What’s Wrong with the World

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The men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.

About

What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

February 12, 2019

"Like nothing I've ever seen."

What are we to make of the evidence released by the Pentagon of UFOs?

It may seem a strange question, but the facts force themselves upon the skeptic. The US military supplied the public, about 18 months ago, with three extraordinary videos; and permitted some of the principals involved in the events therein recorded, to authenticate certain details in interviews.

What it comes to this: US military has hard evidence of aerial propulsion, aerodynamics, and avionics well beyond anything in our own arsenal. These videos were recorded by veteran Navy and Air Force combat pilots, flying front-line aircraft, deploying front-line sensor technology, and maneuvering into engagement patterns in order to investigate. One retired pilot describes the acceleration of the object he observed as “like nothing I’ve ever seen.”

(I thought about adding a bunch of links, but that seems tedious.) I’ll give you one video, and one link, and let you readers poke around from there:

Let’s take this logically.

(A) If countries adversarial to America have access to tech at that level, we need to know about it ‒ pronto. The Pentagon thinks the Russians can deploy that kind of thing in the Pacific, or the Chinese in the Atlantic? Fine, that needs to be public knowledge.

(B) If the Pentagon, alone on earth, can deploy that kind of tech, if in other words what these videos reveal, amounts to some kind of black ops or skunk works program discovered by unsuspecting pilots ‒ well, again, out with it. This is a republic and information like that needs to be public knowledge.

Given the unlikelihood of (A) and (B) ‒ and the release of these videos themselves is suggestive of that unlikelihood ‒ we’re compelled to consider another possibility; namely, that the videos present us with technology from elsewhere. Where is anybody’s guess. Cue the X-Files music.

So to answer my question: what are we to make of this business? We are to make of it that we don’t know what to make of it. But that alone is a big step. On occasion, to open a question, to merely declare our inability to draw firm conclusions, comes to something of great significance.

At last we can say this at least, the old and haunting question of UFOs is an open question.

February 5, 2019

On that (in)famous "saints rising" passage in Matthew 27

Why this post?

I am right now in the midst of writing an entire book on literary device theories and the historicity of the Gospels, using the work of Michael Licona as one of my main foils. (See here for all of my New Testament posts to date and here for a gateway to my 2017 Licona series. Scroll down in the latter for blurbs on each of the 2017 posts in the series.)

It suddenly struck me that I have no place in that book that really fits for a discussion of the passage that many people (unfortunately) think criticism of Licona's work is "really all about"--namely, the raising of the saints narrated in Matthew 27:51-53.

Since I like my work to fit together with a clear logical structure, and since I already have several appendices on other topics planned for the book, I was rather puzzled about what to do. It is a sociological fact that much controversy swirled around Licona's questioning of the historicity of this Matthew passage in his 2010 book, The Resurrection of Jesus, and that is how it has come about that so many people think that this is all "just about that." One of my major goals in the enormous amount of work I have done thus far is to dispel that mistaken view. Indeed, all of my work in disagreement with Licona could be written without mentioning that passage! (That's not to say there wouldn't be any connection. Just that it isn't necessary to discuss it to write what I've written. And the connection is somewhat indirect.) So the last thing I want to do is to create confusion once again on that point.

The decision that I've made in the end is to write up a thorough, careful post on the subject. (This one.) I will explain here why this discussion is somewhat tangential to the subject of the book. And I will discuss why I believe Licona's arguments for ahistoricity at that point in Matthew are weak. Then, in the book, I will include a footnote that refers to this post, summarizing very briefly what I say here and sending readers here for more details. It's perhaps not a perfect solution to the practical and organizational issues, but I think it's the best solution I can come up with.

Continue reading "On that (in)famous "saints rising" passage in Matthew 27" »

January 30, 2019

Roe v. Wade and the will to evil

The World Trade Center lit up recently in celebration of the passage of a new New York abortion law. As reported, it does indeed legalize abortion up until birth. The definition of "health," of course, is completely loose, and the abortionist gets to decide what counts. Other states, including Massachusetts, Virginia, and Vermont, are seeing a push from Democrat lawmakers to pass similar laws.

