual preferences. And they have enormous muscle due to the support they receive from those in positions of power in society, Democrats and Republicans alike. The alternative? Vote for biblical principles of education.

8:40 AM Our men and women overseas deserve the very best. It is inexcusable for them to go into battle unprepared, ill-equipped, and poorly led. Col. David Hackworth notes:

We’re engaged in a terrorist conflict that will no doubt prove to be the longest and nastiest war in our country’s history. Which means we can’t tolerate slack such as: Three National Guard combat brigades being deployed to Iraq that aren’t good-to-go; our deploying warriors still being sent to the killing fields without sufficient armored vests and vehicles; and the outrageously high number of active-duty and reserve-component troops who aren’t deployable but are being paid to soldier anyway.


All of the above – all fixable – can be blamed on bad leadership. There are just too many Perfumed Princes sporting stars who are politicians, lobbyists and salesmen rather than soldiers. Abe Lincoln went through a squad of such spoilers before he found a U.S. Grant. Today, he’d probably have to sort through at least a battalion of the top brass to find one Ulysses. 

Read In Search of a Ulysses.

8:00 AM Our open house and dedication service at Bradford Hall on Saturday was greatly blessed of the Lord. I will post pictures shortly. Heartfelt thanks to all of you who attended. You truly honored us with your presence.

7:15 AM Mr. Rich Holland offers this rejoinder to an essay by R. C. Sproul:

Not long ago, readers of DBO were encouraged to read The Pelagian Captivity of the Church, a compelling corrective of today’s easy-believism in so-called “evangelical” churches, written by R.C. Sproul. While I have the deepest respect for R.C. Sproul as a theologian, and while I found myself saying “Amen!” at several points made in the article in question, I must humbly ask readers of DBO to consider carefully some dubious suggestions included in the article. I believe Dr. Sproul is on the verge of denying a clear teaching of scripture: that human beings are (at least in some sense) free. Even if you don’t agree with me on that point, let me encourage you to consider the following:

1. Sproul seems to have done some of what Paige Patterson has called “Waffle House Theology.” This is the practice of coming to the Biblical text with a preconceived notion of what it means (our waffle iron mould), and then trimming off those passages of scripture that don’t fit our preconceived ideas (like bits of waffle batter that run out of the mould). When we fail to take into account certain passages of scripture in our theology, and then we go back and read those passages that we have not taken into account, we are forced to interpret these passages in light of the “more important ones.” So now, when Scripture tells us that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” (1 Timothy 2:4, NKJV) we have a small problem. After all, even if man is not free, certainly God is free to do whatever He desires, right? Well, then, since God is free and humans are not, then either this passage teaches that all will be saved, or that “all” doesn’t mean “all.” Ah, yes! God simply desires all of the elect to be saved. Or take the book of Jonah, for example. Did the people of Nineveh have the real ability to repent? Oh, sure they did, because that is what they did. But did they have the real ability to not repent? If we say they had no such ability, then it seems we have to turn the book on its head, and believe that the plain and obvious meaning of the text is not the real meaning of the text. Perhaps it is a bit of cosmic theater put on for Jonah’s benefit, and the people of Nineveh were just puppets on strings used by God to teach Jonah a lesson about repentance (although I’m not sure why this lesson would have been necessary if humans are not in some sense free). My only point here is that we should take all of Scripture into account before we come down on any issue of Theology; otherwise it seems that we have to ignore some passages in favor of other passages. (And remember, Sproul elsewhere defends paedobaptism . . . from Scripture!)

2. Much of Sproul’s argument is based on the false assumption that Divine Sovereignty and human free will (rightly understood) are not compatible. Now clearly the Bible does not affirm that human beings have unlimited freedom. But equally clearly, it teaches that human beings have some freedom. Perhaps the trouble here is in our terminology. It seems to me that God is the only one who is free. Human beings simply have a limited power of moral choice. But where does Sproul get the idea that these two ideas are not compatible? It seems as if he is suggesting that where the Bible affirms God’s sovereignty, we should take it at face value; but where the Bible affirms the human power of moral choice, we should “read between the lines” and understand that no such power actually exists. Why can’t we take both sorts of passages at face value? Why must we assume that God’s sovereignty and the human power of moral choice are incompatible? For further reading, see William Lane Craig, The Only Wise God (Wipf and Stock, 2000)

3. Sproul has set up for his readers a false dilemma; namely, we are asked to choose between Sproul’s position, in its entirety, and the “already-condemned-by-the-church” Pelagianism. At this point, the un-informed reader may say to himself, “Well, I don’t want to be accused of Pelagianism, because that was condemned by the church as heresy. If that is my only alternative, then I must agree with Sproul. He must be right!” Now, this move on Sproul’s part is pretty common among those who wish to strong-arm their opponents into recanting their obvious theological error and finally siding with wisdom. But no matter how common, it is nonetheless very weak argumentation. After all, similar arguments sometimes say, you must be either Calvinist or Arminian! There is no other alternative! This line of reasoning seems to be blatant trickery on the part of one who knows the statement to be false. (It can’t be theological ignorance, can it?) To say that all of what Scripture teaches about salvation is bound up so neatly by Calvin that our only alternative is to either agree completely with Calvin or choose Jacob Arminius does a great disservice to both Calvin and Scripture.

4. Finally, Sproul seems to be talking out of both sides of his mouth a bit. It is obvious in his essay that Sproul relies quite heavily on the leaders of the Reformation in stating his understanding of both soteriology and anthropology. Sproul is asking his readers (implicitly) to stand with the fathers of the Reformation in their commitment to “Sola Scriptura.” But let me ask a serious question here: Can one claim “Sola Scriptura” with intellectual honesty, and at the same time quote Calvin or Luther on matters of anthropology and soteriology? Why not stand firm with the leaders of the Reformation and rely on Scripture alone as the source of truth on such matters? In spite of the great respect that we all ought have for such giants as Calvin, Zwingly, and Luther; I would argue that while it is possible to form his position from Biblical argumentation, Sproul’s approach in the essay in question is tenuous at best, and at worst . . . well, this is a friendly rejoinder. I’m sure you get the idea.

7:00 AM Just read this heart-warming letter from a reader in Southern California (where we lived for 27 years).

Dear Mr. Black,

Thanks for the positive press on the Constitution Party. I never would have thought that holding the Bible as the rule and guide of my faith, and the Constitution as the limit of government would make me a "right-wing nut"; the former tells us the Truth about our enslavement to sin, and the latter attempts to keep us from being enslaved by our own creation. Honestly and forthrightly accepting our inescapable flaws is anathema to the politically-expedient version of tolerance and diversity. Funny, isn't it?

In the eighth grade (Casimir Middle School, Torrance CA), we studied the Constitution in my social studies class. As English electives in high school (North Torrance High), we read the Bible as a literature.

Even at the time, I knew that understanding the Bible and Constitution was essential to understanding my culture and society.

Thanks for the interesting and informative articles on Gen. Lee's faith, thoughts and motives. Too few people know that the Confederacy was motivated more by the preservation of State sovereignty than the preservation of slavery.

Friday, March 5

2:20 PM I love getting mail about my negative appraisal of seeker-sensitivity. The larger issue is that of our standards for "success" in the evangelical church, and on this topic Nathan Busenitz has ably defended a biblical perspective:

If numbers were the only standard of success, The Purpose-Driven Church by Rick Warren would stand as one of the greatest books of our time. Having sold over one million copies in 20 different languages, it was selected as one of the “100 Christian Books that Changed the 20th Century.” Its supporters include men like W. A. Criswell, Bill Bright, Jerry Falwell, Robert Schuller, Adrian Rogers, and Jack Hayford. And the church that serves as its paradigm, Saddleback Church of Southern California, has grown from the house where it started (in 1980) to a weekly attendance of 16,000.

Yet, numbers are not the only measure of success—in fact, they’re not the standard at all. Rather, God teaches that His standard is faithfulness to His Word. After all, 1 Timothy 3:15 says that the purpose of the church is to be “the pillar and support of the truth.” And 2 Timothy 2:15 says that the purpose of the pastor is to accurately handle “the word of truth.” It is “the knowledge of the truth” that leads to godliness (Titus 1:1), and it is “obedience to the truth” that purifies the soul (1 Pet. 1:22). Thus, “as fellow workers of the truth” (1 John 3:18), pastors should seek to minister “for the sake of the truth” (2 John 2), in order that the people in their congregations might be those “who walk in truth” (2 John 4). The biblical standard of success is never numbers, but rather the accurate proclamation of God’s truth (2 Tim. 2:15; James 3:1). With this in mind, Warren’s seeker-sensitive model reveals several weaknesses.

For more, go here. It's true when I say it: I would rather go into the catacombs and my congregation be reduced to the size of Jason's household than to adopt an unbiblical model of "growing" the church.