It's good to see my pro-life friends once more having the opportunity to point out the extremism of the pro-aborts. And if you had any doubt, bang on cue, here's an article that says the NY law still isn't radical enough, since the transparent excuse of "health" still has to be used in order to carry out a late-term abortion. Awww. The poor people who want to kill babies late in pregnancy have to check a phony box before doing so. Tsk tsk.

The publicity that this law is receiving may help to open some eyes.

What pro-lifers are not saying much, though, is this: This is the regime of Roe v. Wade. We may be nervous about saying it, lest we sound ho-hum about what New York just did. We don't want to sound like we are speaking like the pro-aborts: "This law doesn't change much. It encodes Roe in case the conservatives on SCOTUS overturn Roe."

Well, we should be so lucky as to have SCOTUS overturn Roe. I fear that isn't going to happen, at least not if "overturn" means what any pro-lifer means by that.

But the fact of the matter is that, with a few notable exceptions, the New York law replaced an obsolete dead letter, a pre-Roe law that remained on the books, with a law that enshrines the radical pro-abortion mandate of Roe.

Continue reading "Roe v. Wade and the will to evil" »

January 29, 2019

Death Penalty and Proportionality

Opposition to the death penalty (DP) takes many forms, but the ones I am focusing on here are objections based on a seeming difficulty with the thesis that the DP is the proportionate penalty for some crimes. Objections come in three flavors: (1) that no crime is bad enough to deserve death; (2) that even if death is proportional as a punishment for a crime, some lesser penalty might also be adequate and (therefore) should always be preferred over using the DP; and (3) that the insistence on proportionality by DP is undermined by the fact that if death is proportional for a certain level of serious crime (such as the murder of an innocent civilian), there are many much more serious crimes than that (such as the murder of many innocent civilians, or the murder of policemen, or the instigation of insurrection, or the treasonous assassination of a president…), and yet we cannot put the murderer to death many times to fit proportionality to the crime, hence the thesis that we ought to carry out death as the ‘proportional’ penalty for a single murder is disturbed by the lack of proportion found further down the line. The last objection could seem to lead to the conclusion that the DP should then be used only for the one single class of crime that is “the absolute worst”, but because of the difficulty of locating such a class, in reality the objectors’ intention is to fuzz the notion of proportionality sufficiently to undermine ANY certain or definitive claims about it, and especially claims that we can be confident that the DP is proportionate to any specific crime.

All three objections are wrong, and I hope to provide here if not definitive proof of this, at least good solid arguments that allow us to set the objections down as being inadequate counterarguments to the basic stance that death is a proportionate penalty for very serious crimes.

Continue reading "Death Penalty and Proportionality" »

January 20, 2019

Mako Three Zero Charlie

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All Americans should know the name John Chapman. Fathers, tell your sons about him. Tell your daughters too.

An Air Force special operator working with the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, Technical Sergeant Chapman perished in eastern Afghanistan in March of 2002 after fighting, alone and seriously wounded, against many al Qaeda irregulars for several hours. In his final moments, he exposed himself to lethal fire in order to provide cover for comrades in a helicopter.

To this display of surpassing valor, the story adds a note of tragic bitterness between the various service branches. Specifically, the note of bitterness arises from the delay in awarding Chapman the Medal of Honor, which his widow finally received last summer. That delay, it seems, was primarily the product of Navy opposition (though some dispute that), and military-bureaucracy machination.