2:15 PM I always enjoy reading R. C. Sproul. Here he is at his best, clarifying for us certain popular "analogies" that are used to justify our rampant easy-believism:

I heard an evangelist use two analogies to describe what happens in our redemption. He said sin has such a stronghold on us, a stranglehold, that it's like a person who can't swim, who falls overboard in a raging sea, and he's going under for the third time and only the tops of his fingers are still above the water; and unless someone intervenes to rescue him, he has no hope of survival, his death is certain. And unless God throws him a life preserver, he can't possibly be rescued. And not only must God throw him a life preserver in the general vicinity of where he is, but that life preserver has to hit him right where his fingers are still extended out of the water, and hit him so that he can grasp hold of it. It has to be perfectly pitched. But still that man will drown unless he takes his fingers and curls them around the life preserver and God will rescue him. But unless that tiny little human action is done, he will surely perish.

The other analogy is this: A man is desperately ill, sick unto death, lying in his hospital bed with a disease that is fatal. There is no way he can be cured unless somebody from outside comes up with a cure, a medicine that will take care of this fatal disease. And God has the cure and walks into the room with the medicine. But the man is so weak he can't even help himself to the medicine; God has to pour it on the spoon. The man is so sick he's almost comatose. He can't even open his mouth, and God has to lean over and open up his mouth for him. God has to bring the spoon to the man¹s lips, but the man still has to swallow it.

Now, if we're going to use analogies, let's be accurate. The man isn't going under for the third time; he is stone cold dead at the bottom of the ocean. That's where you once were when you were dead in sin and trespasses and walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air. And while you were dead hath God quickened you together with Christ. God dove to the bottom of the sea and took that drowned corpse and breathed into it the breath of his life and raised you from the dead. And it's not that you were dying in a hospital bed of a certain illness, but rather, when you were born you were born D.O.A. That's what the Bible says: that we are morally stillborn.

Read The Pelagian Captivity of the Church.

10:55 AM From Washington's Farewell Address (1796):

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

10:50 AM Even with 650 million Euros spent and 50,000 policemen on standby, Greece may still not be ready for the Summer Games.

10:30 AM Pat Buchanan may be cuter, says Linda Muller of the Buchanan Brigade, but she still plans to vote for Michael Peroutka.

                                            Michael A. Peroutka

10:20 AM It's almost here: The New Europe, with 10 new members.

Am 1. Mai 2004 bekommt die Europäische Union zehn neue Mitglieder: Estland, Lettland, Litauen, Malta, Polen, die Slowakei, Slowenien, Tschechien, Ungarn und Zypern. Wir haben hierfür ZEIT-Beiträge zu unterschiedlichen Aspekten aus Politik, Kultur und Wirtschaft der Länder gesammelt. Berücksichtigt wurden auch die Länder Rumänien, Bulgarien und die Türkei. Unsere interaktive Karte führt Sie zu den gesuchten Ländern.

Europe remains the "Spiritual Dark Continent." So where are the missionaries?

10:15 AM Reformation and confession cannot be separated.

9:15 AM All this talk about a federal marriage amendment misses the real issue: What right does government have to license marriage in the first place?

Incorporated churches make themselves liable for complying with a myriad of laws which, had they not incorporated, they would not be subject to. Such is the case of the marriage license statutes which most states today have. Those statutes are fairly uniform, courtesy of the Uniform Marriage License Act.

Marriage licenses are a relatively recent phenomena (not unlike church incorporation). The Uniform Marriage License Act started being promoted to the several states shortly after the turn of the twentieth century. It was adopted by most of the states by 1927. It was also around that time that the states started issuing marriage licenses to just about anyone who wanted one.

At first, about the only people who really wanted a marriage license were non-Christians who wanted their ceremony performed by a judge, justice of the peace, etc., rather than by a clergyman in a church. Some of them did so out of convenience, or not wanting to go through the bother of planning an elaborate church ceremony. But there were also some who rejected marriage as ordained by God, and viewed it as a State institution and, therefore, a "civil contract."

Marriage back then was much more clearly understood by most people (even most non-Christians) as being an institution ordained by God, not the State. Therefore, one usually went to a clergyman for their marriage counsel and preparation, and the solemnization of the marriage ceremony took place in a church. To this very day even many non-Christians want to associate their marriage with a "religious ceremony."

Over a period of time, and for reasons that I find difficult to comprehend, many Christians started asking for marriage licenses, as well. Our reasons today seem much different than those folks who took them decades ago. Most of us just do so out of complete ignorance. The law doesn't require it; but some people just think they can't do anything without their government's permission, so they get married by license.

Now just about everyone gets married by license. Those that don't are often accused of "living in sin." My 93-year old grandmother was not married by license. Most people back then didn't get a marriage license. You may insult me personally any way you want, but if you say anything about my grandmother "living in sin" with her husband for not taking a State license, there may be an altercation. You'd also better not say anything about my momma and aunt being "illegitimate" just because grandma didn't have a license to make babies.

Back then the institution of marriage was not thought of as a "civil contract" but a God-ordained covenantal institution. The State was not a party to that institution, as it usually is today by license.

Marriage is a covenant. It is entered into by a vow taken before witnessess -- usually one's own friends -- those who will (or at least should) hold us accountable should we breach our vows. To this very day most people still practice the old biblically-based customs in their marriage ceremonies, even though they, at the very same time, effectively repudiate the sufficiency of that covenant and of their vows by taking a State license.

The State licensing of marriage has had enormous consequences on our civilization, none of which have been positive. State-licensed churches will continue to aid and abet the State in the nation's downward spiral.

Free-churches, on the other hand, have an incredible opportunity to start turning our nation around by building families founded upon biblical covenantalism, rather than civil contract.

God willing I'll be writing a book on the origin of the marriage license, how we got to where we are today, and what we can now do about it. In the meantime, we'll try and address your issues and concerns here about the State marriage license.

8:30 AM This weekend, my wife and I have the privilege of dedicating Bradford Hall, our new home at Rosewood Farm in Virginia, to the Lord. The Hall is named in honor of three of her ancestors: Governor William Bradford, Dr. William Bradford Brooks, and Mr. Bradford Noyes Lapsley.

William Bradford, author of the Mayflower Compact, was governor of the Plymouth Colony for 30 years and helped shape and stabilize the political institutions of the first bradhead.JPG (58502 bytes)permanent settlement in New England. Bradford is remembered mainly for his contribution in nurturing the fledgling colony’s democratic institutions, such as the town meeting, thus establishing traditions of self-government that would set the pattern for national political development in years to come. Cotton Mather described Bradford as “a person …well skilled in History, in Antiquity, and in Philosophy….But the crown of all was his holy, prayerful, watchful, and fruitful walk with God, wherein he was very exemplary.”

William Bradford Brooks, my wife’s paternal great-grandfather, grew up in East Texas at Brooks Saline, the largest supplier of salt to the Trans-Mississippi Confederacy. Third National Flag of the Confederacy, 1865During the War for Southern Independence he served in the First Texas Heavy Artillery guarding the Texas Coast. Later he became a medical doctor in Fort Worth. A pioneer in the field of medicine, he founded the Texas Medical Examiner, the first medical journal in Texas, and was also the first doctor to specialize in the treatment of chemical dependency. He is also said to have had the first telephone in Texas; it ran from his home outside to his office.

Bradford Noyes Lapsley, my wife’s father, served with the Sudan Interior Mission as [Crowned Lion Flag of Ethiopia]a pioneer missionary to Southern Ethiopia in the 1950s. Today he continues to translate and publish works for Ethiopian pastors in the Amharic language. He has left a lasting legacy in the lives of thousands of Ethiopians whom he has touched with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Our son Nathan served as chief architect and master builder of Bradford Hall. He designed it to replicate an early 1800s Georgian/Federal style plantation home. The wings and porches reflect additions that would have been added in the 1880s, while the bathrooms and back porch would have been added in the 1950s.

The room styles reflect several architectural periods: Greek Revival (the dining room, master bedroom, and upstairs hall), Georgian (the entire second story), and Victorian (the office and porches). Features of the Greek Revival Period include large columns, carvings, arched windows and transoms, and corner blocks. Georgian features include beaded surrounds and heavily raised panels. The expansive porches and delicate fretwork reflect tastes prevalent during the Victorian era.

In constructing the Hall, Nathan utilized wood from actual structures from these periods, including the Renn House (ca. 1780), the Dr. Mudd House (ca. 1820), the Dodd House (ca. 1890), the Hobgood Family House (ca. 1880), the Warrenton Train Station, as well as doors made by the famous furniture maker, Thomas Daye (d. 1858).

It is our prayer that God will use our home as a place where visitors can sense His presence and love and be challenged and encouraged to serve Him wholeheartedly. We humbly and gratefully dedicate it to His service. The theme we have chosen for Bradford Hall is Joshua 24:14-15:

Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

Wednesday, March 3

9:35 AM George Washington's prayer was on my heart and lips this morning:

Most Gracious Lord God, from whom proceedeth every good and perfect gift, I offer to Thy Divine Majesty my unfeigned praise and thanksgiving for all Thy mercies towards me. Thou mad'st me at first and hast ever since sustained the work of Thy own hand; Thou gav'st Thy Son to die for me; and hast given me assurance of salvation, upon my repentance and sincerely endeavoring to conform my life to His holy precepts and example.