Sean Naylor supplies all the details, from the inspirational to the ugly, in this riveting report in Newsweek last year, which I will not summarize. Instead, just read it, and I’ll conclude with Sgt. Chapman’s official Medal of Honor citation:

Technical Sergeant John A. Chapman distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism as an Air Force Special Tactics Combat Controller, attached to a Navy Sea, Air, and Land (SEAL) Team conducting reconnaissance operations in Takur Ghar, Afghanistan, on March 4, 2002. During insertion, the team’s helicopter was ambushed causing a teammate to fall into an entrenched group of enemy combatants below. Sergeant Chapman and the team voluntarily reinserted onto the snow-capped mountain, into the heart of a known enemy stronghold to rescue one of their own. Without regard for his own safety, Sergeant Chapman immediately engaged, moving in the direction of the closest enemy position despite coming under heavy fire from multiple directions. He fearlessly charged an enemy bunker, up a steep incline in thigh-deep snow and into hostile fire, directly engaging the enemy. Upon reaching the bunker, Sergeant Chapman assaulted and cleared the position, killing all enemy occupants. With complete disregard for his own life, Sergeant Chapman deliberately moved from cover only 12 meters from the enemy, and exposed himself once again to attack a second bunker, from which an emplaced machine gun was firing on his team. During this assault from an exposed position directly in the line of intense fire, Sergeant Chapman was struck and injured by enemy fire. Despite severe, mortal wounds, he continued to fight relentlessly, sustaining a violent engagement with multiple enemy personnel before making the ultimate sacrifice. By his heroic actions and extraordinary valor, sacrificing his life for the lives of his teammates, Technical Sergeant Chapman upheld the highest traditions of military service and reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.


January 11, 2019

Christians in Netherlands face possible prosecution for opposing homosexual acts

Okay, so which part of this is "no big deal"? (Answer: No part of it.) Read on.

Background: The Nashville statement on biblical sexuality was written in the summer of 2017 and is promoted by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. The text can be found here. I had not read it until today, and I'm such a cynic that I was afraid it would be wimpy, even though written by the CBMW. But as far as I can see on a quick read, it's good, without even the all-too-common breast-beating about how badly (how?) Christians have treated "LGBTQ persons," or that sort of nonsense. I may have just missed something, but on a first read through the statement looks like a simple, non-insulting, but firm statement of basic Christian sexual morality.

Someone translated the Nashville statement into Dutch.

Some Dutch Christians, despite the extreme leftism even of most "Christians" in their country, bravely signed it.

Now the Dutch public prosecutor is considering whether or not to bring charges against them for signing it.

Continue reading "Christians in Netherlands face possible prosecution for opposing homosexual acts" »

January 1, 2019

Apple pulls app for Christian ministry

In case anyone remembers the recent attempt in California to ban so-called "conversion therapy," here is a related event: A Texas-based Christian ministry on issues of sexuality, Living Hope Ministries, has had its app pulled from the app store by tech giant Apple on the grounds of the alleged "bigotry" of their position. You know, teaching traditional sexuality, encouraging those with same-sex attraction who want to live according to God's plan for sexuality, and offering DVDs on how to help people in your church who have SSA--all very "bigoted" stuff. The claim is that all such programs to proclaim the traditional Christian view and encourage people to live by it are ipso facto "reparative therapy." That is precisely what those of us claimed when we opposed the CA bill. (That has been tabled for the moment, but I fear it will be back in another year.)

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December 28, 2018

Sharia enforcement at Mall of America

It's been about 5 1/2 years since the City of Dearborn decided to settle out of court in the lawsuit brought by David Wood and ex-Muslim Nabeel Qureshi over the unconstitutional arrest and prosecution of Wood and Qureshi when they were talking with Muslims about Jesus at the Arab festival. A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then, and our brother Nabeel has gone to the arms of our Savior as a result of stomach cancer. But the sweetness of that legal victory remains.

Now a new case has come up that bears notable, though not perfect, similarities to the arrest of Wood and Qureshi.

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December 24, 2018

Long lay the world in sin and error pining

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Tidings of comfort and joy. We are reminded this Christmas that, for some, not easily found are comfort and joy. Bereavement and loss remain so near. When the holiday season links with grief that is particularly hard. Remember in your prayers those who mourn.