Thou art pleased to lengthen out to me the time of repentance and to move me to it by Thy Spirit and by Thy Word, by Thy mercies, and my own unworthiness, I do appear before Thee at this time; I have sinned and done very wickedly, be merciful to me, O God, and pardon me for Jesus Christ sake; instruct me in the particulars of my duty, and suffer me not to be tempted above what Thou givest me strength to bear. Take care, I pray Thee of my affairs and more and more direct me in Thy truth, defend me from my enemies, especially my spiritual ones.

pvf300.gifSuffer me not to be drawn from Thee, by the blandishments of the world, carnal desires, the cunning of the devil, or deceitfulness of sin. Work in me Thy good will and pleasure, and discharge my mind from all things that are displeasing to Thee, of all ill will and discontent, wrath and bitterness, pride & vain conceit of myself, and render me charitable, pure, holy, patient and heavenly minded. Be with me at the hour of death; dispose me for it, and deliver me from the slavish fear of it, and make me willing and fit to die whenever Thou shalt call me hence.

Bless our rulers in church and state. Bless O Lord the whole race of mankind, and let the world be filled with the knowledge of Thee and Thy Son Jesus Christ. Pity the sick, the poor, the weak, the needy, the widows and fatherless, and all that morn or are broken in heart, and be merciful to them according to their several necessities. Bless my friends and grant me grace to forgive my enemies as heartily as I desire forgiveness of Thee my heavenly Father. I beseech Thee to defend me this night from all evil, and do more for me than I can think or ask, for Jesus Christ sake, in whose most holy Name & Words, I continue to pray, Our Father, Who art in Heaven....

9:30 AM David Kay is now telling the Bush administration to come clean about WMD. Indeed, according to the UN, Iraq had no WMD after 1994. Didn't the White House know this? I would add: How about fessing up on what you knew about the threat from Osama? Keep in mind that the relatives of 9/11 victims have sued the airlines for lax security measures, though it may be more likely that they will find the U.S. government to blame for the lack of security preparedness on September 11. At least that’s the conclusion of an 800-page report prepared by a joint congressional inquiry detailing the intelligence and law-enforcement failures that preceded the attacks. The report includes provocative, and apparently unheeded, warnings given President Bush and his top advisers during the summer of 2001.

Sources who have read the congressional report say one portion deals with the flood of U.S. intelligence-agency reports in the summer of 2001 suggesting that Al Qaeda was planning an attack against the United States, thus raising serious questions about how Bush and his top aides responded. One such CIA briefing, in July 2001, was particularly chilling. It predicted that Osama bin Laden was about to launch a terrorist strike “in the coming weeks.” The intelligence briefing went on to say:

The attack will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties against U.S. facilities or interests. Attack preparations have been made. Attack will occur with little or no warning.

The report gives specific names and dates, and provides new information about the handling of many other crucial intelligence briefings, including one in early August 2001 given to national-security adviser Rice that discussed Al Qaeda operations within the United States and the possibility that the group’s members might seek to hijack airplanes.

Such revelations, if true, would have far-reaching consequences. What took place on September 11 was an atrocity. But what has followed qualifies as tragedy. President Bush has received full authority to wage war against all who abetted the slaughter. But as the president directs the moral outrage of his wounded nation, he will need to remember that sacrificing truth is just as unacceptable as sacrificing innocent lives. It’s time for the White House to come clean on just what it knew about a possible terrorist attack on the United States—and when it knew it. The victims of 9/11 deserve it, and so do their survivors.

8:30 AM Andrew Wilson has emailed me links to his excellent essays on the New Testament text. His topic is Demythologizing New Testament Textual Criticism.

7:30 AM Jacque Ellul on images and their tendency to replace intellectual discernment:

Make no mistake here: this is how modern people usually think. We are arriving at a purely emotional stage of thinking. In order to begin reacting intellectually, we need the stimulus of an image. Bare information or an article or book no longer have any effect on us. We do not begin reflecting on such a basis, but only with an illustration. We need violent visual impact if thought is to be set in motion. When we jump from image to image, we are really going from emotion to emotion: our thought moves from anger to indignation, from fear to resentment, from passion to curiosity. In this manner our thought is enriched by diversity and multiple meaning but is singularly paralyzed with respect to its specific efficacy as thought.

Read more from The Humiliation of the Word.

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