So while I open this Christmas post on a somber note, our true joy lies in the Hope of the Incarnation. Our Sovereign Lord will not abandon us. He has not. He entered into our broken world and no power can thwart his plan to make everything right.

Below is a sizable passage from the second chapter of Fulton Sheen’s Life of Christ. We need not share Sheen’s views on any detail of scriptural exegesis, or even principle of interpretation, in order to profit by his marvelous discourse on the first Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all!


++++


Everything in space and time exists because of the creative Power of God. Matter is not eternal; the universe has an intelligent Personality back of it, an Architect, a Builder, and a Sustainer. Creation is the work of God. The sculptor works on marble, the painter on canvas, the machinist on matter, but none of them can create. They bring existing things into new combinations, but nothing else. Creation belongs to God alone.

God writes His name on the soul of every man. Reason and conscience are the God within us in the natural order. The Fathers of the early Church were wont to speak of the wisdom of Plato and Aristotle as the unconscious Christ within us. Men are like so many books issuing from the Divine press, and if nothing else be written on them, at least the name of the Author is indissolubly engraved on the title page. God is like the watermark on paper, which may be written over without ever being obscured.

[. . .]

Caesar Augustus, the master bookkeeper of the world, sat in his palace by the Tiber. Before him was stretched a map labeled Orbis Terrarum, Imperium Romanum. He was about to issue an order for a census of the world; for all the nations of the civilized world were subject to Rome. There was only one capital in this world: Rome; only one official language: Latin; only one ruler: Caesar. To every outpost, to every satrap and governor, the order went out: every Roman subject must be enrolled in his own city. On the fringe of the Empire, in the little village of Nazareth, soldiers tacked up on walls the order for all the citizens to register in the towns of their family origins.

[. . .]

In the filthiest place in the world, a stable, Purity was born. He, Who was later to be slaughtered by men acting as beasts, was born among beasts. He, Who would call Himself the “living Bread descended from Heaven,” was laid in a manger, literally, a place to eat. Centuries before, the Jews had worshiped the golden calf, and the Greeks, the ass. Men bowed down before them as before God. The ox and the ass now were present to make their innocent reparation, bowing down before their God.

Continue reading "Long lay the world in sin and error pining" »

December 17, 2018

Tidings of comfort and...wellll...hmmmm

As we move toward the Christmas season (at the moment it's technically Advent) and start thinking about the star, the wise men, the shepherds, and the manger, I decided to talk once more about the way fictionalization theories of the New Testament ruin everything.

Even Christmas.

Continue reading "Tidings of comfort and...wellll...hmmmm" »

December 13, 2018

Evangelical college associations capitulate in return for exemptions

The boards of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and the National Association of Evangelicals have endorsed federal laws explicitly enshrining sexual orientation and gender identity as specially protected classes, as long as such laws contain exemptions that they think will exempt their own explicitly Christian institutions.

Robert Gagnon's comments are apt:

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December 11, 2018

Phillip Zodhiates begins prison term

According to Lifesite, Phillip Zodhiates has begun serving a 36-month federal prison sentence for having helped Lisa Miller and her daughter Isabella escape the country back in 2009. Presumably he will be eligible for parole some time sooner than that, as Kenneth Miller was, but one can't be sure. When I last updated on this story in March, 2017, Zodhiates had been released pending appeal. It would seem that his appeals have been unsuccessful. So, like Kenneth Miller before him, he will serve a prison sentence for helping a biological mother escape the country with her own child rather than turning the child over in full custody to the mother's former lesbian lover, no relation to the child.

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November 30, 2018

Transgender Blasphemy at the ETS

The Evangelical Theological Society meeting recently took place in Denver, CO. This is (as I'm sure most readers know) allegedly quite a conservative society. You have to affirm inerrancy to be a member, though I don't know for sure (you can tell me in the comments) whether you have to be a member to make a presentation.

One of the presenters was Andy Draycott, an associate professor at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University. His institution trains a lot of apologists and has a lot of "blue sky" (and deservedly so) in the evangelical community. And a lot of good professors. Draycott (I say unequivocally after this dust-up) is not one of them, for multiple reasons.

Colin Smothers of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood posted on November 19, and Steve Hays at Triablogue posted the link on November 28, alerting people to the contents of Draycott's talk, which Smothers attended.

I have now received a transcript of Draycott's talk. I am assuming, but do not have time to check (I'm trying to devote as much time as possible to book writing), that it simply was transcribed from the audio, which is available to the public for download here. If a reader downloads the audio, feel free to tell me if there is some significant misunderstanding going on, but the contents of the complete transcript I have appear to be simply an attempt to transcribe what Draycott actually said, up to and including the places where he descends into incoherence. They are absolutely damning. I will include quotes below.

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November 26, 2018

President and Pope

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An innate interest in arguing over Lists appears present in most, and pronounced in many male members of our peculiar creature called man. Men will throw themselves into animated discourse over such matters as The Best NFL Quarterback (Elway), or The Greatest Basketball Player (LeBron), or Greatest English Prose Stylist (Wodehouse), laying out Top Threes and Top Fives and Top Tens with notable vigor and persistence. Frequently the females of the species can be observed on the fringes, bedecked with wry smiles or affecting harried cynicism.

Speaking for myself, I enjoy the mischief of the Top Three Presidents list: in particular, I like throwing Reagan in there with Lincoln and Washington, and then waiting, with amused anticipation, for the reactions.

The book under review here, an absorbing study composed by Prof. Paul Kengor of Grove City College, is part of the growing body of historical assessment which is making that mischief no longer effective as such. Because, it turns out, there surely is no mischief in adding to the list of the Greatest Presidents, our Republic’s greatest peacemaker. Lincoln and Washington both fought and won wars -- just wars, I think -- but still cruel and awful confrontations that left indelible scars, bitterness, and many other evils in their wake.

Reagan achieved victory without war; and having done so he prevented incalculable evils.

+++++

It is the burden of Prof. Kengor in this sizable but elegant volume, to demonstrate that few allies in this peaceful victory proved more valuable to Reagan than Pope Saint John Paul II.

Upon diving in, the reader of A Pope and a President will immediately find himself riding the splendid narrative currents of something extraordinary: A Catholic-Protestant alliance without historical parallel. Aspects of this tale have been related in many fine historical works over the past two decades; and we might say that the general lineaments of it are well known in a hazy kind of way.

Millennials who came of age after these men’s deaths -- at least those possessed of any sense -- do know that Reagan won the Cold War, that John Paul II was a great pope, and that both were lifelong and courageous anti-Communists. Most, likewise, understand dimly that all this implies considerable honor to both men, honor that is even granted, however grudgingly, by folks who admire them little in other matters.

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November 25, 2018

St. Augustine on Narrating dyschronologically vs. narrating achronologically

Repeatedly I remind those interested in the New Testament and in issues of historicity that there is a crucial distinction between an author's simply being non-specific about chronological order and his changing the chronology in his account so that it is contrary to fact.

Again and again (as I pointed out in this talk), literary device theorists fail to make this crucial distinction. They will say something vague like, "Ancient authors did not always narrate chronologically" or "Ancient readers did not always expect authors to narrate chronologically" and then use that to defend the conclusion that a Gospel author changed the chronology in a story, deliberately, to make it appear that events happened in a different order than they actually happened or took less time than they actually took. Narrating without indicating a specific chronology is what I call narrating achronologically--without a chronology. Changing chronology is what I call narrating dyschronologically.

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November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving: Not Weary in Well-Doing

November 15, 2018

Teaching from fiction and teaching from fact II

November 3, 2018

Teaching from fiction and teaching from fact

October 30, 2018

Garcia Plays Dylan

October 12, 2018

Let Ancient People Speak for Themselves: Round II

 
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